• U.S. members: The Federal Government is offering each household in the United States four (4) free at-home Covid-19 test kits. https://www.covidtests.gov/

Book titles in all CAPS?

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Laurie

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
161
Reaction score
18
Location
Not where I want to be
Website
elspeth.celtichearts.com
At a conference, an agent who ran a two-session seminar stated book titles should be in all CAPS. That it was the publishing world standard, and to not do it was to expose yourself as an amateur. And yet, I've read letters from agents who don't do this.

Are all CAPS the standard?
 

aadams73

A Work in Progress
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
9,901
Reaction score
6,428
Location
Oregon
Looking back through my rejections I see that all caps have been used 100% of the time. I say go with the standard.
 

Julie Worth

What? I have a title?
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 16, 2005
Messages
5,198
Reaction score
915
Location
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Laurie said:
Are all CAPS the standard?

Only for the book you're hawking, I believe. All others you put in italics. It’s one of those little things that says you’re not a complete idiot.



 

arkady

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
582
Reaction score
63
Laurie said:
At a conference, an agent who ran a two-session seminar stated book titles should be in all CAPS. That it was the publishing world standard, and to not do it was to expose yourself as an amateur. And yet, I've read letters from agents who don't do this.

Are all CAPS the standard?

Are you talking about in the query letter, or on the cover page of the manuscript?
 

victoriastrauss

Writer Beware Goddess
Kind Benefactor
Absolute Sage
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
6,703
Reaction score
1,296
Location
Far from the madding crowd
Website
www.victoriastrauss.com
Julie Worth said:
Only for the book you're hawking, I believe. All others you put in italics. It’s one of those little things that says you’re not a complete idiot.
Uh...Julie...I assume you're joking. If not, this is bizarre advice.

There is no Rule From On High that dictates that you must put book titles in caps. If you want to do it, fine--many people do, though there are some who find it annoying--but if you don't, italics are equally fine.

- Victoria
 

Julie Worth

What? I have a title?
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 16, 2005
Messages
5,198
Reaction score
915
Location
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
victoriastrauss said:
Uh...Julie...I assume you're joking. If not, this is bizarre advice.

There is no Rule From On High that dictates that you must put book titles in caps. If you want to do it, fine--many people do, though there are some who find it annoying--but if you don't, italics are equally fine.

- Victoria

Perhaps it is bizarre, but I've heard it many times. Noah Lukeman says it, for instance. See here. Scroll halfway down. It's in the box.

 

victoriastrauss

Writer Beware Goddess
Kind Benefactor
Absolute Sage
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
6,703
Reaction score
1,296
Location
Far from the madding crowd
Website
www.victoriastrauss.com
Julie Worth said:
Noah Lukeman says it, for instance. See here. Scroll halfway down. It's in the box.
Well, that's just...weird. I have never seen this advice anywhere else. Lukeman is an accomplished agent, but I think he's off the mark with this one. Never once have I heard an industry pro say that TITLES IN ALL CAPS is a sign of professionalism--and I have heard more than one comment that they find it irritating.

Writers love to sweat the small stuff--titles in caps, the number of spaces in an indent, whether to put page numbers at the top or bottom, etc. But really, as long as you follow the basic formatting guidelines, keep it neat and consistent, and make sure you don't have careless errors, you should be fine.

- Victoria
 

Emerson Dell

Italics Don't Work for Email

I followed this discussion with great interest because proper grammar and punctuation matter to me. Have noticed with irritation that the NY Times Book Review section uses quotes around book titles. I was taught that book titles go in italics. Chapter or short story titles go in quotes. Then I started sending out queries (following the rules I was taught) and noticed that the email replies I got from agents always had book titles in all caps. And, more importantly, when the responses included my original email, all the care I'd taken with italics had disastrous results...let's say a book is titled GONE WITH THE WIND. If I used italics in my original email, it would come home to me as: /Gone With the Wind/ or something like that. So I've switched to all caps. I will NOT use the NY Times method of putting quotes around book titles. That is something up with which I will not put.
 

