Certain little things trouble me to an unaccountable degree and it’s often because my mild, everyday OCD is at work (as opposed to my severe, depressive OCD, which is the really bad one).
For some time now I’ve been paining over whether to write titles in title case or sentence case.
Title case is when you capitalise most of the words in a title. Often some of the smaller words aren’t capitalised and common exceptions include: a, an, and, but, by, for, if, in, is, of, on, or, the, to, vs, via.
An example would be:
Why is Donald Trump a Blithering Idiot?
Sentence case is when you write the title as you would any sentence and just capitalise proper nouns.
An example would be:
Why is Donald Trump a blithering idiot?
Researching the topic hasn’t been particularly helpful because it all comes down to what style guide you use rather than hard and fast grammar rules. I prefer hard and fast grammar rules because I know exactly where I am with them and I feel particularly naughty when I break them.
If you read various internet forums about this subject you’ll find roughly equal preference for either style, and sometimes quite passionate preference too.
It doesn’t help that in some situations I think title case looks better and in others I think sentence case looks better. It’s something to do with how the text is presented to the eye amongst other content.
Up until yesterday I used title case on this blog because that’s what the Reverend D Williams taught me to do. He was my primary school teacher and he was very wise, although he used to disappear into the classroom cupboard on a regular basis for a quick ciggie. I’m sure he thought we didn’t know what he was up to.
Anyway, after about 13 months of blogging I’ve switched to sentence case on the blog.
Thankfully this was fairly easy to do because the genius who wrote my blogging software insisted that raw titles were written in sentence case and then transformed into title case by a template modifier. So all I had to do was remove the ‘titlecase’ modifier from a few templates and regenerate my (static) blog. It was less than a minute’s work.
I’m still not entirely comfortable with things of course and there’s every chance it’ll change back at some point.
For what it’s worth, when it comes to style direction I like the University of Cambridge’s Editorial Style Guide even though I’ve ignored their advice to use sentence case until now.
My ultimate guide on writing style is however Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and I favour the Oxford English Dictionary for spelling (specifically the first version of words they offer), although I tend to use the -ise ending rather than the -ize ending they sometimes recommend first.
I make far too many mistakes despite being an avid consumer of style guides and dictionaries. Things often go amiss somewhere between my brain and my fingers.
There are spellings I just never learn. Diarrhoea is one that comes to mind. And there are words my fingers just can’t cope with, such as display, which usually comes out as displat, and buy, which often comes out as but.
Bizarrely, I also frequently finish a word with its successor’s ending, so instead of writing “I really wanted to do that”, I’ll write “I reallyed want to do that”. It’s like I’m subconsciously inventing some strange version of backslang.
Anyway, I’m digressing so I’ll shut up now and muse upon my sentence-cased blog instead.