I am unsure about how to capitalize the title of my dissertation. In my case, I am wondering about "testing" and "empirical":

Four Essays on the empirical testing of the Efficiency Hypothesis

Should I capitalize gerunds?

  • 1
    Check the journal style guide, or see what the journal has done on other published papers.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 15, 2022 at 20:22
  • It's a PHD-thesis. Unfortunately, there is no style guide.
    – TobKel
    Dec 15, 2022 at 20:23
  • 9
    OK, look at the title pages of other theses in your department or in the library. Check with the thesis secretary.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 15, 2022 at 20:29
  • 1
    I found a similar scientific article with capitalised "Empirical testing".
    – TobKel
    Dec 15, 2022 at 20:31
  • 2
    Wait, but why have you capitalized "Essays"? Dec 15, 2022 at 20:32

4 Answers 4


The quickest solution (for me, at least), is to type in your title at https://capitalizemytitle.com. It gives correct title capitalization in many formal styles. And it has detailed information to explain the rules it follows.

Style guides vary, but generally, any word of any grammatical type that is four or five letters or longer is capitalized. (Different style guides differ on the four- or five-letter cut-off.)

For just about all style guides, "Testing" and "Empirical" are definitely capitalized.

  • 7
    It gives me "Four Essays on the Empirical Testing of the Efficiency Hypothesis"
    – TobKel
    Dec 15, 2022 at 21:20
  • 1
    @TobKel, I'd agree (from a traditional viewpoint) with that idea... Dec 15, 2022 at 22:14
  • 1
    @TobKel ... that is exactly right for "title case", which is common in the US. Perhaps not common everywhere, though.
    – GEdgar
    Dec 16, 2022 at 16:26
  • Could put the "Efficiency Hypothesis" in itallics for emphasis if it is the name of a particular well known hypothesis in the field? Dec 16, 2022 at 16:31
  • 1
    What an amazingly useful site. I am in awe of people that create these beautiful, single-purpose websites that do one thing and do them brilliantly. Thanks for sharing, I didn't know that it existed.
    – aldorath
    Feb 15 at 21:33

I think there are three plausible options.

Four Essays on the Empirical Testing of the Efficiency Hypothesis

This is title case: you capitalise almost all words. The only words not capitalised will be things like articles, conjunctions and short prepositions (and perhaps some other words where a lower case initial letter is significant, e.g. "E. coli"). Exact rules vary, but "on", "of" and "the" would be lower case in all major versions.

Four essays on the empirical testing of the efficiency hypothesis

This is (normal) sentence case. In some disciplines, the titles of articles are usually in sentence case, and IMO it makes sense to do the same for theses in those disciplines.

Four essays on the empirical testing of the Efficiency Hypothesis

This is still sentence case, but regarding Efficiency Hypothesis as a proper noun. If you capitalise it when it appears in the text of your thesis, obviously you should also capitalise it in the title.

In particular, capitalising "Essays" but not "empirical testing" would be inconsistent.


I'm not a language maven, but I'd think that both Empirical and Testing should be capitalized. They seem to be especially important words in the title - the essence of it, actually. The work is about empirical testing, after all.

Some might ask you to capitalize all words in a title, even articles.

In a thesis, your advisor should have good advice.

  • 2
    Maybe not "articles" or "prepositions"...? (unless they're part of the official name of something?) Dec 15, 2022 at 22:15

the Efficiency Hypothesis

I doubt that's a good choice of phrase for a PhD title, regardless of capitalization. "efficiency" comes up everywhere. This is super-vague. At least somethin like "Smith's Efficiency Hypothesis" or "The [process name] efficiency Hypothesis" if that's the process you want to make efficient. Remember, the PhD title will be read not just by people in your specific subfield, but by people with very diverse backgrounds.

  • This really isn't an answer to the question at all.
    – barbecue
    Dec 16, 2022 at 23:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .