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Typing song title & punctuation-national customs

Joe Offer 05 Jun 09 - 07:40 PM
Artful Codger 06 Jun 09 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,giles earle 06 Jun 09 - 04:07 AM
Newport Boy 06 Jun 09 - 05:55 AM
DMcG 06 Jun 09 - 05:55 AM
Newport Boy 06 Jun 09 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,giles earle 06 Jun 09 - 07:02 AM
JohnInKansas 06 Jun 09 - 10:08 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Jun 09 - 10:41 AM
meself 06 Jun 09 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Ed 06 Jun 09 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Ed 06 Jun 09 - 11:44 AM
Marje 06 Jun 09 - 12:22 PM
Newport Boy 06 Jun 09 - 12:46 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Jun 09 - 02:42 PM
Joe Offer 16 Jun 09 - 06:29 PM
Tootler 16 Jun 09 - 07:28 PM
Tootler 16 Jun 09 - 07:28 PM
bubblyrat 16 Jun 09 - 07:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Jun 09 - 10:35 PM
Nigel Parsons 17 Jun 09 - 01:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jun 09 - 03:35 PM
Artful Codger 17 Jun 09 - 09:03 PM
Joe Offer 17 Jun 09 - 09:10 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jun 09 - 09:31 PM
Artful Codger 18 Jun 09 - 12:32 AM
giles earle 18 Jun 09 - 02:00 AM
Artful Codger 18 Jun 09 - 04:59 AM
Folknacious 18 Jun 09 - 07:16 AM
Gedi 18 Jun 09 - 08:10 AM
Les from Hull 18 Jun 09 - 10:53 AM
Folknacious 18 Jun 09 - 11:13 AM
Bill D 18 Jun 09 - 11:32 AM
Folknacious 18 Jun 09 - 12:17 PM
giles earle 18 Jun 09 - 01:01 PM
PoppaGator 18 Jun 09 - 02:04 PM
Artful Codger 18 Jun 09 - 10:22 PM
Marje 19 Jun 09 - 10:37 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Jun 09 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Paula Plantier 03 Sep 10 - 02:45 PM
Jack Campin 03 Sep 10 - 06:33 PM
beeliner 04 Sep 10 - 01:00 AM
GUEST,Gerry 04 Sep 10 - 02:29 AM
Joe Offer 04 Sep 10 - 03:10 AM
Tootler 04 Sep 10 - 07:36 AM
beeliner 04 Sep 10 - 08:59 AM
beeliner 04 Sep 10 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,Gerry 04 Sep 10 - 07:27 PM
Joe Offer 04 Sep 10 - 08:22 PM
Jack Campin 04 Sep 10 - 09:09 PM
beeliner 05 Sep 10 - 01:38 AM
beeliner 06 Sep 10 - 09:43 AM
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Subject: Typing song title & punctuation
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 07:40 PM

I suppose this could be a non-music thread, but my question chiefly relates to the posting of lyrics. What are the customs in your country, with regards to capitalization of song titles, and the spacing of use of punctuation within lyrics?

In the U.S., most words of a title are capitalized, but not definite or indefinite articles (the, a, an) unless they are the first word of the title. There is rarely any punctuation in the title of a song, but I've noticed that several Irish people end a song title with a period and sometimes capitalize only the first letter of the first word of the song title.

Many people from countries other than the U.S., seem to like to put a space before most punctuation marks, especially commas, colons, and semicolons.

Some people capitalize the first word of every line of every song, some only if the line begins a sentence.

So, what are the correct conventions in your country?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Artful Codger
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 02:56 AM

US headline style: Quoting conventions within the US vary according to personal preference or corporate style. But the usual "headline style" rule is that the following should not be capitalized except at the beginning or end of a title:
* articles (a, an, the)
* prepositions (depending on length; the four-letter rule seems most common)
* coordinate conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor)
* "to" as part of an infinitive ("to be")

Beware of "prepositions" which actually function as other parts of speech, typically adverbs or adjectives: "Carry On the Fight"--here, "on" is an adverb, inseparable from the verb and taking no object; "Up the Down Staircase"--"up" serves as a preposition, but "down" serves as an adjective. Also note: "Lovely as the Dawn" (preposition), "Twice As Nice" (adverb), "Do As I Do" (subordinate conjunction), "Fools Such As We" (pronoun).

