Is Is Capitalized in Titles?


This is my cat, Buff Buff.  He’s in a box!

Is, with just its two lovely letters, seems to confuse many people as they go about capitalizing chapter titles, article titles, subtitles, and so forth.

Should is be capitalized in titles? Let’s find out.

(Okay, if you’re looking for the quick answer, it’s: yes, you should capitalize is in titles. If you want to discover why it should be capitalized, read on. You can also find a full review of how to write titles here.)

First, let’s review which words get capitalized in titles (according to The Chicago Manual of Style).

  1. First and last words
  2. Nouns
  3. Verbs
  4. Pronouns
  5. Adjectives
  6. Adverbs

Is (like pillage, splatter, and giggle) is a verb. So, even though it’s a teeny tiny verb, it still gets the full capitalization treatment.

Let’s check out this example:

The Cat Is in the Box

The verb in this title is is, so it gets capitalized.

Here’s another:

The Cat Is in the Box, and He Looks Confused

Is and Looks are both verbs in this title. They both get capitalized.

And, when in doubt, you can always cheat. There is a handy dandy online tool named Capitalize My Title that will do the work for you. Simply type in the words of your title, and—voilà—it formats it for you in whichever style you wish.

Erin Servais is a freelance book editor and cat fancier. To learn more about her services, visit


What Does “Peccadillo” Mean?



Using the wrong fork at dinner is some people’s peccadillo.

Are you looking for a word to describe something that annoys you, but isn’t irksome enough to write a letter to the editor about (well, unless you’re that kind of person)?

Try peccadillo.

Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines it:

peccadillo: a small mistake or fault that is not regarded as very bad or serious

A person’s peccadillo could be that their partner doesn’t fold laundry the way they like it, or their friend insists on driving exactly five miles over the speed limit. Peccadillo covers minor offenses. That means genocide, for example, falls outside most people’s peccadillo boundaries.

Humans have long needed a term to differentiate between a minor and a major fault. Peccadillo originates in English from the end of the 1500s, when English speakers borrowed it from the Spanish. In Spanish peccadillo means also means a minor sin, whereas pecado means a greater sin.

What are your peccadilloes? Tell me in the comments below.

Ten Quotes You’re Getting Wrong



Curiosity killed the cat, but did it stay dead?

You think you know a saying. You’ve heard it over and over (and over), so you never questioned it. Maybe you should. It turns out that many quotes we all know by heart are incorrect. Sometimes they’re a word or two off, and sometimes they are way different.

Here’s a list of ten quotations often misquoted.

  1. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What Gandhi actually said was “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.” The real quote is quite different from the popular version. It’s saying that personal and social change happen together, not that personal change alone is enough.

  1. “Nice guys finish last.”

This saying has been attributed to Leo Durocher, the baseball hall of famer also known as Leo the Lip. What he really said, when referring to an opposing team, was “All nice guys. They’ll finish last.” It’s not quite as catchy, but it still gets the point across.

  1. “Curiosity killed the cat.”

The earliest known printed reference of this phrase dates to 1912 as part of a proverb printed in The Titusville Herald newspaper. It reads: “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” This time, the real quotation differs drastically from the well-known version. The cat doesn’t stay dead; he comes back to life once he’s satisfied (from eating ghost mice, perhaps).

  1. “The end justifies the means.”

Do you think Niccolo Machiavelli said this? Most people do. However, it’s nowhere to be found in The Prince. The closest to this the Italian philosopher and writer got was “One must consider the final result,” which doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

  1. “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

All those high school social studies teachers have it wrong. The true quote is “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s attributed to Lord John Dalberg-Acton, a famous British historian from the nineteenth century.

  1. “My country, right or wrong.”

This is only the first part of what the German revolutionary and American statesman, Carl Shurz, said in 1872. The full quote is “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” The correct version has the opposite idea of the slogan nationalists promote.

  1. “The British are coming!”

Nope. Paul Revere never said this on his famous horse ride. It’s believed that what he did say was “The regulars are out.” “Regulars” was what the rebels called British soldiers.

  1. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

While the premise of this quote may be true, it’s not what the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century playwright, William Congreve, wrote. The real line from his 1697 play, The Mourning Bride, goes like this: “Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned.”

