Many of the students I help at the writing center need help with their APA formatting. While there are many aspects to APA formatting, something that is not always understood is what capitalization styles are. In this post, we will look at the three types of capitalization styles and discuss their use: title case style or headline style, sentence case, and all caps.
As you can guess, title case/headline style is the type of capitalization that goes on titles. This is the type of capitalization style where you want to capitalize all the important words and leave the unimportant words lowercase.
In APA, title case is used for the title on the title page, the title at the top of the first body page, and for level 1 and 2 headings.
The only complication with this type of capitalization style is understanding which words are the “important” words and which words are the “unimportant” words. In APA, you should not capitalize articles, conjunctions, or short prepositions. But, capitalize all words that are four letters or more and all verbs, nouns, adjectives, and pronouns.
This type of capitalization style is what you use in sentences all the time. Capitalize only the first letter of the sentence and leave the rest lowercase. Of course, you still need to capitalize proper nouns like the names of people. Use care when capitalizing words within a sentence and consult the appropriate style manual if necessary.
In APA, sentence case is used for third through fifth level headings. Sentence case is also used for the titles of articles and books on your “References” page.
This is the style of capitalization that you would use if you are an angry fishmonger that is consistently throwing things. Or if you need to add a running head to your APA paper. In this style, every single letter is capitalized without exception. This is the once instance where your title should not be in title case.