Titles and Headings - Capitalization

AMA Manual of Style - Stacy L. Christiansen, Cheryl Iverson 2020

Titles and Headings

Capitalize major words in titles, subtitles, and headings of books, journals, articles, musical compositions (including albums and songs), plays (stage and screen), radio and television programs, movies, paintings and other works of art, software programs, websites, blogs, electronic systems, trademarks, and names of ships, airplanes, spacecraft, awards, corporations, and monuments.

Do not capitalize a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet), an article, or a preposition of 3 or fewer letters, except when it is the first word in a title or subtitle. (For more on typeface rules in titles, see 21.5.9, Specific Uses of Fonts and Styles, Italics, and 8.6.3, Quotation Marks, Titles.)

The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg

the Android operating system the Lincoln Memorial

Tycho’s song “Past Is Prologue”


the Cochrane Database

Double Indemnity

Girl With a White Dog by Lucian Freud

12 Years a Slave (film) Twelve Years a Slave (book)

Note: The may be dropped from titles if the syntax of the sentence improves without it.

This week’s Lancet contains several articles on global health.

10.2.1 Titles of Medical Articles.

Titles of articles take initial capitals when they appear as titles in text but not when they appear in a reference list.


Free Tissue Transfer for Head and Neck Reconstruction: A Contemporary Review


Cannady SB, Rosenthal EL, Knott PD, Fritz M, Wax M. Free tissue transfer for head and neck reconstruction: a contemporary review. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2014;16(5):367-373.

In titles and headings, capitalize 2-letter verbs, such as go, do, am, is, be. Note: In infinitives, “to” is not capitalized. Do not capitalize a coordinating conjunction, article, or preposition of 3 or fewer letters, except when it is the first word in the title or subtitle or part of a hyphenated term.

We Do Need to Treat Mild Hypertension

Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain: Not for the Faint of Heart

Association Between Hospital Conversions to For-Profit Status and Clinical and Economic Outcomes

Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes

Predictors of In-Hospital Mortality in Trauma Patients

A Nomogram to Predict Long-term Survival After Resection for Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Blisters and Erosions in a Neonate

Comparison of Laparoscopic vs Open Hepatectomy: Good Try, but We Still Have Selection Bias

For compound terms from languages other than English, capitalize all parts of the expression in the title.

Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization in Surgical Specimens of Lung Cancer

Perioperative Complications of Total En Bloc Spondylectomy

With a phrasal verb, such as “follow up,” capitalize both parts in a title.

Outcomes in Adolescents Followed Up Longitudinally After Injury Hospitalization

10.2.2 Hyphenated Compounds.

In titles, subtitles, and text headings, do not capitalize the second part of a hyphenated compound in the following instances:

If either part is a hyphenated prefix or suffix (see, Hyphen, Temporary Compounds)

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs for Ankylosing Spondylitis

If both parts together constitute a single word (consult the current edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary or Stedman’s or Dorland’s medical dictionary)

Reliability of Health Information Obtained Through Online Searches for Self-injury [compound words with the prefix self- are considered a single word]

Short-term and Long-term Effects of Violent Media on Aggression in Children

Follow-up Studies of Patients With Melanoma

Full-time Coverage by Attending Physicians in a Pediatric Emergency Department

However, if a compound is temporary or if both parts carry equal weight, capitalize both words.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Low-Level Activity

Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

In titles, subtitles, and text headings, capitalize the first letter of a word that follows a lowercase (but not a capital) Greek letter (see 16.2, Capitalization After a Greek Letter), a numeral (except when an abbreviated unit of measure that is never capitalized follows), a symbol, a stand-alone capital letter, or an italicized organic chemistry prefix, such as trans- or cis-.

Effects of α1-Antitrypsin on Serine Proteinases During Inflammation

Topical Treatment for Capillary Hemangioma of the Eyelid Using β-Blocker Solution

Assessment of Plasma C-Reactive Protein as a Biomarker of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Risk

10.2.3 Titles and Headings of Tables, Figures, or Boxes.

Capitalize each major word in the title of a table. In row headings (table stubs) and column headings, only the initial word should be capitalized. If a symbol, numeral, or lowercase Greek letter begins the stub, the word that follows should be capitalized.