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I am studying computer science and the title of my thesis contains the hyphenated words "on-the-fly" and "one-sided". I am not sure about how to capitalize them correctly.

I have found an article about that problem referring to the Gregg Reference Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style. It states:

The Gregg Reference Manual (10th edition):

In a heading or title, capitalize all the elements except articles (a, an, and the), short prepositions (at, by, for, in, of, off, on, out, to, and up), and short conjunctions (and, as, but, if, or, and nor).

The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition):

Traditional Rules (preferred)

1) Always capitalize the first element.

2) Capitalize any subsequent elements unless they are articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor) or such modifiers as flat or sharp following musical key symbols.

3) If the first element is merely a prefix or combining form that could not stand by itself as a word (anti, pre, etc.), do not capitalize the second element unless it is a proper noun or proper adjective.

4) Do not capitalize the second element in a hyphenated spelled-out number (twenty-one, etc.).

5) Break a rule when it doesn't work (see the examples below that are followed by asterisks).

For "on-the-fly", both manuals recommend to write it as "On-the-Fly". For "one-sided", the Gregg Reference Manual recommends to write it as "One-Sided", but I am unsure about which rule of the Chicago Manual of Style applies. Is it "One-Sided" or "One-sided" according to the Chicago Manual of Style?

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    Since you've already got one answer for 'One-Sided', this is either general reference or merely opinion about style. The general question is a duplicate of Do you capitalize both parts of a hyphenated word in a title?. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 28 '17 at 7:27
  • I've added [american-english] because the "rules" as stated do not apply to British English. Headings in BrE follow normal sentence capitalisation. – Andrew Leach Aug 28 '17 at 7:42
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    Chicago Manual of Style would suggest "One-Sided". You only leave the second element uncapitalized "If the first element is merely a prefix or combining form that could not stand by itself as a word (anti, pre, etc.), do not capitalize the second element unless it is a proper noun or proper adjective." One can stand by itself as a word. – illiteratecoder Sep 1 '17 at 6:16
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It is One-Sided

The rules you quoted from the Chicago Manual of Style essentially tell you to capitalize everything except:

  • "articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor) or such modifiers as flat or sharp following musical key symbols"
  • compound words where "the first element is merely a prefix or combining form that could not stand by itself as a word"
  • "the second element in a hyphenated spelled-out number"

"Sided" is not an article, preposition, etc. "One" is not a prefix that could not stand by itself, because it is a word. Finally, "One-Sided" is not a spelled-out number.


In addition, you can find a few papers on Google Scholar that confirm this usage:

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