Who invented Title Case?

Last week I saw the website of Designers & Books, a very nice initiative. But in the list of books I was very much distracted by the use of Title Case in the book titles.

Most text editing software nowadays has the possibility to change a sentence into Title Case (or lowercase, UPPERCASE, Sentence case and maybe even CamelCase). Personally I think the use of Title Case makes the book titles swollen-headed.

Where does this practice of Title Case come from? Is it an American custom? Who invented Title Case? And who can tell me the pros of using it?

DTY's picture

This topic is a bit lost here in Critique; it might have gotten more response if placed in General.

So far as I know, the use of "title case" for book titles has been normal in the English language since the eighteenth century. If I had to guess, I'd speculate that it derives from the earlier practice of using initial caps on words for Emphasis, and that by the over the course of the eighteenth century it was started to become normal to retain this custom for book titles and certain other kinds of uses (names, offices, etc.) but to use lowercase in most other circumstances (although that evolution continued during the nineteenth century).

There are some specialized situations where it is no longer the custom in English, especially library catalogues and certain bibliographic styles.

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