  1. “Houston, we have a problem.”

This is close. But Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell really said, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

  1. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Similarly, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong swore he said, “One small step for a man.” It’s just that people didn’t hear it on the transmission. Without it, the quote essentially says, “one small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind.”


Does this mean you can’t use these sayings any longer? Not necessarily. But it may be prudent to note they’re variations of the true quotations. Plus, knowing the difference will make you look smart.


I.e. vs. e.g.

This is a drawing of an animal, i.e., a unicorn.

This is a drawing of an animal, i.e., a unicorn.


Latin roots
The abbreviation i.e. comes from the Latin words id est, which mean that is.

The abbreviation e.g. comes from the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which means for the sake of example.

Mnemonic device
To remember what they mean, we’re going to say i.e. equals in other words because both start with the letter I and e.g. equals example because they both start with the letter E.

i.e. = in other words
e.g. = example

Using i.e.
We use i.e. to give more information about something, to clarify, and to explain it further.

Example: Liza has only one hobby, i.e., making taxidermy unicorns.

Here we say that Liza has only one hobby, and we clarify that her one hobby is making taxidermy unicorns. We could also say that Liza has only one hobby, in other words, making taxidermy unicorns.

Example: Liza’s favorite animal is the unicorn, i.e., the mythical pony beast with a horn growing from the top of its face.

Here we use i.e. to explain what a unicorn is. We could also say that Liza’s favorite animal is the unicorn, in other words, the mythical pony beast with a horn growing from the top of its face.

Note that the explanation that comes after i.e. can be the only explanation. A unicorn is a mythical horned pony beast. It’s not both a mythical horned pony beast and a mythical horned sea creature. That’s a narwhal. And a unicorn can’t be both a unicorn and a narwhal.

Using e.g.
We use e.g. to give examples of something.

Example: Pete saw many animals at the zoo, e.g., elephants, tigers, and unicorns.

Here we use e.g. to give examples of animals at the zoo. Pete saw elephants, tigers, and unicorns at the zoo, but those weren’t the only animals he saw. We could also say Pete saw many animals at the zoo (example: elephants, tigers, and unicorns).

Example: Unicorns eat a wide variety of candy, e.g., gumdrops.

Here again we use e.g. to give an example. Gumdrops are one example of what unicorns eat, but unicorns eat more than one type of candy; the sentence says they eat a wide variety of candy.

Note that unlike with i.e., more than one explanation can come after e.g. I could have inserted lollipops, licorice, and gummy bears along with gumdrops because unicorns eat a wide variety of candy, not just gumdrops. If they only ate gumdrops, I would use i.e. instead.

Insert either i.e. or e.g. in the spaces below. The answers are at the end.

1) The unicorn is skilled at hundreds of games, _______, poker, charades, and field hockey.
2) Unicorns are found in the wild in only one area, _______, the Philippines.
3) Unicorn meat is made into many dishes, _______, burgers and shish kebabs.
4) Sal the unicorn has a favorite trick, _______, blowing glitter from his horn.




Answers: 1) e.g. 2) i.e. 3) e.g. 4) i.e.

Imminent vs. eminent

imminent: ready to take place
eminent: standing out so as to be readily perceived or noted; conspicuous

Imminent usage
Imminent is an adjective that describes something (such as an event) that is going to happen soon. It can be negative or positive.

One cannot dismiss the imminent danger of climate change.
Al has only three pieces of the jigsaw puzzle left. Completion is imminent.

Eminent usage
Eminent is an adjective that describes something (such as a person) that is famous and popular (the best in a category). It is usually positive.

Heath is the eminent researcher in his field.
The new skyscraper has become the eminent symbol of the town.

Remember the difference
To tell imminent and eminent apart, think that imminent means immediate. (In actuality, the event imminent describes doesn’t have to happen right away, but simply soon. Still, it helps as a mnemonic.)

Test your imminent and eminent skills with a quiz. The answers are at the end.

  1. After winning the award, Dottie was known as the _______ chef in town.
  2. Daryl’s bad test score meant failing the class was _______.
  3. The thought of the _______ glee the cookies will bring made Kevin smile.
  4. The _______ product sold the most units.

Answers: 1. eminent 2. imminent 3. imminent 4. eminent