Capitalization of Be in a title

Is Be Capitalized in a Title?

Should you capitalize be and is in a title or headline? According to most style guides, you should capitalize verbs in titles or headlines in books, movies, articles, and songs. To be is a linking verb and is capitalized in the title case. Here are some of the examples:

  • Am a Celebrity
  • Pearls Are Precious
  • This Is the Beginning
  • How the South Kingdom Was Made
  • When You Were alone
  • There Will Be Rain
  • Never Been Acquitted
  • The Price of Being a Wildflower
  • How Amazing Is It to Be a Masseuse?

Shouldn’t Short Words Be Lowercased?

Many lowercase words in title case are short; for example, a, at, by, in, of, on, or, and to. Different style guides vary in lowercasing other parts of speech, for example, prepositions and articles. Thus, certain word classes are lowercase in the title case. Always capitalize verbs regardless of the word length.

Aren’t Linking Verbs an Exception?

Some individuals argue that you should not capitalize be and its forms since they are not regular but linking verbs. Thus, they do not show any action; they “link” the subject with the rest of the sentence.

However, no style guide shares this perspective. All verbs (including am and is and their forms) must be capitalized.

The 2019 AP Stylebook in the Ask the Editor section of the AP Stylebook website confirms capitalization of be in titles.

Examples that show capitalization of is;

  • A Star Is Born
  • This Is the End

The APA Publication Manual capitalizes all major words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns) in the title or heading.

These include phrasal and linking verbs.

  • Life of Being a Wanderer

The Chicago Manual of Style guidelines for headline-style capitalizes all significant words, including all verbs.

  • Socializing Is Healthy

According to The MLA Handbook, capitalize the first and last words and other principal words in all titles and subtitles. The parts of speech capitalized are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, and subordinate conjunctions.

  • When Life Was Wonderful

New York Times Manual of Style capitalizes all nouns, pronouns, and verbs. The New York Times has headlines that capitalize words be, is, etc.

  • Radiation Is Said to Be Emitted in Russian Military Accident

The Wikipedia Manual of Style states that verbs, including forms of to be (Be, Am, Is, Are, Being, Was, Were, Been), are capitalized.

  • Knowledge Is Power

Conclusion

Capitalize to be and its forms in the title case. All style guides capitalize all major words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns) in the title or heading.

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