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What is the correct capitalization of words beginning with "e-" (like e-mail or e-learning or e-assessment) when used in a title? Is it "E-Learning" or "E-learning" or even "e-Learning"?

To clarify: This question is not about hyphenation of such words (there are lots of other questions about that topic), but only about capitalization, e. g., in titles or at the beginning of a sentence. For the argument's sake, let's assume the words are to be hyphenated. ("Email" is a trivial answer.)

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    At least some common terms have already dropped the hyphen, such as email. So, where there is no ambiguity, people are already accustomed to seeing a sentence starting with Email. I do not know if a single correct way has been agreed upon yet.
    – Kris
    Nov 29, 2011 at 10:01
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    There is no "correct".
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 29, 2011 at 10:31
  • You may also want to consider the term "eLearning". A form which has no doubt been popularized due to Apple.
    – Bjorn
    Nov 29, 2011 at 11:25
  • @Bjorn: Nope, the question is specifically about capitalising e- words with hyphens, not about whether e-learning itself needs a hyphen.
    – Hugo
    Nov 29, 2011 at 11:47
  • @Hugo: You're right Hugo. I got so caught up on how to write the word itself that I completely forgot the OP is only considering hyphenated versions.
    – Bjorn
    Nov 29, 2011 at 12:46

3 Answers 3

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There may be some exceptions, but in titles I would generally capitalise as E-Learning.

The first page of Google Books results:

  • 6 x e-Learning
  • 4 x E-Learning
  • 0 x E-learning

This one page is a too small sample, but you can check a number of books and see how it has been used in various places.

If there's a clear accepted form for any given e- word, then use that. Otherwise, I think the key is to to pick a style and use it consistently.

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    Hugo, I fear Ngram may not be a very adequate tool for analysing usage of what is still a fairly recent term. If you run the Ngram again for the period of 1990-2008, the results differ drastically. While apparently results for the period 2000-2008 are less reliable owing to subtle changes in the corpus composition, they do indicate that both "E-learning" and "e-Learning" became much more popular after 2000. I think we can't draw any definitive conclusion from Ngram on this matter and that your advice to "pick a style and use it consistently" is the best thing one could do.
    – Bjorn
    Nov 29, 2011 at 11:13
  • @Bjorn: You're right. I've removed the misleading Ngram.
    – Hugo
    Nov 29, 2011 at 11:17
  • @ Hugo: Did come come across the form "eLearning" at all? This form (lowercase e followed by a capitalized form of the word) is often used for eBooks and has no doubt gained some general popularity due to Apple's iPod, iPad, iCloud, iEverything.
    – Bjorn
    Nov 29, 2011 at 11:35
  • @Bjorn: I didn't even consider eLearning, because this question is specifically about capitalising e- words with hyphens, not about whether e-learning needs a hyphen.
    – Hugo
    Nov 29, 2011 at 11:46
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Computer mediated messages are now written as emails. When the word begins a sentence, or appears in a title, there would appear to be no reason not to write it as Emails. It’s too soon to say whether the other e words will go the same way. Elearning might, but there are obvious problems with a word like eassessment, whether with e or E. In general, however, I’d say it would be wise to follow current orthographic conventions and use the upper case letter where it would normally be required, provided doing so does not create difficulty for the reader. So, assuming hyphenation, E-learning, E-assessment, E-reader and so on.

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    I think the question is about what is best when a lowercase-e word like e-learning occurs in a context that expects a capitalized word, like a title or the beginning of a sentence. Nov 29, 2011 at 10:06
  • @ShreevatsaR: You're right. I've amended my answer accordingly. Nov 29, 2011 at 10:26
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    The question specifically says the hyphen is still present: in a title, how do we capitalise e-learning, e-assessment, e-commerce, e-petition, e-reader, e-tc?
    – Hugo
    Nov 29, 2011 at 10:50
  • @Hugo Amended again. Nov 29, 2011 at 13:46
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The Microsoft Manual of Style, 4th Edition (used for technical documentation) recommends avoiding e- forms of words, unless necessary. For example, it recommends using words message and mail instead of email--the context should make the medium clear.

When it is appropriate to use an e- word, it recommends to use a hyphen and to capitalize it like any other hyphenated word (exception: email is not hyphenated).

Examples

E-commerce is a very lucrative business model.

Do you like e-commerce?

How to Succeed at E-Commerce (title capitalization)

Watch out for non-native speakers

E- words are not easily translated and may be confusing to non-native English speakers. So if you are writing for a global audience, it's usually better to avoid e- words, even if it means using more words.

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  • E- words are not easily translated? Well, that at the very least depends on your target language, and on the particular term in question. If you’re translating into another Germanic language (and to some extent even a Romance one, or any number of other languages), for example, you can simply use the prefix e- in the target language. The most common word in Mandarin for e-commerce, for instance, is “e商务” or “e商业”. They’re no more difficult to translate than any other randomly found lexeme in a language. Nov 2, 2016 at 22:49

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