Correct use of caps in headings

emp's picture

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe

Up until today I was confident that I was making the correct choices when it comes to caps in headlines that use upper and lower. In the above example I would use the top one. Is that even correct though? Should the be The?

Specifically, the one you see below is what brought this on.

Designed For the Collector

Wondering if it should be Designed For The Collector has got my head in a spin. This is about to be printed as Designed For the Collector


Is there a good resource for this type of thing? Book? Site?

mike gastin's picture

Do you have Strunk & White? Or the Chicago Manual of Style.

Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst might have a read on your problem.

emp's picture

I own Elements of Typographic Style and have yet to see any info on it. I randomly flip to the section I am looking for rather than read cover to cover like I should.

The Chicago Manual of Style looks like it might be my source. I heard of this book from, ironically, Elements of Typographic Style and have been meaning to investigate.


beejay's picture

Eric, I'd throw out the Stylebook and use what
looks best in the particular font it's set in.

A book title, a newspaper headline, and
toy packaging...different beasts.

depending on the typeface chosen, I'd go with:

Designed for the Collector
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

This link might help...

Nick Shinn's picture

(I checked his web site.)

steve_p's picture

For what its worth, Fowler's Modern English Usage says: "Let it be repeated: the employment of capitals is a matter not of rules but of taste".

For an idea of the kind of work this is, though, try this comment on newspaper headlines: "If sometimes there is a touch of vulgarity in them, that is not likely to lessen their appeal to the average newspaper reader".

uptighty's picture

Sorry to sound like a nitpicky editor, but I must clear the CMoS name on a couple of points. It doesn't say to use double hyphens instead of em dashes. (It says that in a manuscript, that is a piece of writing being prepared for eventual typesetting and publication, double hyphens should stand in for em dashes, which will then be replaced by the typesetter.) And it calls for only one space to follow a sentence.

Turabian really is for papers. CMoS is for scholars and other non-publishing-types to prepare their work for eventual publication, and for editors in publishing to prepare that work for typesetting. That's a pretty big distinction.

As someone who deals with both editorial and typographic matters, I tend to think it's possible to be picky about both without much conflict.

Nick Shinn's picture

One advantage of the "All Initials Capitalized" style is that you don't get descenders on capitalized letters. Hence its poularity in the 1970's and 80's in hyper-tight, negative-leading ad headlines. And with word spaces reduced to less than zero, the capitalization served to differentiate words.

However, the disadvantage is that you also get the situation where the "f" of "Of" runs into the "T" of "The", bridging the space, especially in faces like Garamond. Not a problem in Palatino, though.

These are the kind of typographic factors that can influence the style decision, quite apart from the purely editorial.

hrant's picture

My breakfast is coming up.


Nick Shinn's picture

>My breakfast is coming up.

Dude, it's all good.

Dan Weaver's picture

Nick I remember the tight and touching and negative leading days, I'm glad they are so behind us. I blame ITC for alot of it with U&LC of the Lubalin days.

.00's picture

Its still better than 90% of all ad typography these days. At least its not set in Helvetica Extra Light Extended tracked to a +120.

Remember that tight letter fit, and negative leading were a reaction to the freedom that photo-type brought after all of metal's limitations. Some of it was, no doubt, excessive.

And we all know that the freedom brought by digital type never produced anything that was ugly or contrived, don't we now.

uptighty's picture

No apology necessary. I think the language in at least the 14th edition of CMoS is a little confusing on the double hyphen point

Nick Shinn's picture

>they are so behind us

What's done is done. There's no point in being "Era-ist".

That way of doing things had its pros and cons, as does ours.

Being aware of the difference makes both fascinating.

Yes, Lubalin was a pioneer of tight setting in the 60s, but I believe the ability of the headline phototypositor (VGC 2" filmstrip?) to set overlapping type was what pointed typesetting in that direction, and the history of that goes back via Aaron Burns (a founder of ITC), to the 1950s.

That's from my memory of a talk by Rod McDonald -- is there anything in print about the early history of display phototype?

Stephen Coles's picture

Steve is right. As long as you define your publication's style
and stick with it, the scheme doesn't matter so much. As
long as you're consistent your product will look professional.

Ask the New York Times, they use an apostrophe in their
plural years (1990's) while nearly everyone else writes it
without the apos. Personally, I think it's a dumb choice, but
it looks right in the Times because they have used that
style consistently forever.

Stephen Coles's picture

Kent Lew couldn't post this morn. He wishes to add this:

Capitalization is generally an editorial matter, not a typographic one. This is definitely true in publishing, less so in advertising.

As such, editorial style guides should be followed. There are valid arguments for various styles; the important thing is to determine a style and then apply it consistently. If you're working for a publishing client, you darn well better follow their editorial style. If not, then pick a style and stick with it.

In establishing an editorial style, most publishers will follow one of the two main style guides -- The Chicago Manual of Style, which began as merely the house style of the University of Chicago Press but later became popular for its thoroughness and widely adopted by most other publishers; and AP style, which is the style of the Associated Press and is widely used by newspapers, as well as some publishers.

-- K.

Joe Pemberton's picture

We all know Shee-ra is the Master of the Universe. She just lets He-man think he is and the world turns out okay.

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