Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Intelligent Title Case.

Intelligent Title Case

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 23, 2017)

5

Word allows you to adjust the case of selected text. If you are using Word 2007 or a later version you can make sure the Home tab of the ribbon is displayed and then clicking the Change Case tool (Aa) in the Font group.

You'll see a list of different ways in which Word can adjust the case of your text. One of the most common case changes is title case. This type of change results in each word of the selected text being uppercase, while the rest of the letters are in lowercase. The only problem with this is that Word is rather indiscriminate in what it capitalizes. For instance, if you select the text "this is a test" and then use the Change Case dialog box to change the text to title case, you end up with "This Is A Test." Common rules of capitalization, however, would dictate that the "short" words ("is" and "a") should not be capitalized.

This is where a macro comes in handy. You can create a macro to intelligently apply title case to a text selection. The macro can be programmed so that it ignores a specific set of words while doing its work. Consider the following macro:

Sub TitleCase()
    Dim lclist As String
    Dim wrd As Integer
    Dim sTest As String

    ' list of lowercase words, surrounded by spaces
    lclist = " of the by to this is from a "

    Selection.Range.Case = wdTitleWord

    For wrd = 2 To Selection.Range.Words.Count
        sTest = Trim(Selection.Range.Words(wrd))
        sTest = " " & LCase(sTest) & " "
        If InStr(lclist, sTest) Then
            Selection.Range.Words(wrd).Case = wdLowerCase
        End If
    Next wrd
End Sub

When you select some text and run this macro, the first thing it does is to change the text to Word's standard title case. It then steps through the words in the selection (Word makes the words available in the Words collection), examining each one. Each word is extracted and placed in the sTest variable, which then is converted to lowercase. The contents of sTest are then checked against the lclist string to see if there is a match. If there is, then the word in the original text is converted to lowercase.

The key to the macro is the lclist string. This string contains a list of words that you want to always appear in lowercase. These words are surrounded by spaces—including the first and last words of the string. When the sTest comparison is done, sTest contains a leading and trailing space so that successful matches can be made. (The spaces are included so that there are no mistakes in word matching, for instance matching "he" to a part of "the".)

Note, as well, that the comparison portion of the macro doesn't pay attention to the first word in the text selection. This word is assumed to be the first word of a phrase or sentence, which should always start with an uppercase character.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3868) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Intelligent Title Case.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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Comments

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What is four less than 4?

2017-09-25 13:43:50

Patricia Boyd

Haha, Rod Grealish! Yes, I guess you're right. If "turn on" means "to become disloyal," as in "Disgusted with the team, Joe turned on them and never attended another game," then "on" should be lowercase, as it's a preposition.


2017-09-24 07:55:22

Gary

The macro above will only work for one sentence of course. You normally wouldn't require Title Case for more than that, but just be aware that if additional sentences are selected this macro will cause each of them to begin with a lower-case letter if the sentence starts with one of the words in the LcList (The, This, From, By, etc).


2017-09-24 05:06:38

Rod Grealish

Presumably there is a semantic difference between "Turn On Your Audience with Music" and "Turn on Your Audience with Music" . :-)


2017-09-23 07:55:00

Patricia Boyd

Great! Thanks for the terrific, time-saving tip! To follow up on Patritica Compton's comment, all the publishers I work for (some major publishers and some Ivy League university presses) want verbs capitalized in titles. Thus, "Is," "Are," "Were," etc. , are capped, even though they are short words. Other readers might want to note this guideline. Additionally, and now I'm showing my true nerdiness, words like "on," and "up" are not always prepositions and, at least for my publishers, are capped: "Turn On Your Audience with Music." Finally, most titles capitalize the first and last word of titles, no matter what the part of speech: "On Being a Beatles Fan," "What Is the Earth's Crust Made Of?"
So your fantastic macro can be used anyway, and the user needs just to quickly skim the title afterward to make sure none of the exceptions cited above exist.
Thanks again!


2017-09-23 06:48:57

Patricia Compton

I believe it is a misunderstanding to say that common rules of capitalization require "short" words to be lower-cased. The rule used to be that articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (sometimes all, or sometimes only those 5 letters or fewer long, depending upon the editor) were not capitalized unless at the beginning of the title. "Is" is a verb, and verbs get capitalized no matter how short they are. I do realize that the "common rules" may have changed since many people are no longer sufficiently educated in grammar to understand what part of speech a particular word represents.


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