The way to capitalize a headline (all right, several ways)

Does your organization follow AP style, New York Times style, or something else? However you do it, here are some simple tips for getting it right.

If you are looking for a good jolt of writerly fear and dread, there’s no better place to start than the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual‘s section on capitalization.

Though written with admirable precision, the manual offers far more detail than most of us want when trying to figure out on deadline what to capitalize. For instance:

3.56. The interjection “O” is always capitalized. Interjections within a sentence are not capitalized.

Sail on, O Ship of State!

For lo! the days are hastening on.

Yet when deciding how to capitalize a headline or the title of that autobiography you’re ghostwriting for your semiliterate CEO, you needn’t fall back on vaguely remembered lessons from your school days. (Gee, I seem to recall something about not capitalizing short words…)

Your three main options for capitalizing a headline aren’t all that difficult:

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