Jamesaritchie

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Messages
27,863
Reaction score
2,306
Caps

I have heard a few idustry professionals say you should put the Book title in caps when querying, and that the characters names should be in caps, etc.

But most I know find it annoying, and I doubt anyone, anywhere really give a darn.

It annoys me, so I never have put a title in all caps, and have never suggested anyone else should do so.

I think it all goes back to do whatever you know a particular agent or editor wants, and if you don't know what they want, don't worry about. Putting things in all caps is certainly irritating to many.

And no agent or editor has every asked me to put a title in italics, and I've never read such in guidelines anywhere.
 

Jamesaritchie

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Messages
27,863
Reaction score
2,306
Emerson Dell said:
I followed this discussion with great interest because proper grammar and punctuation matter to me. Have noticed with irritation that the NY Times Book Review section uses quotes around book titles. I was taught that book titles go in italics. Chapter or short story titles go in quotes. Then I started sending out queries (following the rules I was taught) and noticed that the email replies I got from agents always had book titles in all caps. And, more importantly, when the responses included my original email, all the care I'd taken with italics had disastrous results...let's say a book is titled GONE WITH THE WIND. If I used italics in my original email, it would come home to me as: /Gone With the Wind/ or something like that. So I've switched to all caps. I will NOT use the NY Times method of putting quotes around book titles. That is something up with which I will not put.

Just do what works for you. I hate book titles in cap. It annoys me to no end. I hate it.

From the standpoint fo grammar, book titles should be in italics. From a readability standpoint, however, putting a title in quotes generally makes for ease of reading, and it's grown very common. I know the grammar, but I greatly prefer titles in quotation marks, and it's what I've been doing for years.
 

maestrowork

Fear the Death Ray
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
43,746
Reaction score
8,647
Location
Los Angeles
Website
www.amazon.com
Some agents do use all caps for BOOK TITLES in email, because in text email, you can't italicize the title. But in a query letter (paper), you should just italicize the Book Title.
 

Irysangel

She of Many Names
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 19, 2005
Messages
1,711
Reaction score
936
Really? I never italicized mine. I used all caps. Didn't hurt me any. *G*

Seriously though, I don't think it matters one bit, as long as they can tell what part of the sentence is the novel title and not you spouting out gibberish. ;)
 

broughcut

I Can't Get Started
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2006
Messages
187
Reaction score
20
Laurie said:
At a conference, an agent who ran a two-session seminar stated book titles should be in all CAPS. That it was the publishing world standard, and to not do it was to expose yourself as an amateur.

Better to be exposed as an amateur than a professional query letter writer.
 

RJK

Sheriff Bullwinkle the Poet says:
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 6, 2007
Messages
3,415
Reaction score
439
Location
Lewiston, NY
I just read Noah Lukeman's HOW TO WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER. He insists that ALL CAPS is the industry standard and a query letter with your Novel written any other way depicts you as an amateur. He did say it's OK to put other's titles in italics, but yours MUST BE IN CAPS.
 

Lucy Dashwood

Registered
Joined
Jul 20, 2009
Messages
35
Reaction score
3
Ask 3 people get 5 opinions. When I was writing screenplays there were 2 schools of thought. 1)--include the WGA registration number on the front page so the reader is assured you won't come back and say they stole the idea. 2)--including the WGA registration number makes you look like a dopey rank amateur who thinks their crappy idea is in danger of being stolen. I (member of the WGA so no rank amateur) sent a registered script to Susan St James on the insistence of someone who knew us both. Ms James' assistant sent it back saying they would never read an unregistered script. I wrote back assuring her it was registered. Crickets. That's the last time I gave a la-di-da about such minimal issues.

Write the best story you can. That's all you can do. You can't accommodate everyone's psychological tics and twitches. If they pass because something was capitalized when it should have been italicized, do you really want to work with someone that unhinged?
 

