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I need to know how to correctly capitalize this title. I usually go with the Chicago Manual of Style for rules, but wasn't able to find anything regarding something like this:

  • This Is How He Finally Got the Hell Out Of Mexico!
  • This Is How He Finally Got the Hell Out of Mexico!
  • This Is How He Finally Got the Hell out of Mexico!

I know that prepositions should not be capitalized as long as they are shorter than five letters. So is "out of" a single preposition consisting of two words, or does "out" act as a part of the phrasal verb "get out"?

  • I have never used a 'style manual' in my life, but that sentence does not appear to be the type of thing that lends itself to initial capital letters. That usually only applies with titles. And titles are not usually complete sentences. – WS2 May 11 '14 at 9:29
  • Carla Lowe, unlike WS2, seems to use them all and gives a satisfying overview of some of the choices available: 'I also came to learn that the rules for capitalization in titles—like the rules for other areas of English grammar—are not set in stone; style guides and grammarians disagree on which words to capitalize in a title. In fact, there are really only two rules that are consistent across the board: Capitalize the first word of the title Capitalize all proper nouns. ... one method is ... Another method is ... – Edwin Ashworth May 11 '14 at 10:09
  • FWIW, here I'd use "This is how he finally got the hell out of Mexico!" or perhaps "How he finally got the hell out of Mexico." Although I'd probably use a different title. But your question does nicely illustrate the futility of trying to have a set of rules that correspond totally to actual English usage. Is 'out of' a 5- (or 6-) letter preposition? Should it count as two prepositions in grammar or for CMOS interpretations? Is it a preposition at all? Am I allowed to have my own style provided it's not obviously ungrammatical or confusing? Who says what is 'correct'? – Edwin Ashworth May 11 '14 at 10:21
  • Whatever you use, your statement makes for a very poor title. Titles are not usually full-on sentences. Finally Getting Out of Mexico – Lambie Oct 21 '18 at 15:10
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The relevant rule in Chicago is rule 3 in section 8.167 of Chicago Manual of Style, Fifteenth Edition (2003):

8.167 Headline style. ... (3) Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are stressed (through in A River Runs Through It), are used adverbially or adjectivally (up in Look Up, down in Turn Down, on in The On Button, etc.), are used as conjunctions (before in Look Before You Leap, etc.), or are part of a Latin expression used adjectivally or adverbially (De Facto, In Vitro, etc.)

[Relevant example:] Taking Down Names, Spelling Them Out, and Typing Them Up

Chicago acknowledges that this and its other five rules for handling title-case headlines are arbitrary. It calls its rules "pragmatic rather than logically rigorous but generally accepted"—presumably meaning generally accepted by publishers who pick and choose among Chicago's style recommendations in assembling their own house style.

In any event, the out in the headline "This Is How He Finally Got the Hell Out of Mexico!" is functioning in the same way as the out in Chicago's example, "Taking Down Names, Spelling Them Out, and Typing Them Up": It forms a phrasal verb (in one case with "Get"; in the other with "Spell") with a verb that is separated from it by one or more intervening words (in one case "the Hell"; in the other "Them").

That the final phrase "of Mexico" is irrelevant to the status of out as part of "Get Out" is clear if you remove "the Hell" from the equation—which is a legitimate shortening of the title because the person in in the title isn't removing the Hell from Mexico, but rather his own person. In that simplified case, Chicago clearly prescribes this punctuation:

This Is How He Finally Got Out of Mexico!"

The only situation where Chicago would endorse lowercasing the o in out is if the word were functioning strictly as a preposition, as (arguably) here:

This Is How He Finally Got His Burro out of Mexico!

I am confident that Chicago would recommend this capitalization of the OP's title:

This Is How He Finally Got the Hell Out of Mexico!

  • The OP's title is stylistically dubious, regardless of capitalization... – Lambie Oct 21 '18 at 15:12
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In this example, "got out" is a phrasal verb and "of" is a preposition.

In my opinion, the proper capitalization would be:

This Is How He Finally Got the Hell Out of Mexico!

I suggest reading this post for further clarification.

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