If the title contains an embedded quotation, the quote should be rendered in "sentence style", even if it represents a title.

Different organizations follow different conventions regarding compound prepositions, hyphenated words and the like. And there are a few other title gotchas in headline style, but they rarely occur in song titles: "The Ballad of E. coli", "Baby, Balance My pH"...

Other styles: With Internet illiteracy, there is an increasing tendency to use an initial capital on every word, or (gak!) to use all caps. But capitalization rules exists for reading clarity; these trends make text less readable and should be avoided.

With "sentence style" (initial cap, normal cap rules apply thereafter), you have none of the inconsistencies or quandaries inherent in headline style, and no special rules to remember--which is perhaps why most of Europe and South America follow it. It is also the most readable and least intrusive style.

Headline style and sentence style are sometimes used together to distinguish "descriptive" song titles ("The Barkeeper's Widget") from first lines or titles derived from first lines ("As I surfed the interwebs").

Non-English styles: In German, one capitalizes all nouns and some pronouns as well, whether in titles or in normal writing. In other words, German uses sentence style, appearances to the contrary.

When citing the title of foreign songs, one should attempt to conform to the conventions of that nation or language, but this rule is often broken, particularly in indices and listings. Translated titles follow the conventions of the new language. Transliterated titles follow the conventions of the source language--presuming their writing system supports capitalization; otherwise I advise using sentence style (you need only recognize proper names).

Spacing before punctuation: I've studied many languages, and from what I've seen, it is not common to include spaces immediately within quote marks or before punctuation at the end of a sentence or clause--at least in modern usage.

Quote characters are also locale-specific, so folks may want to mention the most prevalent set of quotes used in their country. Angle quotes are common in French and Russian, though double or single quotes are also used. Some languages use (or once used) opening quotes aligned with the baseline, and even reversed.

A different quoting convention (such as a long dash) may be used to denote speech.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: GUEST,giles earle
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 04:07 AM

I don't think it's a hard and fast rule, but when I was typesetting a reference book of song details, I was instructed by the editor:

(i) if the song title was actually the first line of the song (or the first part of the first line), then capitalise the first letter and leave it at that. Punctuation only where essential: from memory, there were a few question marks, but nothing else, e.g. no full stops at the end of the titles.

(ii) if the title was unconnected, capitalise the first letter, plus the important words (nouns, adjectives etc) but not the minor ones (articles, conjunctions etc). Again, punctuation only where essential.

This was in the UK, incidentally.

Definitely no spaces before commas, colons etc. I think I read somewhere that adding extra spaces was an old (and now also old-fashioned) convention of the printing press, adopted for ease of reading the printed word. I recall that Penguin books always used to use a space before colons and semicolons, though not before commas.

Within the body of the song, if the text is by a known author or taken a printed source, it's courteous and correct to follow the source material. For verses from oral tradition, the amount of puncuation is down to personal preference. I'm old enough to capitalise the first letter of each line of verse out of habit, for example, but otherwise I prefer to keep punctuation to the minimum necessary for clarity. The lines of verse give a natural break anyway, reducing the need for commas in particular, whilst, to my mind, using a lot of punctuation makes for fussy breaks in the flow of the text.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Newport Boy
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 05:55 AM

I'd go along with almost everything in the first 2 posts. I often use all caps for titles, as do a lot of printed texts. Most of my song books (UK & US) capitalise the first letter of each line and I've always followed this practice.

I do use some punctuation - mainly full stops within verses, but sometimes commas, particularly when there are lists. When copying from a printed text, I always follow the source, even when I think it's wrong. If it's very wrong, I add a note to pass on the blame.

I find spaces before punctuation so distracting that I sometimes give up reading.

You'll see from this post that I was educated at a time when correct use of commas was standard, and I can't break myself of the habit.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: DMcG
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 05:55 AM

While working on folkinfo I discovered a convention on quotation marks within lyrics that was new to me. If a verse ends with one person speaking who is still speaking in the next verse, then there is an opening quotation in the first verse, no closing quotation mark on the first verse, and another opening quotation mark on the next verse. If, however, there is a change of speaker between verse, the first verse has a closing quotation mark.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Newport Boy
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 05:56 AM

Damn - I meant to write "everything in the first 2 responses".

And my style book says I shoul have typed "two" not "2".

Phil


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: GUEST,giles earle
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 07:02 AM

Re DMcG's point: that's standard for prose as well, I believe, as the convention followed when one speaker's words run on to the next paragraph.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 10:08 AM

In printed work, it is possible to use initial caps and all caps clearly at the same time, since most fonts can be formatted in "small caps;" but I don't find a simple way to display the effect in html.

This method appears to be fairly commonly used for titles in sheet music, but is technically not really "all caps" even though "upper case forms" are used for all the characters - upper case and lower case.

John


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 10:41 AM

I can't really see any differences betwen US and UK conventions. I'm in the Uk and go along with everything that has been said. The only thing I can add is a plea if reprinting mss or older print forms such as broadside ballads, please copy exactly any capitalisation, punctuation or spelling, with (sic) added or explanations in footnotes where necessary. I try to do this wherever possible. Unfortunately 19thc editors like Ebsworth and Chappell often changed the originals to contemporary conventions. Fortunately collections like Euing and Pepys (and the Bodl.)are now available in facsimile.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: meself
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 11:30 AM

Apparently, the conventions or requirements of graphic design may conflict with those of writing/typesetting. A fellow doing the label on a demo CD for me recently insisted that the principles of graphic design necessitated his capitalizing all the initial letters of the song titles.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national custo
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 11:41 AM

Steve Gardham says: I'm in the Uk

The UK surely?

Agree with most of the above but can we get Apostrophes right, please?

No more CD's please, it's CDs

Ed


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national custo
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 11:44 AM

Ha! Serves me right...

Here was I complaining and I bugger up myself. A lesson methinks.

Steve Gardham says: I'm in the Uk

The UK surely?

Agree with most of the above but can we get Apostrophes right, please?

No more CD's please, it's CDs

Ed


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Marje
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 12:22 PM

It's one of the unwritten rules of pedantry that if you try to point out someone else's error, you'll probably commit a worse blunder yourself in your correction.

It isn't either right or wrong to use initial capitals in song titles, it's a matter of taste and typographic "style". The US tends, oddly enough, to continue some typographical habits that are being abandoned in the UK (Joe's use of full points for "U.S.", above, being another example, and these days it's more of a US preference to use initial capitals. But it's still quite common in the UK to use them, and it's convenient in writing such as we see on this forum, where the caps can be used to identify the song title in running text without having to use quotes. Consider:
The Tinkerman's Daughter is one of my favourites.
The tinkerman's daughter is one of my favourites.
"The tinkerman's daughter" is one of my favourites.

Of those three, the middle one could be ambiguously interpreted, whereas the other two are clear. I think I'd usually go for the initial caps.

Putting in a space before a puncutation mark is just plain wrong, in either country. It happens by accident more than it used to because of cutting/pasting/changing text on screen.

It's normally considered correct (certainly in the UK) to capitalise the start of each line of a song. I was taught at school that there should also be a comma at the end of each line, but I think that habit has long been abandoned. The same probably applies to the use of the full point at the end of a title, and also to the underlining of titles and headings (that's just *so* 20th century!).

The general trend nowadays is towards minimal punctuation. I think this is largely due to the use of computers and electronic typesetting, which can more easily use spacing, fonts, bold type, italics and other tricks to give the desired effect.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Newport Boy
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 12:46 PM

I like the trend towards minimal punctuation. I think the UK Civil Service abandoned punctuation in titles, addresses, abbreviations, etc about 40 years ago.

I go further - I don't even use Titles (Mr, Ms, Sir, Lord, etc).

Saw a nice tag line recently

-- The apostrophe doesn't form a plural - yet!

Phil


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 02:42 PM

Form used by El Colegio de México for bibliographic references. Examples:

Calleja 1951: JULIÁAN CALLEJA, Método de guitarra sin maestro, México, 1951.

Campos 1929: RUBÉN M. CAMPOS, El folklore literario de México. Investiación acerca de la producción literaria popular (1525-1925), México, Secretaria de Educatión Pública, 1929.

Boas 1912: FRANZ BOAS, "Notes on Mexican folklore", JAF, 25 (1912), pp. 204-260.

Mendoza 1943: VICENTE T. MENDOZA, "La copla musical en México", ASFM, 2 (1943), pp. 115-125.

Song Titles:
Listing in an index
5. Ahora acabo de llegar

Heading with lyrics:
5. AHORA ACABO DE LLEGAR

Typical stanza of AHORA ...
En la medianía del mar
le dijo Cupido a Venus:
"De un rayo te escaparás,
pero de mí lo veremos."
(The initial letter of the word at the start of a sentence is capitalized, the word that continues the sentence in succeeding lines is not.)

The chorus, if present, is italicized.
Chorus of AHORA ...
Silencio, corazón,
deja de llorar.
Este corazón me duele (negra del alma)
de tanto amar.


I have used the conventions in "Cancionero folklórico de México" because they are the conventions is several other Mexican publications that I have.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 06:29 PM

Gee, I didn't know until today that full stop is the proper UK term for what we in the US call a period.

So, what about the use of a full stop/period at the end of the title of a song? I see that done quite frequently, particularly in songs from Ireland and the UK, and in older texts. If the song title ends with a period, the song title is usually typed in sentence case, not in title case.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 07:28 PM

I use the "Capitalise important words" convention in titles. My wife who tends to adhere to older conventions doesn't like it and usually tries to persuade me to change it to Capital only on the first word of the title. OTOH she is an excellent proof reader and tends to pick up on my little foibles like scattering capital letters all over the place where they are not appropriate.

I was taught at school that in poetry the first word of every line should start with a capital letter, (after all, what is a song but a poem with a tune) so that is what I do.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 07:28 PM

I,m in the UK, by the way


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: bubblyrat
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 07:43 PM

The problem with the American use of the word "Period" is that, in the UK,a "Period" is a woman's monthly menstrual cycle,hence our preference for "Full Stop " ! Also,when I was at school,we didn't have "Speech Marks" or "Quote Marks", we had only "Inverted Commas".
    We were also taught to use the apostrophe in ways often not seen today, for example in 'phone ( telephone), 'plane (aeroplane),'bus (omnibus) and 'drawing room ( withdrawing room).I do it all the time,because I am an AWKWARD CUSS !!(And I can).


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 10:35 PM

Proof-readers once wrote "full stop" to call attention to the spot where a period was required. I remember this from the time my grandfather was an editor of a newspaper.
The current practice seems to be the '.' with a circle around it.

In Whall, Sea Songs and Shanties, 1910, there is a period following the song title. The titles are lower case, initial letters in caps. In an Appendix, periods follow all listings, and the heading Appendix is followed by a full stop as well.
Full stops also appear in "Songs of Charles Dibdin," 1875, after titles and chapter headings. Titles of songs are upper case.

The Routledge ... London 1961 printing of Hugill's "Shanties..." omits the periods or full stops.

The Oxford Press ("The Book of Carols" 1928) does not use full stops after titles and headings. It was not used by them for "Sea Songs and Ballads," 1906.
In other words, at least after 1900, the full stops were a matter of style, not used by some of the larger publishers. Methuen (London)did not use them in "Sea Songs and Ballads," 1922, nor Hodder & Stoughton in "Rhymes of the Red Ensign," 1919.

The practice seems to have become obsolete.

French
Hayet, 1971, "Dictons, Tirades et Chansons des Anciens de la Voile,", Denoel, Paris- Song titles in lower case, Initial letter of first word and proper nouns in caps. No period following titles. No period following chapter headings.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 01:20 PM

Guest:Ed
Steve Gardham says: I'm in the Uk
Surely "I'm in the UK" should be in inverted commas (Quote marks)!

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 03:35 PM

I can't teach my computer to do inverted commas- have to make do with "".

Who was Steve quoting? Or are you quoting Guest Ed?


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Artful Codger
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 09:03 PM

Nigel: Internet custom is not to explicitly quote after a colon; if Ed had used a comma, you'd have more of a point, instead of a snip. But back to the topic...

bubblyrat: In modern usage the apostrophe of omission is largely omitted in both the US and the UK once the elided form has become a common word in its own right (such as for all the examples you used.) To retain the apostrophe comes across as fussy, antiquated or snooty.

And thankfully, in the US at least, the joke that women have "periods" went stale about 30 seconds after some pre-adolescent wit pointed it out. We must be made of sterner stuff.

Joe: The Brits also call a question mark a "query".

Q: There are several "simple" ways to make your computer do inverted commas: keyboard layouts, raw Unicode input (like the Alt-X feature on PCs), using "smart quotes" in word processors, programming keystroke macros... In Mudcat postings, you need to enter HTML escape equivalents (like ‘ and ’).


