APA Style uses two types of capitalization for titles of works (such as paper titles) and headings within works: title case and sentence case.

In title case, major words are capitalized, and most minor words are lowercase. In sentence case, most major and minor words are lowercase (proper nouns are an exception in that they are always capitalized).

  • major words: Nouns, verbs (including linking verbs), adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and all words of four letters or more are considered major words.
  • minor words: Short (i.e., three letters or fewer) conjunctions, short prepositions, and all articles are considered minor words.

Sentence case capitalization is covered in Section 6.17 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

How to implement sentence case

In sentence case, lowercase most words in a title or heading. Capitalize only the following words:

  • the first word of the title or heading
  • the first word of a subtitle
  • the first word after a colon, em dash, or end punctuation in a heading
  • nouns followed by numerals or letters
  • proper nouns (such as the names of racial or ethnic groups)

When to use sentence case

Use sentence case for the following:

  • titles of articles, books, reports, webpages, and other works in reference list entries, even if title case was used in the original work

Knapp, S. J. (2019). Suicide prevention: An ethically and scientifically informed approach. American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000145-000

Scott, T. N., Gil-Rivas, V., & Cachelin, F. M. (2019). The need for cultural adaptations to health interventions for African American women: A qualitative analysis. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 25(3), 331–341. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000228

From the APA Style blog

APA Style Blog post: How to capitalize medication names

How to capitalize medication names

This blog post provides information on the APA Style capitalization guidelines for writing about medications.

Why titles have sentence case capitalization in APA Style references

Why titles have sentence case capitalization in APA Style references

Why are article titles and book titles in APA Style references in sentence case? The answer takes us back to the 1929 origins of APA Style and a guideline that continues to have practical advantages today.

Last updated: July 2022Date created: September 2019