capitalization: compounds

A proper noun or adjective in a hyphenated compound retains the capital:

  • Greco-Roman
  • trans-Canada
  • neo-Nazi
  • Pan-American

In general, do not capitalize prefixes or suffixes added to proper nouns:

  • The President-elect will tour the mid-Atlantic States in an American-made car.

Titles of works

In titles of works, it was once customary to capitalize only the first element in a compound.

However, most style guides today recommend capitalizing all elements in such a compound except articles (a/an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet) and short prepositions of two or three letters:

  • Half-Blood Blues
  • English-Speaking Minorities in Quebec
  • Use of Over-the-Counter Medications During Pregnancy
  • Seizing That Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity
  • Forty-Second Street


If headline-style capitalization is being used, follow the guidelines given above for titles of works.

However, if sentence-style capitalization is being used, do not capitalize the second or subsequent elements in the compound except in the case of a proper noun or adjective.

  • Re-education for development
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Non-French-speaking minorities

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