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Generally, in English titles should have the first letter of their words capitalized (with the exception of connectives), is this something that still applies on the Chemistry SE (or on any SE as a whole)?

I have also noticed in general chemical names/compounds are also Capitalized in titles (whereas they are not in the question body), is this something that should be done too?

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    $\begingroup$ I personally don't think it matters much, but most titles here are in sentence case. Nonetheless, it might be worth discussing whether we should standardise it. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Jun 6 '17 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't recommend "Screaming a title". How does "PLZ HELP ME HOMEWARKKKK!! I FORGOTS MOL CONCAPT!" sound? $\endgroup$ – Pritt says Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '17 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ @PrittBalagopal Sorry I should have worded the question a little better, I mean simply capitalizing the first letter of each word. I completely understand why you shouldn't be using all caps lock for titles. $\endgroup$ – Crafter0800 Jun 6 '17 at 13:10
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As far as I can tell, there are no regulations in place, either on Chem.SE or on the SE network in general. However, the use of sentence case seems to be strongly preferred. Hence,

Is there a general consensus on the causes of the alpha-effect?

is (generally) preferred to the title case alternative

Is There a General Consensus on the Causes of the Alpha-effect?

Some arguments for sentence case are presented in this Meta Stack Exchange post. For the most part I agree that sentence case is more pleasant to see. Note also that most of the "good titles" listed in this FAQ post are in sentence case.


As for names of elements or compounds, these should never be capitalised unless they are at the start of a sentence.

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  • $\begingroup$ With the capitalization of Elements does that include in titles, so even if the rest of the title is capitalized, the elements should still be lower case? $\endgroup$ – Crafter0800 Jun 7 '17 at 10:43
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    $\begingroup$ If your title is in title case then capitalise it, if it's in sentence case don't (unless it's the first word). Sorry I wasn't clear on that, I was thinking more of the question body when I wrote that sentence. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Jun 7 '17 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ I think we should not be running around policing such things, just like we don't do it with flavo(u)rs of English. I prefer sentence form and that the title is an actual question. (Isn't there a connecting word and wouldn't be capitalised?) $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jun 7 '17 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン I agree that there is no need for strict standardisation of title capitalisation, it makes no sense. I was just stating stuff I have found in MSE (and my personal preference), as for capitalisation of chemical names, that is simply ungrammatical and we should not be encouraging that imo $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Jun 7 '17 at 12:18
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My two cents:

If the title is a full grammatical sentence (usually a question), I prefer the use of sentence case:

Why does this alkene addition reaction lead to a racemized mixture of products?

If the title is not a full grammatical sentence, but is more of a descriptive phrase, I prefer the use of title case:

Racemized Products in Alkene Addition Reactions

I've found both approaches to be preferable in different circumstances, so I wouldn't personally advocate for one over the other as a general principle.


Element names are common nouns; as such, their capitalization patterns should be identical to any other common noun:

Thiol Affinities of Silver and Gold

But:

Why does gold commonly exhibit both the +1 and +3 oxidation states, but silver only the +1?

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    $\begingroup$ Racemized Products in Alkene Addition Reactions: I would say that this is a terrible, because highly unspecific title. Any title with this could possibly improved by either generalising it to a conceptual query, or specifying the involved reactants/ products, etc.. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jun 8 '17 at 7:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン I tried for a bit to think of specific products to put in the title, but as I'm useless for OChem nothing really came to mind. I should've chosen a different topic where I could've come up with a better example. $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Jun 8 '17 at 11:01
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The difference you are referring to is the difference between sentence case (upper and lowercase letters as in any sentence) and title case (casing as it would only ever appear in titles).

You do say generally and like any weasel word this is generally true. However, note that it depends on the style guide you are consulting. Not all English style guides recommend title case.


After having gotten the boring out of the way, here are my suggestions:

  • use sentence case if you have a sentence, use title case if not.

  • if you run across capitalised chemical names in a non-title case title, it is most likely a capitalisation mistake. Submit an edit to correct it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Again, I would say titles, which would require title case are usually not very suitable for our format, because they tend to be too unspecific/ not meaningful enough. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jun 8 '17 at 7:13

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