Friday, September 27, 2013

Q: A hyphenated compound appears in a title (subtitle, table heading, or text heading) – do you capitalize both parts of the hyphenated combo?

A: Naturally, following AMA style, it depends, but the following examples illustrate instances in which both parts of the hyphenated combo are capitalized in titles:

RAI-Refractory Disease
Drug-Resistant Bacteria
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Cost-Benefit Analysis
B-Cell Lymphoma


Because (a) both elements of the hyphenated combo carry equal weight, and (b) the combos themselves are what AMA calls "temporary compounds" – that is, hyphenated when they appear together as a single adjective in front of the noun they modify but not hyphenated otherwise. Thus, a "B cell" is just that, a B cell, without a hyphen. But when "B cell" is used as an adjective to specify a type of lymphoma, then it's "B-cell lymphoma" in a sentence and "B-Cell Lymphoma" in a title.