A, An, The

What to do with an initial, A, An, or The in a title when used in running text. Drop the initial article if it makes the text awkward.

The Town’s College is one of our most useful reference books.
His Town’s College proved to be one of our most useful reference books.

In running text, lowercase the when it precedes the name of a society, association, building, or other proper name, even when it is part of the name. This also applies to the in magazine and newspaper titles. Any initial the in the titles of periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) should be subsumed by the surrounding text or dropped.

The project is funded through the Prudential Foundation.
Reading the New York Times is great way to start the day.

When the name of an entity includes a definite article, such as “The Grille” or  “The Who,” it should be lowercased in running text. “We are eating lunch at the Grille.”


Academic and Professional

Capitalize the title when it precedes the name and is part of the name:

I would like to introduce Doctor John Smith.
President Ronald Liebowitz will be addressing the audience.
We traveled with Professor Bill Johnson.

Do not capitalize when the title follows the name (almost always a descriptor):

John Smith, professor of biology
Barack Obama, president of the United States

Do not capitalize when the title precedes the name, but is acting as a descriptive title:

Renowned geology professor Andrea Lane will deliver the keynote address.
Happily, designer Randy Russet made the costumes.
Meet our bass player Lucinda J. Horvick ’05.
We saw former president of the United States Bill Clinton.
Friends of Middlebury Music president Jane Darling

Exception: A named professorship is always capitalized, no matter where it falls

William Wilson, John M. Martin Professor of Physics, will be there.
John M. Martin Professor of Physics William Wilson will be there.

Trustee Emerita Suzanne Simpson; Suzanne Simpson, trustee emerita; the trustee; the professor; Professor John Jones; John Jones, professor emeritus; Professor Emeritus John Jones.


In general

Middlebury office names that are also used as general terms, such as public affairs, admissions, alumni relations, financial services, and government offices, such as agriculture, commerce, defense, education, transportation, should be lowercased when used in titles that don’t precede the name.

He is the vice president of facilities services.
Sarah James, director of alumni relations.


In vertical lists

For the sake of appearance and consistency, it is permissible to cap all titles and departments in vertical lists, appearing in program notes, president reports, etc.

Mary Smith, Professor of Geology
Fred Dartmouth, Milton Johnson Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies
David Jones, Assistant Professor of English
Dorothy Bartlett, William Loadstone Professor of Environmental Studies



Course titles combine the department code with a numerical designation and the title: JAPN 0101 First-Year Japanese. Place a space between the department code and the course number. Course titles are printed in roman type, capped, with no quotation marks. It is not necessary to include the course number in general interest texts.

Professor Smith’s course the Beginning of the Universe has had a waiting list for several years.


Departments and Offices

Running text—Departments and offices are capped only when the full, correct name is used:

Go to the Office of the Dean of the College if you have questions.
Someone in the dean’s office will be able to help.
The Department of Biology will move to the new science center.
All of the science departments, including the biology department, will move.
The Middlebury Museum of Art has a new installation.
There is a new installation at the art museum.

In lists—see professional titles above. It is permissible to cap all offices and departments for the sake of consistency and readability.


Creative Works


Paintings, Photographs, Sculpture, etc.

Titles of works of art of most types are capped and italicized, including cartoons and photographs.

The FBI lists Munch’s The Scream as one of the most stolen works of art.
Yosemite Valley, Winter
is one of Ansel Adams’s most striking photos.
People always enjoy reading The Far Side.

If the name is from antiquity and the creator is unknown, usually the title is capped in roman type:

The museum has the rare Palace Bowl on display.


Art Exhibitions

Names of large-scale exhibitions are capped, roman type.  Small-scale exhibitions (at a local museum) and their exhibition catalog titles are italicized.

The Toronto World’s Fair
The new exhibit at the art museum, Mixed Signals, is extraordinary.



Movies, Television, Radio, Plays

Movies, ongoing television and radio programs, and plays are capped and italicized:

We enjoyed reruns of Leave It to Beaver
The blockbuster Live Free or Die Hard was not my favorite.

Television and radio series are capped with no quotation marks:

The American Idol series broke records for viewership three years running.

Individual episodes of television and radio series are capped, with quotation marks:

“Ultimatum” was one of best episodes of The Office.




Cap generic name, no quotes: Piano Sonata no. 2
Italicize descriptive title: Dances of the Band of David
Lowercase n for no.
Lowercase opus, op.
Cap Major and Minor: Bach’s Mass in B Minor

Operas and songs:

Long compositions are italicized, shorter ones set in quotes, roman type

“The Star Spangled Banner”
The Marriage of Figaro


An album is italicized. Individual tracks take caps and quotation marks. The name of the performer is set in roman type:

The CD Home for the Holidays includes music by the Middlebury Chamber Singers and a solo performance by Jason Judge, singing “Midnight in Vermont.”


Web Works


Named blogs are italicized. An initial “the” is treated as part of the title.

Peter Dominick is my favorite blogger. Have you read The Upbeat Town yet?

Specific blog entries are capped with quotation marks.

“My Time Has Come,” a post in Today’s Ruminations, outlines his plans.



Treat podcasts and video blogs similarly to blogs. Regularly published features are italicized. Individual segments are capped with quotation marks.



Website titles may consist of the name of the site, may use part of the domain name, or may refer to the entity responsible for the site.

In running text, use roman type, headline-style, without quotation marks. An initial “the” is lowercased midsentence.

Google; Google Maps; White House.gov; Amazon; NYTimes.com

Some websites, however, are closely linked or completely similar to their print publications, and are therefore styled accordingly.

Chicago Manual of Style Online has the answers to your questions.
I found the spelling in Merriam-Webster.com.

Pages or sections of websites are capped, headline style, and placed in quotation marks.

To find the answers, visit “Frequently Asked Questions,” at Middlebury.edu.


Written Works


Italicize book titles.

Please read The College on the Hill.

An initial A, An, or The may be dropped if it does not fit the syntax of a sentence.

Book series:

Use roman type, headline style, without quotation marks, for the names of book series or editions. The words series and edition are lowercased when they are not part of the title:

Norton Books Field Guide series

Periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and newsletters):

Capitalize and italicize, except for a “the” in the title. This is because some periodicals use “the” as part of their title and some do not; the most consistent approach is to leave it out of the title:

The story appeared in the New York Times.

Periodical titles included in the names of awards, buildings, organizations are not italicized:

Middlebury Magazine Short Story Prize
Tribune Towers

Magazine Articles and Short Stories:

Roman type, capitalize, and quotation marks:

The story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was first published in the New Yorker, in 1939.

Poems and Plays

Plays and long poems are italicized and capitalized:

Paradise Lost will take you a while to read.
We have tickets to A Christmas Carol.

Short poems are capped with quotation marks. Poems identified by their first lines are capped, sentence style, with quotation marks.

Frost’s “A Prayer in Spring” seems apt right now.
“Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?” is my favorite sonnet.


Unpublished Works

Dissertations, speeches, manuscripts, student work including posters:
Roman type, headline style, and enclose in quotation marks:

“An Investigation into Nomenclature Anomalies in Biological Systems”


Miscellaneous Titles

College symposium: Capped with quotation marks
Lecture series: Cap only
Lecture: Capped with quotation marks
College course: Capped only
Text on Signs: Capitalized, headline style