If creating a cover page for a draft, should the by in the following format be capitalized? Microsoft Word seems to think so, but it looks visibly appealing when it is lowercase.

Underlined Title Name
by Firstname Lastname


Underlined Title Name
By Firstname Lastname

  • 1
    Spell/grammar check does not realize you are writing a title and a by line. – bib Nov 1 '13 at 14:27

Microsoft Word only thinks so because it is incompetent at design. It says anything which starts a new paragraph (= after a carriage-return) must be capitalised.

Now, normally, that is indeed the case. But this case is about design, not grammar. It's akin to the shortening of newspaper headlines by missing the main verb: there is a particular style applicable to a particular situation.


The 'by' should be lower case. Microsoft word is only telling you to make it a capital letter because you started a new line, and it's assuming that it's a new sentence.

This is assuming a certain style guide, but it may vary depending on which one you are using. Some guides would encourage capitalizing "By" instead.


The second line is not part of the title, but of the byline; title style does not apply. Microsoft Word's "grammar" checker is, like all similar machine solutions, primitive; it does not detect that you are not starting a sentence.

Whether or not to capitalize the by in the byline, or omit it altogether, and in what contexts (e.g. research paper cover page as opposed to a magazine article), depends on the style guide you are using. There is no single convention to strive for other than consistency.

For what it's worth, The New York Times always capitalizes by, as does the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

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