One of the fundamental title case rules is that the first word of a title must be capitalized. With the exception of AMA, APA, and Bluebook style, the same applies to the last word of a title. But is this also valid if the first word is preceded by an ellipsis, as for example in “… and justice for all”? In title case, would that be “… And Justice for All” or “… and Justice for All”? The same question arises for titles that end with an ellipsis: Is the correct capitalization “All Roads Lead To …”, or rather “All Roads Lead to …”? And what if an ellipsis occurs in the middle of a title?
Titles Starting or Ending with an Ellipsis
This case is not covered by any of the major style guides, so I submitted a question to the Chicago Manual of Style:
According to 8.159, the last word in a title is capitalized, and only one exception is mentioned (lowercase the second part of a species name even if it is the last word in a title). But what about titles that end with a preposition, conjunction or article followed by an ellipsis? I'm thinking of titles like "And the Oscar Goes to …" or "Today and Tomorrow and …". Should the last word in these titles really be capitalized?
I received a reply in which the editor pointed out that they would not consider “to” and “and” to be the “last words” in my example titles. I think this makes sense; after all, an ellipsis indicates that a word or phrase has been omitted. I then submitted a similar question to the AP Stylebook, this time also addressing titles that begin with an ellipsis:
Would you agree that composition titles starting or ending with an ellipsis represent a special case that is exempt from the rule to always capitalize the first and last word? For example, are these titles correctly capitalized? “… and Then There Were Three”, “A Day in the Life of …”. Thank you.
I got the reply that this seemed fine. (This question and the answer are available on the AP Stylebook website, but only to subscribers.)
Finally, I searched the New York Times website for headlines beginning or ending with an ellipsis, and found several, for instance,
And the Oscar for Best City as a Movie Setting Goes to … [source]
How to Tip at the Holidays, According to Doormen, and Nannies, and Weed Guys, and… [source]
Based on this evidence, I think that indeed the rule to always capitalize the first or last word of a title does not apply to titles beginning or ending with an ellipsis, and the Title Case Converter takes this special case into account. Here are a few additional examples:
… to Be Continued
What Ever Happened to …
… and the Rest Will Follow
It’s None of Your Business, but …
Titles with an Ellipsis in the Middle
When used in the middle of a title, an ellipsis often indicates a pause, and the part after the ellipsis is a continuation of the part before it. If that is the case, then the title is capitalized just as if the ellipsis were not there.
Journey to the Land of… Enchantment
Greatest Hits Live … and More
However, an ellipsis is also sometimes used to separate the main title from a subtitle. In such a case, the two part must be capitalized independently:
All the Way… A Decade of Song
It’s Not Over… The Hits So Far
Photo: Martin Woortman (edited)