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sentence case

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Definition:

The conventional way of using capital letters in a sentence--that is, capitalizing only the first word and any proper nouns.

In most newspapers in the U.S. (and in virtually all publications in the U.K.), sentence case (also known as down style) is the standard form for headlines.


See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Barack Obama flies to thank troops who killed Bin Laden"
    (headline in sentence case from The Guardian [U.K.], May 7, 2011)


  • "Sarah, Duchess of York defends Princess Beatrice's weight against 'rude' critics"
    (headline in sentence case from The Daily Telegraph [U.K.], May 13, 2008)


  • The elements of English grammar by George Philip Krapp
    (book title in sentence case)


  • AP Style: Headlines
    "Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. . . .

    "Online: For online subscribers so desiring, AP systems convert headlines to a version with all words capitalized."
    (The Associated Press Stylebook: 2010, edited by Darrell Christian, Sally Jacobsen, and David Minthorn. The Associated Press, 2010)


  • APA Style: Sentence Style in Reference Lists
    "In titles of books and articles in reference lists, capitalize only the first word, the first word after a colon or em dash, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the second word of a hyphenated compound."
    (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. American Psychological Association, 2010)


  • "Librarians and bibliographers work with minimal capitals [i.e., sentence case], . . . yet [other options] are well established in literary tradition. For many people there's virtue in using [sentence case] in lists and bibliographies, but using one of the other options for titles quoted in the course of a written discussion."
    (Pam Peters, The Cambridge Guide to English Usage. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004)


  • "In major companies, the problem of consistency may be largely unreconcilable. The public relations department has to use a 'down style' because it is writing for newspapers, but department heads insist on capitalizing the names of titles and departments. . . .

    "One practical solution is to compile brief style lists for separate purposes. . . . Departments should be free to compile their own lists to take care of special circumstances."
    (Donald Bush and Charles P. Campbell, How to Edit Technical Documents. Oryx Press, 1995)
Also Known As: down style, reference style

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