Headlines and Titles of Works

Q. I am having a discussion/argument with my author’s editor over the presentation of Pizza and its Variations: Beyond Two Pi R, the title [changed for this forum] of a forthcoming book edited by myself. The title is so presented in the UK edition, and the American publisher is insisting that this is incorrect (or at any rate in defiance of normal convention), and “Its” should be used, despite the fact that the lowercase version appears in the book (whose text will be the same in both editions). Quite apart from the question of consistency, I feel that in the case of this particular title a capital ‘I’ would take the eye away from the two important words, “Pizza” and “Variations.” Do you have a (quick, please!) view?

A. Correct headline-style capitalization as defined by The Chicago Manual of Style would call for capital “Its.” All nouns—pronouns included—get capitalized according to our rule (see paragraph 8.159). And while we are flattered that the American publisher is following our guidelines to a tee, you do have a point. An opposite problem was encountered many years ago with our own publication of the novel A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. According to our rules, “through,” a preposition, would not get a capital “t” in titles. Somebody here objected to this (on the grounds of emphasis and prominence), so we capitalized it on the cover and in promotional materials.

Nonetheless, those who write about Maclean’s book—or cite it—should submit to their editors. We’d write A River Runs through It. And we’d capitalize your Its.