HuffPost Headline Capitalization
The Huffington Post has a weird headline-capitalization policy that throws me for a loop every time I visit the site. Their policy: Capitalize the first letter of every word in headlines. Every Single Word. It’s not wrong. It’s not bad. But it looks bad to me because I know that’s not how most pros do it.
I often try to make the case that little deviations from professional publishing standards can hurt your image even among people who don’t know those standards. For example, a reader who doesn’t know that a comma always comes before a closing quotation mark in American English may subconsciously notice that that, when someone breaks that rule, something just “doesn’t look right.” I have a vested interest in believing this. If people pick up on little markers of unprofessional writing, well, then, my job as enforcer of rules is that much safer.
In the case of headline capitalization, it’s not so much about rules as it is about standards. Most publishing outlets follow some system in which most but not all words in a headline start with a capital letter. The exceptions are the articles a, an and the (unless the very first or last word of the headline); the conjunctions and, or, but, and so; and short prepositions – usually just those with three letters or fewer or, in some cases, of four letters or fewer.
But Huffington Post formats its headlines like this: Suspect In Shooting Had A Record and Senator's Rating Plummets To Record Low.
Just about anywhere else in the news world, the words in and a would be lowercase in the first headline and to would be lowercase in the second. So these headlines don’t look great to me. But that’s probably just me ...