Capitalizing Titles

Teaching Students to Write Titles

Students need to know how to write titles correctly when they begin writing research papers. This skill is also in the 5th grade Common Core State Standards.

Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to indicate titles of works.

The skill is not difficult to learn. Students need to remember just a few rules.

For your convenience, all activities for this post are in the same handout. You can get it here.

Learning Capitalization and Punctuation Rules

Writing Titles Anchor Chart

Students like to have a list of rules to follow. When the guesswork is removed, students feel confident in their work.

Rule 1 – Capitalizing Titles

Capitalize the first word, the last word, and each important word in the middle when writing titles.

Words that are not important include:

  • articles (a, an, the)
  • coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
  • prepositions that are less than five letters (in, of, to, on, from, by. . . )

Rule 2 – Punctuating Titles

Underline the title of any book, magazine, or newspaper (longer complete materials). Enclose titles of reports, songs, and poems (shorter or small parts of a complete material) in quotation marks.

Writing Titles Lesson

Writing Titles Correctly

Begin your lesson by having students name things they read… books, song lyrics, magazines, newspapers, short stories, and so on.

List these as they are named either by writing on a whiteboard or typing on a computer that can be displayed for the class on a SmartBoard or similar device. Ask guiding questions so that you have a good list with a wide variety of texts.

Next, have students categorize these as long or short. Explain to students before this activity that short usually means a part of something longer. For example, a chapter is part of a book. An article is part of a book, magazine, or newspaper.

For a typed list,  highlight text types using two colors. For written lists, use underlines and quotation marks to categorize the types of text.

This simple, yet effective, activity really “paints” a picture for students.  


Writing Titles Correctly

Grab the handouts for this lesson. You will receive three activities.

  1. A printable version of the lesson hook – On this page, a number of text types are listed. Students highlight the text types. One color is used for text types that should be underlined. A different color is used if quotations are used for this text type.
  2. The next activity is a printable organizer. Students write both capitalization and punctuation rules on the organizer. This foldable organizer can be placed in interactive notebooks. Students can reference the rules as needed throughout the school year.
  3. The third activity is practice. Students correct a list of 25 titles. These include books, songs, short stories, magazines, movies, and so on.

If you missed the handout link, here it is again.

Gay Miller

Permanent link to this article: