By far most of the research reports I read that have a subtitle start the subtitle with an uppercase letter (figure to the left below). Is there any reason why the subtitle should not start with an en dash and a lowercase letter (right figure below)?

Actual cover page (right) and alternative cover page (left)

3 Answers 3


There are multiple reasons why the example on the left is better than yours:

  1. First is the issue of capitalization. You're advocating to lowercase the U in Understanding which goes against Title Case.

  2. The next is that the en-dash holds a similar function grammatically to a comma. You would place this punctuation at the end of the top line, not the start of the bottom line.

  3. You're treating it as though the Title + Subtitle combine into one cohesive sentence. If that is the case they need to be a complete sentence including period at the end. You'd also need to make sure that all titles and subtitles can be treated in a similar way.

  • 1. True in this case. If Sentence case is used (as it mostly is in my language: danish) the lower case u is correct in my opinion. 2. I agree that the dash has similarities to a comma, but (in my language at least) it is often used to "add a comment" to something. The title is most important and shouldn't be polluted by a dash in the end. It can be read without reading the addition below. When you read the subtitle on the the other hand, the dash has a function: it shows that this sentence must be read in continuation of the title. 3. You should never use periods in titles in my opinion.
    – Wolff
    Apr 17, 2018 at 16:07
  • 1. I should have used Sentence case in my example. @Wolff: 2. Should it not be one cohesive sentence?
    – Solstrand
    Apr 17, 2018 at 20:30

There's no rule for this.

If you want to keep the dash, what i would do is use a negative indent so the second line tabs right under the first line of text. Then i would use the same indent for the authors below.

But there's different ways to play with this. You can take this further and also indent the main title and logo by the same amount, so the dash will stand out on the left.

enter image description here


Designers have no business being editors unless they have the training to accompany the responsibility. Editors have access to dictionaries, style guides -- AP, Chicago, etc. I'm sure Rand has a corporate style guide as well. Any of these could have an impact on the look of the cover, especially regarding dash usage. As it stands, whatever the outcome may be, not capping the "U" after the dash is just plain silly when all the other words have init caps.

  • Capitalising the u after the en dash would be even sillier. The dash implies a certain sentential cohesion which would make sentence case more likely than title case (as also noted by the asker in a comment to Ryan’s answer). Apr 23, 2018 at 21:21

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