snopes.com Post new topic  Post a reply
search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hello snopes.com » Archived Forums » Language Archive » Capitalization of Song Titles

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Capitalization of Song Titles
Crono
Deck the Malls


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Crono   Author's Homepage   E-mail Crono   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Recently, I have been copying my music collection onto my computer. (No, I'm not doing anything illegal--it's just for backup purposes.) I'm a little picky about using correct capitalization and punctuation, but even though I know the basic rules about capitalizing song titles, there is so much variation that I sometimes have trouble knowing what to do. This isn't a big deal, but I am curious about what the "right" way to capitalize these titles might be.

According to what I learned in high school, the basic rule is that you're supposed to capitalize every word in a title except for the following:
--The articles a, an, and the.
--Conjunctions, such as and, but, or, and nor.
--Any short preposition (such as to, of, or with).
The exception to this is that you always proper nouns and the first word of a title or subtitle.

However, this does not explain a lot of possible words in titles, particularly slang or words that are just made up. Here are some other things that I'm confused about.
--What constitutes a "short preposition"? Most titles I see do capitalize long prepositions like underneath, but sometimes, the capitalization of prepositions seems to be subjective. What about prepositions like about or over? How many letters or syllables must be in a preposition to constitute a "long" preposition?
--While you're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, doing so is common in song titles. Are these prepositions supposed to be capitalized, even though they do not have an object?
--What about the word to in an infinitive (as in "to be," "to go," "to sleep," "to walk", etc.)? Technically, it's not a preposition in this case, so should it be capitalized?
--In a hyphenated word, are both parts of the word capitalized? What if one part is not really a word? For example, should the t's be capitalized in "A-Tisket, A-Tasket"?
--What about words combined by apostrophes, such as o'clock in "One O'clock jump" or a'rollin' in "The Train Kept A'rollin'"? Should the c and the r be capitalized?

I'm wondering if there are any grammar nazis out there who could fill me in on this.

--------------------
Disclaimer: I might know something about everything, but I don't know much about anything.

Posts: 293 | From: Nashville, TN | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Wizard with her nose in a spellbook
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I know I'm going to make an ass of myself by saying this, as I'm going pretty far off topic here. Even though I'm in advanced English classes at my university, after all these years, I still can't figure out what the NFBSK a preposition is.
IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Eve MG
Happy Holly Days


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Eve MG   Author's Homepage   E-mail Eve MG   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
This might help, Wizard. School House Rock!

Check your speakers - the site plays the song as soon as it loads.

Eve "Busy P's, if you please" MG

--------------------
I love dairy! Does that mean I can't be a vegan?

Posts: 1569 | From: Upstate NY | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Eve MG
Happy Holly Days


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Eve MG   Author's Homepage   E-mail Eve MG   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
And to answer the OP:
This page says you do capitalize prepositions over four letters long. And aside from the first word, the last word is also always capitalized. Also, a preposition can be capitalized if it's part of a "phrasal verb," like "Hold On."

I'm still working on the "O'Clock" one - but I think you would capitalize the C.

ETA: I couldn't find anything on the grammar or capitalization pages about o'clock. I even checked a sample wedding invitation page, to see what they do, and they put it all in lowercase.

Finally I just googled O'Clock (tried to link but it's not working) and saw that there are some organizations with O'Clock in their name and they capitalize the C.

Hope this helps!!

--------------------
I love dairy! Does that mean I can't be a vegan?

Posts: 1569 | From: Upstate NY | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
JR
We Three Blings


Icon 1 posted      Profile for JR   E-mail JR       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Would it help to point out that it is the exact same as book titles?

--------------------
Semper ubi sub ubi

Posts: 1175 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Level 47
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I learned that there are different capitalization rules for song titles than for, say, book or movie titles. I seem to recall that the rules described above apply to books and movies, but for songs, you're supposed to capitalize every word, no matter what. (Don't ask me why.) Furthermore, I've observed that on CDs where song titles are printed using both cases (as opposed to all caps, or sometimes even all lowercase), the "every word" rule is indeed observed much more often than not.

------------
Level "capital records" 47

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Crono
Deck the Malls


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Crono   Author's Homepage   E-mail Crono   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Thanks, everyone, this has been quite helpful. That web site was especially useful, although it still doesn't address some of my questions. The infinitive thing is especially bothering me. It just seems weird to capitalize the word to, but I can't find a rule to say that I shouldn't.

By the way, Level 47, I have noticed that it seems to be common practice to use title case (where every word is capitalized) on some CD cases, but it's very inconsistent. In fact, most of my CDs don't do that, but I do have some that do. Combined with the fact that many of them use all caps (I haven't seen any that use all lowercase), I don't consider that very reliable, especially since it goes against everything that I learned in high school. [Smile]

--------------------
Disclaimer: I might know something about everything, but I don't know much about anything.

Posts: 293 | From: Nashville, TN | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
ToadMagnet
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


Icon 1 posted      Profile for ToadMagnet   E-mail ToadMagnet   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Most of my sheet music uses title case - the occasional exceptions are the above-mentioned short prepositions (and the exceptions appear to depend on the publisher).

"Five O'Clock Jump" is handwritten by the arranger and I can't tell what's a capital and what isn't.

--------------------
Listen ... it's Mellow!

Posts: 927 | From: Virginia | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post new topic  Post a reply Close topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2