EGGads! Capital Headline Mistakes | 2 | WebReference

EGGads! Capital Headline Mistakes | 2

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EGGads! Capital Headline Mistakes

To Be or Not "To" or "to" Be?

It's easy to figure out that the first "to" should be capitalized since it is the start of the sentence. Forget for a moment that this comes from Shakespeare. Bill broke many rules, but of course, he bought himself a huge creative license. What do we do about the second "to?"

If it is an infinitive, then it should be "to." So shoot me! No matter how hard I try to avoid those nasty grammar words, they come out anyway. If you took Spanish or French, then you encountered many infinitives. Let me dig into the cobwebs of my brain that covered foreign language and come up with an example.

Ah-ha, cantar. In Spanish, it means, "to sing." You may say, "Meryl, tu no cantas." Gracias, Sherlock, I know I can't sing.

"To" can also be an adverb and in this case, cappy it (Oh, I got tired of typing, "capitalize." So, figure it out.). It is an adverb when you speak of "in a direction toward," "into contact," "to the matter in hand," or "to a state of consciousness or awareness"

If you don't believe it, click to:

Nonsense Title: But It Is Not As If An And Or Nor Could

If the above were a real title, which words should be cappy and which should not (all of it is capitalized on purpose for you to figure out)? Oh, you wimp, giving me "Nonsense" as your answer. Come on, everyone knows the first word is a cappy.

You know those complicated and babbling white papers that often start with a long title with a colon in it to indicate a subtitle? The subtitle is treated like a sentence, cappy the first one and not the rest.

But, would you cappy the "but" if it were not the first word? What about the rest? "Is" and "it" don't count since I gave you the answer a few paragraphs back.

Let's put one group together: "but," "as," "if," "or," "and," and "nor." Oh boy, another song comes to my head! Canto! Canto! Ms. "Two-You-Know-What" howls, "Conjunction junction, what's your function?" SchoolHouse Rock rocks! These are conjunctions and they ain't got no cappy. Other conjunctions include: "for," "yet," and "so."

It's clear as mud what to do with "as." I looked in several places and one said cappy it because it's a subordinating conjunction. I know, I know, don't ask. Just refer to the list at instead. CMS says that these subordinating thingies are always cappied.

Before we close the books on Petticoat Junction, let me tell you that I'm confused. According to the definition of subordinating whatchamacallit, these words can be prepositions. Yet, we're not supposed to cappy those preps! My eyeballs are falling out of their sockets from reading so much material trying to get this straight for you, my dear Eggers.

The leftovers are "the," "a," and "an." These are articles. No, not the clothing type. These are the words that give nouns a definitive. No caps here. Like everything else, they're capitalized only when they're a first or last word of a title.

I shall again quote the rest of section 7.127 of the CMS to prove this is all correct. "Articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor) and prepositions, regardless of length, are lowercased unless they are first or last world of the title or subtitle."

In the end, the right way to capitalize the nonsense title:

Nonsense Title: But It Is Not as if an and or nor Could

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Revised: March 23, 2001
Created: March 23, 2001