Headlines and Titles of Works

Q. When an author publishes a work that violates Chicago’s headline capitalization style, should we convert the citation to Chicago style or leave it as the author designated? Is this discussed anywhere in CMOS?

A. It’s not uncommon for the title of a book, article, or other work to use a capitalization style that’s different from the one recommended by Chicago. In (almost) all cases, Chicago style (or whatever style you follow) would take precedence when such a title is mentioned in the text. Most advise applying some variation of headline style (a.k.a. title case).

For example, both the cover and title page for Finding Me, the memoir by Viola Davis (HarperOne, 2022), feature all caps: FINDING ME. Chicago style, as we’ve just seen, would apply title case (and italics).

Or there’s The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor—the Truth and the Turmoil, by Tina Brown (Crown, 2022). On that book’s cover and title page, the main title is in all caps, and the subtitle is in title case. There’s no colon between title and subtitle. Chicago style imposes title case for the main title and adds a colon (see CMOS 8.165).

Not that we’d never make an exception. For example, Chicago style would normally call for Star Trek: Into Darkness as the title of that 2013 film. Both the movie posters and the title screen itself feature all-caps “STAR TREK” on its own line; “INTO DARKNESS” is on the line below that, in a type size that differentiates it from the line above. CMOS would therefore treat “Star Trek” as the main title and “Into Darkness” as the subtitle—adding a colon between the two.

But we know that—after much debate—the world seems to have settled on Star Trek Into Darkness (capital I, no colon). The preposition “into” wouldn’t normally merit a capital I without the colon, and the absence of a colon does seem a little odd, but we’d allow both exceptions in the spirit of maintaining intergalactic harmony.