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What is the correct capitalization of words beginning with "e-" (like e-mail or e-learning or e-assessment) when used in a title? Is it "E-Learning" or "E-learning" or even "e-Learning"?

To clarify: This question is not about hyphenation of such words (there are lots of other questions about that topic), but only about capitalization, e. g., in titles or at the beginning of a sentence. For the argument's sake, let's assume the words are to be hyphenated. ("Email" is a trivial answer.)

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At least some common terms have already dropped the hyphen, such as email. So, where there is no ambiguity, people are already accustomed to seeing a sentence starting with Email. I do not know if a single correct way has been agreed upon yet. –  Kris Nov 29 '11 at 10:01
There is no "correct". –  Colin Fine Nov 29 '11 at 10:31
You may also want to consider the term "eLearning". A form which has no doubt been popularized due to Apple. –  Bjorn Nov 29 '11 at 11:25
@Bjorn: Nope, the question is specifically about capitalising e- words with hyphens, not about whether e-learning itself needs a hyphen. –  Hugo Nov 29 '11 at 11:47
@Hugo: You're right Hugo. I got so caught up on how to write the word itself that I completely forgot the OP is only considering hyphenated versions. –  Bjorn Nov 29 '11 at 12:46
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There may be some exceptions, but in titles I would generally capitalise as E-Learning.

The first page of Google Books results:

  • 6 x e-Learning
  • 4 x E-learning
  • 0 x E-learning

This one page is a too small sample, but you can check a number of books and see how it has been used in various places.

If there's a clear accepted form for any given e- word, then use that. Otherwise, I think the key is to to pick a style and use it consistently.

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Hugo, I fear Ngram may not be a very adequate tool for analysing usage of what is still a fairly recent term. If you run the Ngram again for the period of 1990-2008, the results differ drastically. While apparently results for the period 2000-2008 are less reliable owing to subtle changes in the corpus composition, they do indicate that both "E-learning" and "e-Learning" became much more popular after 2000. I think we can't draw any definitive conclusion from Ngram on this matter and that your advice to "pick a style and use it consistently" is the best thing one could do. –  Bjorn Nov 29 '11 at 11:13
@Bjorn: You're right. I've removed the misleading Ngram. –  Hugo Nov 29 '11 at 11:17
@ Hugo: Did come come across the form "eLearning" at all? This form (lowercase e followed by a capitalized form of the word) is often used for eBooks and has no doubt gained some general popularity due to Apple's iPod, iPad, iCloud, iEverything. –  Bjorn Nov 29 '11 at 11:35
@Bjorn: I didn't even consider eLearning, because this question is specifically about capitalising e- words with hyphens, not about whether e-learning needs a hyphen. –  Hugo Nov 29 '11 at 11:46
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Computer mediated messages are now written as emails. When the word begins a sentence, or appears in a title, there would appear to be no reason not to write it as Emails. It’s too soon to say whether the other e words will go the same way. Elearning might, but there are obvious problems with a word like eassessment, whether with e or E. In general, however, I’d say it would be wise to follow current orthographic conventions and use the upper case letter where it would normally be required, provided doing so does not create difficulty for the reader. So, assuming hyphenation, E-learning, E-assessment, E-reader and so on.

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I think the question is about what is best when a lowercase-e word like e-learning occurs in a context that expects a capitalized word, like a title or the beginning of a sentence. –  ShreevatsaR Nov 29 '11 at 10:06
@ShreevatsaR: You're right. I've amended my answer accordingly. –  Barrie England Nov 29 '11 at 10:26
The question specifically says the hyphen is still present: in a title, how do we capitalise e-learning, e-assessment, e-commerce, e-petition, e-reader, e-tc? –  Hugo Nov 29 '11 at 10:50
@Hugo Amended again. –  Barrie England Nov 29 '11 at 13:46
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