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Are there any guidelines for when you should capitalize titles/headings or not? Should you always do this in English?

I am referring to

A Capitalized Heading

vs

A capitalized heading

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3 Answers

The title of a book, play, movie, etc. should be capitalized as in your first example. Exceptions would be where the author, for artistic or other reasons, has specifically eschewed capitalization.

A heading or subheading, as in a section of an article, is different. In most cases the preference is to capitalize as in your second example--the editors I know and work with pretty uniformly object to anything but an initial capital letter in heads and subheads.

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I am writing a techical report. I guess that could qualify as an "article". –  Johan Dec 10 '10 at 13:48
    
The key, I think, is whether you're talking about the name of the report or the name of a subsection of it. The name of the report should be title case (first example) unless you have a darn good reason not to do that. The subsection headings WITHIN the report should only have sentence-style capitalization (second example). –  bikeboy389 Dec 10 '10 at 13:56
    
I was referring to the headings within the report. It did not occur to me that the title itself could be different. –  Johan Dec 10 '10 at 14:39
    
+1 for the distinction between titles and headings. –  Marthaª Dec 10 '10 at 20:35
    
Is it true that "title case" is used in the US but not Britain? –  GEdgar Aug 6 '11 at 1:13
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This is really a question of style. A title is a title, but some titles are more important than others. For example, in a book the chapter titles are often title-case. If this is a document for your work, check for a style guide recommended by your workplace. If you are submitting it to a publisher such as a magazine, ask them. If there are no guidelines in place, I'd suggest deciding how important the headings are (as important as chapter titles in a novel?) and pick a consistent pattern.

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If there is a style guide your organization subscribes to, look in that. Otherwise, do what you think is right.

Examples of style guides:

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+1 whatever your readers (i.e., the group of people to or for whom you are writing) are accustomed to. –  msanford Dec 10 '10 at 17:47
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