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Do you capitalize both parts of a hyphenated word in a title?

"My Ex-Wife Hates Me"

or

"My Ex-wife Hates Me"

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  • 3
    Just to echo VonC's answer: given the choice, a title like Co-Founder feels more appropriate with a capital initial in the second word.
    – benbland
    Mar 6, 2014 at 11:41

1 Answer 1

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Capitalization of hyphenated words in general is really more a question of style than anything else.
In other word, choose a rule and be consistent with it:

From Garbl's writing center:

When capitalizing hyphenated words in a title, choose a style and follow it consistently.

Simplest is to capitalize only the first word unless later words are proper nouns or adjectives:

Unique benefits for part-time violinists,
All-American flag-waving techniques.

Second is to capitalize all words except articles, short prepositions and short conjunctions:

Over-the-Counter Acid Reducers for Sale Here,
A Matter-of-Fact Approach to Guitar Tuning,
A New Park-and-Ride Lot for Commuters.

Optional exceptions to the second style are to lowercase the word after a prefix unless it is a proper noun or adjective and to lowercase the second word in a spelled out number:

Anti-intellectual Conduct,
Twenty-first Century Values.


In your case, since "ex-" is a prefix:

My Ex-wife Hates Me

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    So if one writes "My Ex-Wife Hates Me", it is still correct, just that the optional exceptions mentioned in the answer is not observed?
    – tvk
    Nov 5, 2017 at 20:33
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    @FangJing I suppose so, since all words are capitalized.
    – VonC
    Nov 5, 2017 at 20:36
  • 1
    How would you suggest 'add-on' be used here: "Introducing Health-Check - New Add-On to Product X"? Jul 14, 2020 at 8:23
  • Given the huge difference between how likely people are to capitalise the second component in Ex-wife compared to Co-Founder, I think choose a rule and be consistent with it is terrible advice. Whichever rule you choose and stick to, you'll be swimming against the linguistic tide with much of your text! Jun 27, 2023 at 21:22

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