Headlines and Titles of Works
Q. Hello, my name is Brett and I work for a law enforcement agency in Arizona. My colleagues and I were having a discussion about what does and does not get capitalized in our reports pertaining to laws and arrest charges. I am seeking your guidance on this subject. Could you tell me what gets capitalized and what does not get capitalized in the following sentence: “John Doe was arrested for ADC Parole Violation Warrant 03W3250, Theft of Means of Transportation and Unlawful Flight from Law Enforcement.” Some say the sentence is correct as is; however, others say that the letters in the arrest charges should not be capitalized. Could you please assist me in this matter? Thank you for your help.
A. It’s heartwarming that Arizona law enforcers are taking care with capitalization! Your sentence is fine as it is, although it wouldn’t be wrong to lowercase everything. If you and your colleagues feel there should be consistency in these matters, you could agree on a house style and keep a list of examples. While Chicago style tends to prefer lowercasing in general, there are good reasons to uppercase the titles of laws and charges—it helps the reader know where the title begins and ends and makes it stand out in the text, so it’s quickly found if someone is skimming for it.