Almost everyone has memorized a few writing convention rules over the years. Capitalize the first word in a sentence. Capitalize proper nouns such the name of a person, city or country. Some rules, such as how to write chapter titles in an essay, don't receive top priority in our memory banks. Whether or not you look up the rules for writing chapter titles, getting them correct matters for an essay.

Find the correct chapters titles in your book. Use the book's table of contents, or turn to each chapter's beginning to find chapter titles easily.

Copy the chapter titles into your essay. Include all punctuation marks, such as exclamation points and question marks, if they appear as part of a chapter's title.

Capitalize the first word, last word and all important words in each chapter title. Important words to capitalize include all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Capitalize articles--a, an, the--only if they appear as the first or last word in a chapter title.

Place double quotation marks around each entire chapter title. A correctly formatted chapter title would appear as: "A Mid-November Day on the Mountain."

Reference the book author's name and full book title. Either in the body of your essay or in an attached bibliography, give full credit to the author.


  • American Psychological Association (APA) style uses a different format for chapter titles. It capitalizes only the first word and proper nouns. All other words, such as verbs, adjectives and adverbs, appear in lowercase. APA style also does not use quotation marks around chapter titles.


  • Some books use chapter numbers instead of chapter titles. In these cases, referencing the chapters by number is acceptable.

  • If a book uses both chapter titles and numbers, write out the chapter titles for clarity.

  • This chapter title format works for both the Chicago Manual of Style and the Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook.