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General Guidelines

When capitalizing song titles, album titles, or artist names, the appropriate grammatical rules for the language the text is written in should be applied unless it can be shown that that the artist wishes the capitalization to be grammatically incorrect, in which case the artist's version of the title or name is the correct one to use.

In the case where a title or name has been printed using different variations of capitalization, whether on a single release or across multiple releases and is therefore not consistently applied, and if there is no evidence that the artist has a preference, then the appropriate grammatical rules of the language in question should be applied regardless of what has been printed.

Language-Specific Guidelines

For more detailed information on language specific grammar rules, see the following pages or create one if a language is not represented here.

Note: If you are unsure about the language of a title, TellSimilarLanguagesApart might help. If you are unsure on how to apply the rules contact a moderator whose ModeratorLanguage fits.


How to determine the language

"Still, this leaves us with further problems: how to determine the language of ambiguous titles or titles with foreign words, and how to handle bilingual titles." --TomHull

  • My feeling here is that we should apply the language rules of the country of the artist's origin in cases where titles are ambiguous or bilingual. This won't help in all cases though. --TarragonAllen

Note about Japanese

I think we really should add a note above prominently warning people about the Japanese bands. There are very different defacto rules for Japanese artists that have some English words in the title (i.e., never change them from what the cover says). It's probably because Kanji doesn't have case, so even Roman letters are treated somewhat ideographically — that is, form is what matters, and they never switch case. I'm sure someone can explain it in better terms. --bogdanb

Capitalization for classical works

Classical releases like symphonies and classicalesque releases such as movie and theatre scores are a completely different ballgame, and this should be dealt with in the ClassicalStyleGuide as a separate issue.

Sub-Sentences in titles

My proposed addition to the capitalisation style guide: If a song title contains a sub-sentence in brackets, the sub-sentence should be capitalised as though the brackets didn't exist. --JohnCarter

  • Title parts that are in parenthesis should be treated with the normal and appropriate grammatical rules for the language in question. The only time information in brackets is treated differently is if it is what I call "ExtraTitleInformation", which covers things like "(feat. Foo)", "(remixed by Foo)" and the other extra information we presently cater for. --TarragonAllen Examples: * "Have You Ever Been (to Electric Ladyland)" by Jimi Hendrix track link * "What Went Wrong (in Your Head)" by Supergrass track link * "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea" by Elvis Costello track link Counter Examples: * "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult track link ("(Don't Fear)" could be considered optional, so "The" should be capitalised as though it were at the start of the sentence) * "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)" by Jimi Hendrix track link (Anything after the ... is a new sentence, so the "A" should be capitalised). --JohnCarter

Should 'the' and 'a' be capitalized in the middle of a sentence when it refers a another title?

  • March from A Clockwork Orange
  • March from a Clockwork Orange

or maybe even

  • March from "A Clockwork Orange"

also album titles featuring band names as in

  • Rock 'n' Roll With the Modern Lovers
  • Come On, Feel the Lemonheads --nschum
  • Yes, this is how we handle it. So March from A Clockwork Orange would be correct. But about Come On, Feel the Lemonheads I'm unsure because "the" is part of the sentence here so it should probably be lower case. --Shepard

Another proposed addition: If a track is clearly differentiated from other tracks on an album by its capitalization, then the capitalization should be preserved.  For example, if an album is capitalized normally except for one track which is all caps, that track should be left in all caps.  If the creators clearly intended it to be this way, then that information should be conveyed in MB. --DavidHolmes