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I am very confused about capitalizing prepositions in titles. I just can't seem to get it. I've googled and read a lot.

In the following sentence, should "to" be capitalized? Why? I know some say don't capitalize short words, but others say capitalize short prepositions that act as adverbs, adjectives, or verbs. Doesn't this "to" act as an adverb?

I read the book, "How To Eat Fast at School".

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    Please clarify "prepositions that act as adverbs, adjectives, r verbs". Oct 28, 2023 at 7:03
  • For "prepositions that act as adverbs," I think OP may be referring to phrasal verbs like "step on" or "jump over." Oct 28, 2023 at 7:05
  • In your example, the word "to" should not be capitalized (although to isn't actually a preposition here: it's the "sign" of the infinitive). You're correct that the preposition "at" should also be lowercase. The rule I learned was that "unimportant words" (i.e. prepositions, the "to" in the infinitive, and conjunctions) don't get capitalized in a title unless they're the first word in the title. Oct 28, 2023 at 7:10
  • Here is a more detailed set of guidelines: scribbr.com/mla/titles/#capitalization-in-mla-titles (note the distinction made between coordinating and subordinating conjunctions) Oct 28, 2023 at 7:17
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    There are differences between American and British usage. I've noticed that Americans capitalise more words than we British do, for example in newspaper headlines. Oct 28, 2023 at 9:00

1 Answer 1

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thesaurus.com recommends

Don’t capitalize prepositions (at, by, to, etc.) ... prepositions should not be capitalized—unless a style guide recommends capitalizing them if they are a long word [emphasis added].

The to in your example is not a preposition but should be treated similar to one. This is considered one of the minor words described in thesaurus.com.

Certain minor words need capitalisation, however:

Capitalize the first and sometimes the last word

Capitalize words that have four letters or more

Different style guides have their own recommendations. If you need to follow a specific style guide, you should do so.

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