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 09:10 PM

Adn squo means "squiggly quote"?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jun 09 - 09:31 PM

&lsquo and &rsquo I thought were something out of that odd language Haruo speaks. Didn't Shakespeare have a Banquo in one of his plays?

"Programming keystroke macros"- sounds sadistic, something a dominatrix would do.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Artful Codger
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 12:32 AM

Joe: Not "squiggly", just "single". For the corresponding double quotes, use "“" and "”". If you paste word processor text into Mudcat messages without replacing the single and double quotes with HTML escapes, they'll get blitzed on submittal, because they're not the ASCII apostrophe and straight double quote characters.

There are also single and double angle quotes, and single and double bottom-aligned quotes, all in left and right variants. HTML has named escapes for all these quote characters.


Q: Programming keystroke macros is a cinch, unless you're older than 10.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: giles earle
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 02:00 AM

Times must have changed here in England, since I was at school: what Artful Codger calls a 'query' in the first of his posts is what I would (still) term a question mark.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Artful Codger
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 04:59 AM

Nice to know, giles, but I do run into "query" or "query mark" in British texts. Perhaps it's more a matter of formality, akin to "virgule" versus "slash" (though "virgule" in French means "comma").


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national custo
From: Folknacious
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 07:16 AM

Here's pertinent stuff from the writer guidelines of the (UK) music magazine Froots

1. Do not put inverted commas around song or album titles. They will be italicised.

2. All words in song titles and band names should be initially capitalised: e.g. The Flight Of The Bumblebee, not The Flight of the Bumblebee; Show Of Hands, not Show of Hands.

4. Do not double space after stops.

6. Don't fully capitalise any words in text for emphasis. They will be italicised. No need to SHOUT!

9. There are many alternatives, but we spell it "accordeon" if for no other reason than it irritates the shit out of accordion/accordian anoraks.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Gedi
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 08:10 AM

What a fascinating discussion this is.

As a printer I've always known the full stop/period to be referred to as a 'full point', although not sure why this should be (printers have lots of strange terminology).   Not aware of any other guidelines re song headings but then I'm neither a typesetter or proof reader.

Personally I've always followed the "capitalise the first letter of each line" rule, but I dropped the comma at the end of the line years ago.

Folknacious, I love point 9 in your post above. That's what I call a good reason to spell something a certain way.

Cheers
Ged (in the UK)


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Les from Hull
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 10:53 AM

I hate initial capitals in song titles. I prefer only to capitalise those words that would normally have capital letters, otherwise you then have to decide which of the smaller words (of, a, the, in, and so on) has a capital letter. But I do put a question mark after the title if the title is a question (for example, How long has that evening train been gone?). The initial capital awarded to 'how' signifies where the song title begins. I retain an exclamation mark if the original author(s) used one (for example, the Beatles Help!).

I'm not tying to convert others to my methods. It's just for my own satisfaction. But it stops me cringing when I look at my iTunes list.

The key is, have some rules that cover all cases, make sure people know what they are, and stick to them.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national custo
From: Folknacious
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 11:13 AM

I hate initial capitals in song titles. I prefer only to capitalise those words that would normally have capital letters, otherwise you then have to decide which of the smaller words (of, a, the, in, and so on) has a capital letter.

That's why having all the words with capitals will be good then. If there are no italics and you see a review saying: Martin Carthy recorded the Devil and the Feathery Wife, how do you know if that's one song or two? If it says The Devil And The Feathery Wife it's quite clear where the title begins and ends, even without italics or ugly quotation marks. Or if you are seeing Spiers and Boden advertised, does that indicate whether it's two bands, two soloists or a duo? Assuming you don't know already. In Itunes with song titles they aren't included in the middle of sentences (or they aren't in mine anyway!). Yes to question marks too; that's just piss-poor grammar/ punctuation if you leave one off a question title.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 11:32 AM

"If there are no italics and you see a review saying: Martin Carthy recorded the Devil and the Feathery Wife, how do you know if that's one song or two?"

If there were two songs involved, and no italics were possible, I would make it clear:

Martin Carthy recorded "The Devil" and "The Feathery Wife".

The whole point is to be sure everyone can tell what you mean, it is not (or should not be) to defend some particular local view of punctuation standards.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national custo
From: Folknacious
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 12:17 PM

As a typography anorak, I hate excessive use of inverted commas. Ugly things. But I accept that's a personal problem! Italics are definitely the better solution. Capitalising is the simple and far-from-uncommon alternative solution. As you say, the important thing is clarity but why not combine it with aesthetics?


