I’m not a native English speaker. I’ve noticed that in titles or headlines, many words often start with a capital letter while others are still lowercase. As an example, the title of my question would most likely be:

Capital Letters in Headlines

I already found a solution on how it’s done, but I still want to know why.

closed as general reference by tchrist, StoneyB, user19148, RegDwigнt Nov 23 '12 at 15:40

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Welcome to ELU. I don't think you will find a linguistic "Why" for this. There are no "rules": some journals follow conventional title-casing, others do not. What a headline is intended to communicate is only incidentally its linguistic content; the primary "content" is "You would be interested in reading this", which is communicated as much by attention-getting typography as by the words. Consequently, I think this question is off-topic. – StoneyB Nov 23 '12 at 14:54
  • In addition, I invite you to visit, and possibly support, the proposed English Language Learners site. It may well be below-grade for you; your contribution as one who has learned English would be valued. – StoneyB Nov 23 '12 at 14:56
  • I honestly cannot understand what question is being asked here. Are you asking for what the rules are for determining the case of words in a newspaper headline or a journal article, or some such? – tchrist Nov 23 '12 at 14:58
  • @tchrist I want to know why capitalisation in headlines is done differently from the "normal" grammatical rules. – André Stannek Nov 23 '12 at 15:01
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    I think the question is Why are so Many Words Capitalized in American Publications? (as opposed to, say, British publications, which tend only to capitalise proper nouns) – Andrew Leach Nov 23 '12 at 15:02

According to Wikipedia, this phenomenon is called title case, and:

Among U.S. book publishers (but not newspaper publishers), it is a common typographic practice to capitalize "important" words in titles and headings. This is an old form of emphasis, similar to the more modern practice of using a larger or boldface font for titles.

So, basically, it's done for emphasis.

  • It's done by many U.S. newspaper publishers, as well (but usually not by U.K. ones). – Peter Shor Nov 23 '12 at 15:29
  • I have never seen a book not titled in title-case. That would be Wrong. I believe this answer misrepresents what is going on. – tchrist Nov 23 '12 at 15:36
  • @tchrist A certain well-known publisher has one -- but I only know that because I happen to have a copy on my desk! And then there's this one, although Amazon list the title in conventional American form. A British listing would probably be different. – Andrew Leach Nov 23 '12 at 15:44
  • @tchrist: I agree with you; I was also surprised to see that Wikipedia focusses so much on US as opposed to UK publishers. I publish frequently with UK houses and title casing is very common. Still, my point still holds: it's for emphasis. – CesarGon Nov 23 '12 at 18:39

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