The word as is short and inconspicuous, but it’s one of the most difficult words to capitalize correctly in titles and headlines. It is not hard in every title case style though; there are also styles where its capitalization is straightforward. Let’s explore the different cases.
AMA, AP, APA, Bluebook, MLA, and Wikipedia
In these six styles, the capitalization of as depends on its word class. There are three possibilities here: as can be an adverb, a conjunction, or a preposition. The difficulty is determining which word class applies for each occurrence of as.
According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, as is an adverb in the following cases:
1. When it means “to the same degree or amount”:
But Tuesday is just as bad
Half as fast
Your guess is as good as mine
[NB: In the last example, only the first as is an adverb.]
2. When it has the meaning “for instance; such as”:
Metabolic diseases, as diabetes and obesity
Big companies such as Apple and Amazon
3. And finally, to convey “when considered in a specified form or relation”. Merriam-Webster also notes that in this sense, as is typically used before a preposition or participle.
Guilty as charged
Take as needed for Pain
When used as an adverb, as must be capitalized in all six styles:
Twice As Nice
We Serve Classic Dishes Such As Omelettes, Pancakes and Burgers
Functionality Not Working As Expected
[NB: But see below for Chicago and New York Times style.]
The word as can also be a subordinating conjunction. In somewhat simplified terms, a subordinating conjunction joins two clauses, and a clause contains at least a subject and a verb. In the following examples, the subject is underlined, and the verb is underlined twice.
Do as I do
As far as my feet will carry me
According to Merriam-Webster, as is also conjunction when used in comparisons even when there is no verb, probably because the verb is implied:
Black as night (= as black as the night is)
Not as good as the book (= not as good as the book is)
How subordinating conjunctions are handled depends on the style. In AMA, Bluebook, MLA, and Wikipedia style, they are capitalized:
Cold As Ice
Our Policy Remains As It Is
In AP and APA style, on the other hand, short subordinating conjunctions are lowercased:
Cold as Ice
Our Policy Remains as It Is
Finally, as can be a preposition. This is the case when it is used to refer to someone’s (or something’s) character, function, or role:
Serving as a witness
Hailed as hero
They were treated as foreigners
When used as a preposition, as is lowercased according to all styles:
Teen Tried as Adult
Life as a Parent
Athletes as Role Models
Chicago and New York Times
In contrast to the six styles discussed so far, the Chicago Manual of Style and the New York Times have a pragmatic way to handle as: They stipulate that it should always be lowercased, independent of its grammatical function (i.e., even when used as an adverb, which is unusual for title case):
America as Seen by a Frenchman
Nothing Ever Goes as Planned
I think there are two reasons for this special rule. As shown above, determining the word class of as can be difficult. But furthermore, as is a word that often occurs more than once in a title (for example in the phrase “as fast/good/loud/… as”), and capitalizing the occurrences differently looks odd. The approach by the Chicago Manual of Style and the New York Times solves both issues.
The following phrase from “The Handbook of Good English” by Edward D. Johnson contains as in all three functions: adverb, conjunction, and preposition (in this order):
Not as kind as those who come as friends
Here is how this example looks in the various title case styles:
Chicago, NY Times:
Not as Kind as Those Who Come as Friends
Not As Kind as Those Who Come as Friends
AMA, BB, MLA, WP:
Not As Kind As Those Who Come as Friends
Capitalizing as is considerably easier in Chicago and in New York Times style than in the other styles. If you are free to choose a title case style, this is a factor you might want to take into consideration.
But no matter which title case style you follow, the Title Case Converter will automatically capitalize your headlines and titles according to the rules of the style of your choice.
Photo: zeynep elif ozdemir