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: giles earle
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 01:01 PM

There's also an alternative, when referring to a musical work within a sentence of prose, of giving the name in italics. By way of example, the following is taken from a publication I typeset recently:

"...the Folk-Song Preludes, the Serenade and An Old Song. Warlock seems to be playing a part for which he is not suited. And yet, Capriol is to my mind a masterpiece of invention; when I was nine or so, I thought that the last page of Mattachins was harmonically the most 'modern' thing ever written."

This has the advantage of making it clear whether the title actually starts with a 'The' or 'A'/'An'.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 02:04 PM

I don't know much about the conventions of one nation/culture vs another, but I do know a great deal about typography.

Most of our rules and practices evolved back in the dark ages, when the available technologies for rendering language in visible form were pretty much limited to handwriting, typewriting, and typesetting. Only in type-for-print did one have options to italicize and/or make boldface, and to change size or typeface.

Now that everyone with a computer/word-processor can duplicate (or at least approximate) full-fledged typography, many of these traditions are being forgotten, which has created a bit of confusion in certain situations. Examples:

Copy to be set in italics was/is rendered in typewritten (or even handwritten) form by underlining. In other words, underscore = italics, which in turn means that no word or phrase should be both underscored and italicized; according to long-established tradition, that would be redundant.

Typists, for generations, have been trained to insert two wordspaces after each sentence-ending period. Because typewriters have always produced monospaced output, there is some logic to this convention, since it helps make the end of each sentence more clearly visible. When rendering text into typeset form for printing, that double-word-space is a definite no-no. When typographic technology first began using the QWERTY keyboard for electronic input in the 1970s, and experienced typists were being hired and trained to set type, this was a VERY difficult habit to break. (Also, when later technology allowed word-processing files to be captured electronically and converted for use in typesetting, algorithms were normally included to search out [period-space-space] and replace each instance with [period-space].

Back to the original basic questions:

I lean towards the practice of capitalizing all "important" words in titles (which, I realize, leaves a bit of wiggle-room for interpretation regarding which words to capitalize). And of course, the first word is always one of the "important" words.

No punctuation at the end of a title except, when appropriate, a question mark.

In lyrics rendered line-by-line, I observe the same practices appropriate for non-musical poetry:
~ Capitalize first word of each line (and nothing else except proper nouns);
~ Punctuation at the end of a line ONLY in cases where a given mark (comma, etc.) would be used in prose or any other context.

One interesting practice occasionally used when typesetting poems/lyrics is to indent alternate lines. I do not know of any "rules" governing this practice ~ can anyone enlighten me?

When "typesetting" (word-processing) song-lyric "cheat-sheets" for myself, I'll do whatever it takes to fill a single letter-size page using the largest possible point size. For song lyrics with short lines, rendering line-for-line will result in too many short lines, necessitating use of a small typesize and resulting in a page with a narrow column of type down the left-hand side with a large expanse of blank white space to the right. It is usually much more practical to combine two or more lines on a single typeset line, separated by virgules:

short first line / short second line
short third line / short fourth line

When the lines are long, and/or when short lines are combined to make single tyeset lines as above, the alternate-line indent method can make it easier to find the correct next line when the eye jumps for the right-hand end of one line to the left-hand-end beginning of the next:

short first line / short second line
    short third line / short fourth line
short fifth line / short sixth line
    short 7th line / short 8th line


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Artful Codger
Date: 18 Jun 09 - 10:22 PM

Froots clearly has selected different usage rules than most other organizations. For musical work titles, the most prevalent convention I've seen (in style books and elsewhere) is to enclose a song title in quotes, but to place the name of any larger work (like an album) in italics. On the Internet, it's a very good idea to use quotes instead of italics because, when formatted text is pasted into plain-text files (a frequent practice still for users), quotes are retained, whereas italics are lost.

Read my first post for why initial caps on every word is a bad, or at least inferior, choice.


I usually see indentation used when pairs of lines generally form a single thought and any musical pause between the lines is minor. Of course, when verses follow the same pattern, the writer or typesetter generally picks the most common pattern and sticks with that. Other writers apparently use it just to make lines easier to count. Sometimes it's used to indicate a sort of refrain or chorus section or a folderol line (often italicized as well).

