Title Capitalization Blog

Is By Capitalized in a Title?

Capitalizing the word by correctly in a title is not as easy as it might look, since that depends on the grammatical function in which it is used: preposition or adverb. The position of by in the title and the title case style used also play a role. All cases are discussed in the following.

By Used as a Preposition

Let’s start with an easy case: By is not capitalized when it is used as a preposition. In such a case, it is followed by a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun, which is also called the object of the preposition. In the following examples, the object is underlined:
Sitting by the Riverside
Blinded by the Light
North by Northwest
Sometimes, the order is reversed, and the object comes before the preposition:
Five Critical Rules to Abide by When Leading a New Team

By Used as an Adverb

In contrast, by must be capitalized when it is an adverb. This is the case when it is used in a particle verb, for example, “stop by”, “drop by,” or “get by”:
How to Get By When You’re Broke
Pop By for a Visit
Time Seems to Fly By When You’re Having Fun
Note that there is no noun or noun phrase following by in these examples.
Something to keep in mind is that several verbs can be followed by the preposition by or the adverb by. Compare:
Preposition:Stand by Your Man
Adverb:Stand By for Action
Preposition:Police Officers Went by the Book
Adverb:Days Went By Without Incident

By as the First Word or Last Word

The position of by in a title can also be relevant. A trivial case is the use of by as the first word. In that position it is always capitalized:
By Any Means Necessary
Not quite so trivial is the use of by as the last word. Only some title case styles (AP, Chicago, MLA, New York Times, and Wikipedia) always capitalize the last word of a title:
Rules to Live By
AMA, APA, and Bluebook style however do not have such a rule, which means the preposition by is not capitalized in these styles when it occurs as the last word:
Something to Remember Them by


If you’re unsure how to capitalize a title correctly, you can simply use the Title Case Converter, which will do that for you.
Photo: Jon Tyson