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I need some help on the topic of title case following the Economist Style Guide. Does the possessive pronoun "its" get a capital in Economist style title case or not. There was a recent headline "Israel Protects Its Offshore Gas Fields" and the discussion was whether "its" should be lower case because it's short and not a principal word, or with a capital because it's a possessive pronoun. Any insights?

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What does the Economist Style Guide say about title case? –  martin f Jan 17 at 6:44
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I don't know about the Economist, but my rule of thumb is that if you can delete a word and still have a valid title, you don't capitalize it: "Israel Protects Offshore Gas Fields" is perfectly comprehensible and would be used if there was not enough space. –  what Jan 17 at 12:37
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I love these little problems only the English language can have. –  John Smithers Jan 17 at 15:34
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If "Economist Style Guide" refers to www.economist.com, then "its" is not the only word they would write lower case. –  John Smithers Jan 17 at 15:52

2 Answers 2

No.

I took a look at the Economist style guide capitals section here and found no mention of "its."

A search of the Economist website turned up articles with the following titles (bold for emphasis):

Multinationals: China loses its allure

Kenya and its Somalis: Go back home!

Turkey and its neighbours: A reset?

So although the style guide doesn't specifically address the possessive pronoun "its," they consistently leave it lower-case.

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As far as I can tell, no. Use normal sentence case, where you capitalize the first word of a headline only. The exceptions are proper nouns, or other capitalized words listed in the style guide's section on capitals.

The guide doesn't address words like "its"; The Economist has little patience with this sort of minutiae. However, as has been pointed out in this answer, The Economist uses sentence case for their headlines and taglines. Reading some recent examples, I found the following:

Demonstrations in Hong Kong
Poles apart
Hong Kong seems doomed to months of ugly confrontation over its political future

LinkedIn
Workers of the world, log in
The social network has already shaken up the way professionals are hired. Its ambitions go far beyond that

It's worth reading the following:

From The Economist Style Guide, Tenth Edition:

capitals A balance has to be struck between so many capitals that the eyes dance and so few that the reader is diverted more by our style than by our substance. The general rule is to dignify with capital letters organisations and institutions, but not people; and full names, but not informal ones. More exact rules are laid out below. Even these, however, leave some decisions to individual judgement. If in doubt use lower case unless it looks absurd. And remember that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

(p.24)

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