I lament the demise of the double space (or simply larger space) at the end of a sentence, because it makes text more readable. In many typefaces used for "graphic design", it's often difficult to distinguish periods from commas, leading to confusion. I continue to type double spaces; "progress" too often is backwards.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Marje
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 10:37 AM

Poppagator: what appears to be indentation in alternate lines of a poem may actually be centring. My copy of Hart's Rules says that poetry should be centred on the longest line on each page - so if the second and fourth lines are shorter (as they often are), they'll appear to be indented.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:48 PM

In publishing, the rules are usually set by the publication or publisher (if large enough to have a staff including style-proofreader personnel).

Some publishers have a style manual for guidance to writers and staff, e. g., Government of Canada, American Psychological Assn., Univ. Chicago, etc., etc. The NY Times has a set of rules, and several publishers have issued style manuals.
In the United States, "The Chicago Manual of Style" is recommended by many universities; it is in the 16th edition or thereabouts.

The submission should be clear and orderly, sticking to one format, easing the task of the publisher's staff.

Marje, I have poetry publications following both systems of centering; again, being consistent in submissions will help the publisher and ease conversion to his format.

PoppaGator, years ago I wrote papers involving a lot of scientific names for organisms; by nomenclatural rules, the names must be italicized, first letter of genus in caps, initial letter of species and subspecies lower case. Moreover, some scientific periodicals required all Latin words also be italicized. With the typewriter, and the later 'word processor', that involved a lot of underscoring and a hell of a lot of proofing. The computer has greatly simplified the task.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: GUEST,Paula Plantier
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 02:45 PM

Song title capping convention in English is to uppercase every word in the song title. Check out any songbook, music book, or piece of sheet music to see examples. Case closed.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 06:33 PM

Taking a random selection of stuff within arm's reach:

The Rough Guides do it Paula's way.

Eric Blom's "Everyman's Dictionary of Music", the New Grove "Modern Masters: Bartok, Stravinsky, Hindemith" and Dave Harker's "One for the Money" only capitalize the important words (the way I'd do it). All published in the UK.

Case closed.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: beeliner
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 01:00 AM

Gee, I didn't know until today that full stop is the proper UK term for what we in the US call a period.

In England, there is a little rebus sometimes found over fireplaces:

If the B mt put :
If the B . putting :

Translation: "If the grate be empty, put coal on. If the grate be full stop putting coal on."

In Germany rules for titles are somewhat different. Only nouns are capitalized, because nouns are always capitalized in German. Other inportant words in the title which are not nouns are not capitalized because if they were they would look like nouns, which would be confusing. So, "Bei mir bist du schoen" not "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen".


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 02:29 AM

beeliner, I think you'll find that "mir" and "du" are nouns. Moreover, the original's Yiddish, not German, so purists write it more like Bai mir bistu sheyn.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 03:10 AM

I don't want to look like a pedant, so I was trying to resist saying something, but I can't. I just can't. The German words "mir" and "du" are pronouns (both in German and in Yiddish).

Ahhhhh.

Feels better.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Tootler
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 07:36 AM

Song title capping convention in English is to uppercase every word in the song title. Check out any songbook, music book, or piece of sheet music to see examples. Case closed.

In support of Jack Campin, Paula, you're wrong.

I checked a selection of song and tune books on my bookshelf and found examples of all three conventions.

It is clear that conventions for titles are down to the publisher and no one convention is universal.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: beeliner
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 08:59 AM

Guest Gerry is wrong about du and mir being nouns but is correct that Yiddish, when written in Roman characters, does not capitalize nouns; still, if the title of Sammy Cahn's ditty were written in German it would be as I stated, but that is just a random example, all titles - songs, movies, books - are so written, with only the first letter of the title and of nouns within the title capitalized.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: beeliner
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 09:17 AM

P.S. Guest Gerry may have been referring to the fact that Du, Mir, and other second-person pronouns were previously capitalized in PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE, but that was eliminated by the recent neue Rechtschreibung (new writing rules), though no doubt still used by some, particularly us old folks.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 07:27 PM

I know that "he" and "she" and suchlike are pronouns - I just thought pronouns counted as nouns, much as green apples count as apples. So much for my fading memories of school English grammar lessons.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 08:22 PM

