Prahlad Yeri

Freelance Programmer and Writer

Title case headlines are highly overrated


There are various misconceptions in the blogging world surrounding title cases these days and there are many who advocate putting all your headlines in title case, some of them are:

  • "It Looks Good": The most commonly thrown argument is that title cases are somehow aesthetically pleasing or they look good. However, the "looks good" factor is obviously subjective, some may like it and others may not. In my opinion, they seem to be more readable initially but after a while, they get irritating. What also needs to be said here is that the h1 tag does its job remarkably well, and the fonts and styling you use have a much greater impact here than whether you use a title case headline or not. For example, there are display classes in Bootstrap CSS framework (d-1, d-2, etc.) which make the letters even bolder and larger than normal h1 tags.

  • "Good for SEO": That they're good for SEO is yet another baseless argument. Google not only keeps its search algorithm well hidden but also changes it from time to time, there is no way for us to know whether or not they consider title case headlines for page ranking. However, if you perform a casual analysis of what kind of search results typically come up on the first page of your search results, you'll find a good mix of both title and sentence cases.

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The important thing for readability is not a title case headline but maintaining consistency and that's much easier to do with the sentence or proper casing. Writing title case headlines is difficult because there are no universally accepted rules to determine which words to capitalize. It's generally accepted that nouns and adjectives must be capitalized but what about minor and commonly used terms like the, of, to, like, etc.? Should we always capitalize some of them and if so, which ones? APA might differ from MLA style for some classes of words, your own grammar school might say something else! With sentence casing, there is always a natural consistency and less confusion because you just capitalize the first letter of the sentence and proper nouns.

Finally, some people want to push the narrative that title case headlines are somehow the norm or what the "experts" do but that's not true at all. The opinion is highly divided on this matter and this can be easily understood by performing a simple case study. The most professional and authoritative blogs who's works can be trusted are reputed news agencies or circulating magazines. You can perform this case study for any topic you want but since the Ukraine conflict is presently a hot topic, I did a simple Google search for "Ukraine news" and this is what I found:

title-case-headlines-are-overrated

Only two news agencies (NDTV and News-18) have used title case, all the others including Hindustan Times, India Today, The Hindu, etc. have all used sentence casing. Needless to say, these are all highly reputed news agencies who's reportage people trust in both mainstream and social media. And as you can see, both title and sentence casing can be observed across the industry.

Needless to say, they follow this rule consistently too, most NDTV articles will have title case headlines and most India Today articles will follow sentence casing. With these examples, we can clearly see that there is no such norm that title casing should be followed at all times, and there is a good opinion divide between title and sentence casing. As I said earlier, personally I prefer sentence casing because not only do the headlines look better (at least to me!) but it's also very easy to define and less confusing.


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