How to Capitalize and Punctuate Titles

Citation Maker will take care of italics and most punctuation. The punctuation exceptions are listed below. However, Citation Maker cannot check for proper capitalization and spelling. That is up to you. Below are the APA rules for capitalization and punctuation that you will need to know.


3 Ways to Capitalize a Title 

  • Sentence case is capitalizing like you would for a regular sentence. Capitalize the first word, the first word of a subtitle, nouns followed by numerals or letters, and all proper nouns. 
  • Title case is capitalizing like you usually would do for a title. Capitalize all words over 3 letters long. 
  • “As it appears on the source” is the third style. Capitalize the text or title exactly as it appears on your source, even if all words are in lower case, if there is camel case (ex: PowerPoint), etc. 

    Titles are cited in sentence case with only a few exceptions.


When to Use Title Case (pp. 294 & 298)

Periodical titles, website names, and social media site names use title case. Periodical titles should be in italics, which Citation Maker will do automatically.

Periodical title: Journal of the American Medical Association

Website name: Curiosity Machine

Social media site name: We Heart It

When to Use “As It Appears on the Source” (p. 293)

For social media posts, blog posts, comments on posts, and other online posts without titles, enter the full text exactly as it appears in the post, up to the first 20 words. For social media posts, the text should be in italics, which Citation Maker will do automatically. However, emojis should not be italicized, so after you create your reference list, you may need to remove italics from emojis or fix any that did not copy or transfer correctly.

Tweet => Citation Maker is #awesome 👍 👍 

Online forum comment => What do you think while on the launchpad about to launch? [Comment on the online forum post I'm NASA astronaut Scott Tingle. Ask me anything about adjusting to being back on Earth after my first spaceflight!]

Blog comment => What an exciting interface! Theater and Science have much more overlap than is typically given credit for, I hope that [Comment on the blog post “What scientists can learn from stand-up comedians”]


When to Use Sentence Case (pp. 291-292) 

  • Sources that are part of a greater whole, like journal articles, edited book chapters, television or podcast episodes, and songs or tracks -- The title should not be italicized and should not be in quotes, which Citation Maker accounts for automatically.

Earthquakes: How big will they get? 

Symphony No. 8 in B minor, Op. 47 [Note: "No." and "Op." are capitalized because APA indicates to capitalize nouns (number and opus) that are followed by numbers (8 and 47).]

  • Sources that stand alone, like books, reports, television or podcast series, albums, and webpages -- The title should be in italics, which Citation Maker will do automatically. 

Cool salsa: Bilingual poems on growing up Latino in the United States

  • For an untitled work of art or other visual work, provide a generic description. Include the medium of the source. The description should not be in italics or quotes and should be in square brackets, which Citation Maker will do automatically.

[Necklace of silver with turquoise stones]

[Oil on canvas abstract impressionism painting]

  • For titles in another language, follow the original title with a translation in English, enclosed in brackets and not italicized. Citation Maker will automatically italicize the entire title, so you will have to remove the italics from the bracketed portion after you create your reference list. 

  L'étranger [The stranger] 


Citation Maker will automatically include the correct punctuation in the correct places. However, there are a few exceptions. Here are areas where you will need to add punctuation.


End the main part of the title with a colon, and capitalize the first word of the subtitle.

Cool salsa: Bilingual poems on growing up Latino in the United States

Numbered Volume with Its Own Title from a Multi-volume Set (p. 295)

In the Book Title field, enter the title of the set, followed by a colon. Then enter the abbreviation Vol. and the volume number, followed by a period. Last, enter the title of the volume. Citation Maker will automatically enter a period at the end of the complete title.

UXL encyclopedia of Native American tribes: Vol. 3. Southwest 

Descriptions in Brackets (pp. 292-293)

Citation Maker includes options to describe most sources (like a painting) when required by APA. Sometimes you may want to provide a source description that Citation Maker does not allow for. If so, create your citation, add it to your reference list, and then add the description after the citation’s source title. Do not italicize the description, only capitalize the first word, and enclose it in square brackets. APA does not have rules about the words you can use, but keep the description brief. Be sure that there is a period after the closing bracket. Ex: [Watercolor on fabric].

Examples of descriptions used in Citation Maker:

Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets (J. Dale, Narr.) [Audiobook].

4 steps to manage your diabetes for life [Pamphlet].

Fast food nation [Film].

Stephen Hawking: Questioning the universe [Video].

Star trek [TV series]. 

Garden at Sainte-Adresse [Painting]. 

About [Facebook page].

Healthy eating [PowerPoint slides].


Ending with Punctuation Other than a Period (p. 292)

Include a question mark or exclamation point if it is part of the title. Otherwise, Citation Maker will automatically include the period at the end of a title element in the correct place.

Earthquakes: How big will they get? 

Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets.  

It can’t be true!: The book of incredible visual comparisons.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Elements of reference list entries. APA Style.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

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