Danthia

It's the standard, but if you don't do it, you won't get rejected because of it. I went back and checked mine, and I used italics, and got plenty of page requests. The story is what matters. Those kinds of "errors" are the ones agents ignore, as they have no bearing on your ability to write or tell a great story.
 

MsGneiss

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 26, 2008
Messages
1,595
Reaction score
262
Location
New York City
Hey there, folks - felt like chiming in. Since quite a lot of people still read their email in plain text, your formatting (like Italics) will be lost once they receive it. In fact, depending on your text editor, they may even get it with a bunch of strange characters. That's why, I think, ALL CAPS makes much more sense - it is not formatting, and will look the same regardless of the system where it is read.
 

Madisonwrites

The Unicorn Writer
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 24, 2008
Messages
2,798
Reaction score
106
Location
Queryland
Website
madisonlovestowrite.blogspot.com
Personally, I follow the standard, so my titles are in CAPS. Doesn't bother me. Italics don't bother me. Quotation marks don't bother me. So whatever the industry standard, that's what I do.

But hey, I've heard that even a sloppy query letter can snag an agent if the story is interesting enough, so like someone else said, don't sweat the small stuff. :)

Good luck and happy writing! :D
 

Robert E. Keller

Likes heroic fantasy and hot coffee
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 17, 2009
Messages
229
Reaction score
19
Location
Northern Michigan, pretty much in the woods
Website
www.robertekeller.net
Wait, I've got the perfect solution. "JUST ITALICIZE YOUR ALL CAPS TITLE AND PUT IT IN QUOTES!" Then, insert a note explaining that you weren't sure how the agent preferred it so you were trying to cover all the bases. (At the end of your note, be sure to remind the agent that he or she is reading a query letter with a story idea or two inserted.)

Actually, don't do any of that. :)
 

IceCreamEmpress

Hapless Virago
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
6,449
Reaction score
1,320
I just read Noah Lukeman's HOW TO WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER. He insists that ALL CAPS is the industry standard and a query letter with your Novel written any other way depicts you as an amateur. He did say it's OK to put other's titles in italics, but yours MUST BE IN CAPS.

Yeah, Noah Lukeman's advice is very idiosyncratic (note his thing about never using your protagonist's name in the query, which most other agents would hate). It would certainly be a good idea when querying Lukeman to be sure to put your title in caps, but nobody else is going to care if it's in caps or in italics.

Not in quotation marks or underlined, though. Those are just wrong (except at the New York Times, which has its own idiosyncratic style sheet).
 

Exir

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 4, 2008
Messages
1,755
Reaction score
173
Location
SoCal (Rancho Cucamonga)
For me, Queries = makes sense + nothing out of whack + respectful and professional

I'll go with ALL CAPS because emails might not show italics. But, really, no agent is gonna throw your query away just because of something like this.

A query that is 1) confusing 2) boring 3) full of clunky sentences 4) grammatically incorrect WILL get you a rejection, though.
 

Donna Pudick

Banned
Flounced
Joined
Dec 21, 2005
Messages
287
Reaction score
10
Location
Florida
Honest to God, agents and editors are so damn busy, no one gives a hoot how you address your title. A high percentage of queries, partials and fulls are sent by email these days. Often, the appearance changes dramatically when it's received, depending on the computer that's receiving it.
 

scope

Commonsensical Maverick
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 30, 2008
Messages
2,763
Reaction score
251
Location
New York
Writers love to sweat the small stuff--titles in caps, the number of spaces in an indent, whether to put page numbers at the top or bottom, etc. But really, as long as you follow the basic formatting guidelines, keep it neat and consistent, and make sure you don't have careless errors, you should be fine.

- Victoria


I couldn't agree more.

I use italics. I really dislike the screaming "all caps." Personally, I find a book title that's all to be disturbing - all the time - but particularly in a query letter.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away