I'm confused when I have to capitalize a word after a hyphen. I did google around, but I'm still confused when I do or do not have to capitalize it.

I have 'Distance-Related Effects'. I think 'related' is with a capital?



1 Answer 1


This is a question of style and either approach is acceptable in your example.

However, if the second element is a proper noun or proper adjective (e.g. Pro-Shakespeare / Pro-Shakespearean) then you should definitely apply initial caps.

If you are following a style guide, then you should follow what they prescribe.

The Chicago Manual of Style (8.159), for example, agrees with you:

  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.

There are also different types of hyphenated compound words (compound nouns, compound adjectives, words with prefixes or suffixes, etc.) and style guides may prescribe different approaches for them, as does Chicago:

  1. 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.

  2. Capitalize the second element in a hyphenated spelled-out number (twenty-one or twenty-first, etc.) or hyphenated simple fraction (two-thirds in two-thirds majority).

The most important thing is to be consistent in your document.

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