Beeliner, are you THAT old? I think I remember seeing capitalized German "familiar" second-person pronouns from letters from back in the 1940s, but German pronouns were all lower-case when I learned German in the 1960s, except for second-person "formal address" (Sie, Ihr, Ihnen, and the like). I think most of the "new" Rechtschreibung rules were in common usage long before they became official.
I don't know that there are any hard-and-fast rules for Yiddish when transliterated to Roman characters. Sometimes titles of Yiddish songs are Title Case, but most times I see titles in ALLCAPS in Yiddish songbooks, and occasionally in Sentence case (only first work and proper nouns capitalized). There are different systems for transliteration, too - Germans transliterate Yiddish quite differently from the way Americans do it, and Israeli-published Yiddish songbooks are different from both.

-Joe-


Interesting article at http://german.about.com/od/grammar/a/Siedu.htm


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 09:09 PM

I just looked through a bunch of Turkish songbooks. You'd expect that to be different from Engish since it has very few grammatical glue words - you get suffixes instead. What happens in the titles is that almost every word gets an initial capital except for those few particles - "mu" (postfixed to a term you're asking a question about, like a spoken question mark), "de" ("too"), "ki" ("which..."/"that..."). "Ile" (with, but postfixed) can be capitalized or not.

Hungarian: no song has a title in the books I have handy, the first line is always used to identify them. It gets the same capitalization as ordinary text, i.e. the first word and the proper names are capitalized, nothing else.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: beeliner
Date: 05 Sep 10 - 01:38 AM

Beeliner, are you THAT old?

Yes. The big 7-0 is only a few weeks off.

I think I remember seeing capitalized German "familiar" second-person pronouns from letters from back in the 1940s, but German pronouns were all lower-case when I learned German in the 1960s, except for second-person "formal address" (Sie, Ihr, Ihnen, and the like). I think most of the "new" Rechtschreibung rules were in common usage long before they became official.

Well, I'm referring to the new, new rules which only became official a couple of years ago, after a transitional period of several years. Until then, capitalizing familiar 2nd-person pronouns in personal letters, especially if hand-written, was considered polite if not strictly required, and I gotta admit, I still do so, old habits dying hard as the song says.

Another rule that has changed regards three of the same consonant in a row. Previously this was permitted only if another consonant follwed, such as MASS+STAB = MASSSTAB, the scale of a map. But if a vowel followed, one of the three was dropped, e.g. BETT+TUCH = BETTUCH, bedsheet, EXCEPT if the word was hyphenated at the end of a line, in which case the third consosnant was restored. Now the three consonants together are permitted, or rather required, in all such cases.


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Subject: RE: Typing song title & punctuation-national customs
From: beeliner
Date: 06 Sep 10 - 09:43 AM

Song title capping convention in English is to uppercase every word in the song title. Check out any songbook, music book, or piece of sheet music to see examples. Case closed.

I will re-open the case just briefly. Before me I have the sheet music for "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" (Howard-Hough-Adams), from the film of the same name. There is a sidebar listing other songs from the same film as "Be Sweet to Me Kid" and "What's the Use of Dreaming", both written thusly.

So the 'every word capitalized' seems to be a convention of the sheet music publishing industry and not the general rule for song titles, which is the same as for other titles.

In this box there are about 100 pieces of sheet music. I did a very rough approximation and it looks as if about 45%, give or take, of the titles are in caps and l.c. with EVERY word capitalized, 50% are in ALL CAPS, and the remaining 5% or so are 'mavericks'; for example, here is Hazel Scott's piano solo arrangement of 'boogie-woogie', written thus (all lower case). "Candy" (David-Whitney-Kramer) has the title formed from pieces of candy canes.

Some of these songs give new meaning to the term 'oblivion'. Anybody remember "I SAID MY PAJAMAS (And Put On My Pray'rs)" (Pola-Wyle)? How about "A STORY OF TWO CIGARETTES" (Stoner-Jay-Marker)?

Irving Berlin wrote some of the most famous songs in American history. He also wrote tons and tons of absolute crap. Who remembers "YIDDLE ON YOUR FIDDLE"? (That sounds almost obscene!) How about "NEXT TO YOUR MOTHER WHO DO YOU LOVE?"? Anybody remember "KEEP AWAY FROM THE FELLOW WHO OWNS AN AUTOMOBILE", "PULLMAN PORTERS ON PARADE", "HE'S A RAG PICKER", or "COHEN OWES ME $97"?


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