Should you capitalize the word about in a headline or title? This depends on several factors: the style guide you are following, the position of about in the title, and its grammatical function. Read on to find out what the various cases are.
AMA, AP, APA, Bluebook, New York Times and Wikipedia Style
If you are following any of these styles, then the handling of about is easy: It must always be capitalized because it has five letters, and these styles capitalize all words with more than three (AMA, AP, APA and New York Times) or more than four letters (Bluebook, Wikpedia).
All About Eve
Can’t Stop Thinking About You
Chicago and MLA Style
In Chicago and MLA style, however, about is at least sometimes not capitalized, since both these styles never capitalize prepositions, no matter how long they are. Let’s start with the cases though in which about is capitalized.
First or Last Word
If about is the first or the last word in a title or heading, then it must be capitalized.
About Last Night
Nothing to Worry About
About must also be capitalized when it’s used as an adverb. This is the case (1) in the construction about to + verb, (2) when it can be replaced with approximately or almost, and (3) when it is used as part of a phrasal verb (e.g., bring about).
(1)The Fun Is About to Begin
(1)For Those About to Rock
(2)It’s About Time to Go
(2)That’s Just About Right
(3)Take Action to Bring About Change
(3)How the Crisis Came About and What It Means
When used as an adjective, as in the following example, about must be capitalized as well:
Be Up and About Early
When about is used as a preposition however, then it is not capitalized in Chicago and MLA style:
Crazy about You
Much Ado about Nothing
The Truth about What Motivates Us
10 TV Shows to Be Excited about in 2022
Tip: If about can be replaced with regarding or concerning, then it is a preposition (although in some cases this only works when the word order is changed: “Be excited regarding these 10 TV shows in 2022”).
If about is shortened to ’bout, then the rules above still apply, except that there is an additional case in which ’bout is lowercased: Since it has only 4 letters, and Bluebook and Wikipedia lowercase prepositions with up to four letters, ’bout must be lowercased in these two styles (and of course also in Chicago and MLA style) when used as a preposition:
Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love
But if you are using AMA, AP, APA or New York Times style, then ’bout needs to be capitalized:
Talkin’ ’Bout My Generation
Tip: Try out the Title Case Converter, which will help you capitalize your titles or headings correctly.
Photo: Ivan Bertolazzi