A brief word on behalf of the humble ‘is’

I’ve been hesitant to write about this, because it’s a bit pedantic and has little to do with the avowed subjects of my weblog. But it’s an irritating itch I have to scratch. Please please, kind reader, do one thing for me. When you write a title, whether for your own blog or in an email, or in some professional capacity in which you are crafting a communication of any kind, please please capitalize the word ‘is’.

Rules for title case in English are a little bizarre. At the risk of oversimplifying (because there’s an exception to every rule) the only words regularly uncapitalized are articles and prepositions. These tend to be small words: a, the, of, with. So it’s only natural that people fall back onto putting any and all small words in lowercase. But verbs should always be capitalized, and especially mighty ‘is’. Next to ‘do’ and ‘did’, ‘is’ probably appears more often in English than any other verb. It is our one verb for identity, a powerful and subtle concept. So please please show it the love and respect it deserves and capitalize it.

Here’s an example: the next time you fire up you editor to rant about “Worse is Better” (either pro, contra, or both), make it “Worse Is Better”. That is certainly better.

Of course, you could just use sentence case for titles, especially when your title is a complete sentence. Titles in Spanish follow this rule — you just capitalize the first word and proper nouns, as you would a sentence. See the title of this very post you’re reading. Why people put sentences in title case (on signs for instance) is beyond me, but that’s another post that I will hopefully spare all of us.

I’m not demanding Chicago style, people. Just respect ‘is’ and you will make it a very happy new year for me.