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Dec 11

Comparing Headline Capitalization Styles

Just as there are different writing styles for business correspondence, news releases and advertisements, there are three main styles of hedline capitalization.

1. ALL CAPITALIZED
Although once quite popular in American newspapers, all capital hedlines are rarely seen anymore. One of the reasons ALL CAPS is not used is because it is extremely hard to read, a fact that has been confirmed by experimental methods. Typists preparing copy for publication will often use ALL CAPS to indicate hedlines, subheds, or emphasis. This usage should be corrected by the professional typesetter to match the organizations preferred style for headlines, subheads or emphasis (One frequent exception among advertisers: the word FREE is often left in all caps).

2. The ‘Up’ Style
The so-called “Up” style (not to be confused with the “all up” style of total capitalization described in #1) is an approach that capitalizes every word except articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”), conjunctions (“and,” “or,” and “but” ), and most prepositions. The “to” in infinitive phrases is lowercased while in hyphenated compounds, the second and subsequent elements are generally capitalized. Finally, the first and last words of the hedline (or deck) are always capitalized. This style is fairly similar to how book titles are generally handled. The Up style is a popular newspaper and newsletter style although the “down” style is becoming more common, especially for newspapers. It has the advantage of being fairly easy to communicate to secretaries and staff in a business setting, largely because businesses styles commonly use more capitalization than is found in current publication styles.

3. The ‘down’ style
This is becoming a more common headline format for modern newspapers. In addition, the Associated Press now favors this approach for the material it transmits. This style capitalizes only proper nouns and the first word in the headline. It is the most easy to read, and most resembles the natural capitalization used in sentences.

The hedline style you select for your organization is a matter of choice. However, once selected, it should be applied as consistently as possible for a uniform and professional appearance across publications.

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