Capitalization of Titles

French capitalization
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Majuscules dans les titres

Unlike most areas of French grammar, the capitalization of French titles of books, movies, etc. does not follow a clearly defined set of rules. According to Le bon usage, French title capitalization is inconsistent, with competing systems used by writers, publishers, and other authoritative sources. So if you’re writing for someone else, such as a teacher or editor, it’s a good idea to check with them to find out which system they prefer, Otherwise, if you’re able to choose your own, here are the most common options.

1. Sentence Case

The simplest way to capitalize is with the sentence case system in which, like in any sentence, only the first word is capitalized.*

Par exemple…

  • Dictionnaire des citations françaises1
  • Nouveau dictionnaire des difficultés du français moderne1
  • Le bon usage1
  • Le grand Robert
  • Le rouge et le noir
  • Nouvelle grammaire du français : Cours de civilisation française de la Sorbonne

* As well as proper nouns, of course, which are always capitalized in all of these systems.

2. Modified Sentence Case

If the first word is a definite article, some leave it lower case in favor of capitalizing the more important word that follows.

  • le Bon usage
  • le Grand Robert2
  • le Rouge et le noir

3. Title Case

In this system, the first word and any important nouns in the title are capitalized.

  • Dictionnaire des Citations françaises
  • Nouveau dictionnaire des Difficultés du français moderne
  • Le bon Usage
  • Le grand Robert
  • Le Rouge et le Noir3
  • Nouvelle Grammaire du français : Cours de Civilisation française de la Sorbonne

4. Title Case +

Here, in addition to important nouns, the adjectives modifying them are capitalized, especially when the adjective precedes the noun.

  • Le Bon Usage
  • Le Grand Robert
  • Nouvelle Grammaire du Français : Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne4

 Notes

1 As printed on these reference books.

2 As written in the preface to the 2013 edition of this software.

3 As printed on this novel.

4 As printed on this course manual.

 Related lessons

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French title capitalization

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