The College of Arts and Architecture

CRAM Guide - Concert and Recital Assistance Manager

Printer-friendly version


The purpose of the CRAM guide is to help music students and professionals put together their concert programs, resumes, bios, and general publicity with attention to the details of capitalization, italics, titles, movement names, and other aspects of formatting and grammar.

Included are some rules and conventions for general formatting of printed materials relating to music programs, program notes, and translations.


Following a period, semicolon, or colon, type one space only, not two. This is standard practice in professional typesetting and for word processing programs. The old days of using a typewriter and leaving two spaces following a period are gone for good.

Do not use the space bar to indent for a new paragraph. Paragraphs look better not indented at all; but if you must indent, use the tab key, or set the margins so this is automatic.

Quotation marks—single or double—go after (outside) a period or comma, but before a semicolon. (This convention does not apply to other languages or in some instances of non-American English.) Stated another way, commas and periods go inside quotation marks; the semicolon goes outside quotation marks.

When necessary, be sure to distinguish between an em-dash (—) an en-dash (–) and a hyphen(-). The en-dash is commonly used to indicate a closed range of values, such as those between dates, times, numbers, or years. For example, if the birth and death dates of composers are given, they should be separated with an en-dash. Example: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

For a complete guide to the use of dashes and hyphens, refer to online sources such as this wikipedia article or this article found in


Do not underline anything! Underlining was used back in the typewriter days to indicate to a typesetter that something should be put into italics. Now we can put things into italics ourselves, so there is no need to underline.

What gets put into italics? The name of a major work (an opera for example) that you might be singing an aria from or listing in a professional credit; a foreign word or phrase (but not if it's part of a title or the title of a movement); or something you want to emphasize in your text.

Several examples are given below that should help to answer many questions. Within a paragraph, ALL CAPS is similarly unacceptable.


Ellipses are often used in listing a recitative and aria on a vocal recital, with the ellipses separating the recitative title from the aria title. This can be especially helpful for listing both parts of the piece, but giving a strong hint that they should be performed without interruption.

For the ellipses (...) use the character OPTION-SEMICOLON (ALT-SEMICOLON for Windows), not three periods (...), and not three periods with spaces between them (. . . ). Use a single space before, and a single space after, ellipses.


Follow this general rule for upper case vs. lower case: Use upper case only if there is a good reason for it (proper name, country, city, planet, company, name of a magazine); otherwise use lower case.

Instrument names, vocal categories, and job descriptions are not capitalized; official titles are capitalized. Examples:

  • Arturo Martín, tenor
  • Denis Brain, horn
  • Joan Sutherland, soprano
  • Martín Guzman, Director of Public Relations
  • Sang Mok Lee, recording engineer
  • Dan Martin, Dean, College of Fine Arts
  • Manfred Honeck, Music Director
  • Leonard Bernstein, conductor


The rules for upper case versus lower case for titles and texts of musical works depend on the language the titles are written in and, by extension, what country the program is being prepared for.

The rules for English differ from those of German, French, Spanish, and Italian. The rules for each language are given separately below.


The first word of a title or movement name is always capitalized (upper case). The first letter of each following word in the title is also capitalized, with the exception of prepositions and articles, which are lower case.

Key names: do not use the symbols '#' for sharp or 'b' for flat; write out 'sharp' and 'flat,' using a hyphen for the key name (see examples below).

Use italics for the larger work when the piece is an excerpt from a larger work.

If the music or the score gives the title in a foreign language, use English if there is a common English equivalent. However, don't translate words or titles that are well-known in the original language. See examples below.

Song titles are given in the language they are sung in. Translate the titles in the 'translation' section, not in the program proper.

The words Major and Minor are part of the title of the piece, and both should be capitalized; flat and sharp are not capitalized (in most cases, generally, the word following a hyphen is not capitalized.)

Works by many composers should include ‘opus’ numbers. Works by Bach are always identified by a BWV number; works by Mozart are identified by a Köchel (K.) number; works by Schubert are identified by a Deutsch catalog number (D.) Examples:

  • Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 12
  • Trio in D Major, Op. 10, No. 2
  • Quartet in F-sharp Minor, Op. 13
  • Steal Me, Sweet Thief, from The Old Maid and the Thief
  • Selections from Art of the Fugue
  • ... with darkness 'round about them ... [the composer specified the lower-case letters]
  • Sonata in D Minor for Violin and Piano [not Sonata en d-moll]
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano [not Sonate pour violin et pianoforte]
  • Well-Tempered Clavier (an apparent exception to the hyphen-rule)

If you are performing in another country, use the language of that country for your titles, and the rules of upper-case/lower-case of the language of that country.

In general, it is only in English that each word in a title is capitalized.


In German, all nouns are capitalized no matter where they appear in a sentence or title. Therefore, for German titles, the first word and all nouns (and proper names) are capitalized; all other words are lower case.


French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin titles all follow the same rules. Only the first word (and proper names) are capitalized. All other words in the title or the movement name are lower case. The rule also applies to titles of operas. As an additional guide for song titles, note that the title for the majority of non-English songs comes from the first line of text, so the title should reflect the grammar and capitalization of that line of text. If you are unsure, just copy the first line of text as it appears in your music. Examples:

  • Breit über mein Haupt
  • Die Forelle
  • Du bist die Ruh
  • Una voce poco fa (Il barbiere di Siviglia)
  • Regnava nel silenzio (Lucia di Lammermoor)
  • Se vuol ballare (Le nozze di Figaro)
  • Vaga luna, che inargento
  • De aquel majo amante
  • The Greatest Man
  • Tom Sails Away
  • Anzoleta co passa la regata

Here is the way to list an aria:

  • "Pace, pace mio Dio," from La forza del destino                     Giuseppe Verdi

Here is a good way to list a recitative and aria if you are doing both, and don't want them interrupted by applause (the first is preferred):

  • È Susanna non vien ... Dove sono, i bei momenti

                Recitative and aria from Le nozze di Figaro

  • Recitative and aria from Le nozze di Figaro

               È Susanna non vien ... Dove sono i bei momenti

Don't be afraid to 'make up' a title if you want to sing a group of songs by the same or by different composers, especially if you want to sing them without interruption. Here are some examples:

Four Songs                                                                               Franz Schubert

  • Im Abendrot
  • Die Sterne
  • Heimliches Lieben
  • Du liebst mich nicht

or, if the composers are different, try this:

Three Spanish Songs

  • Del cabello más sutil                                                       Fernando Obrador
  • Alla arriba en equella montaña                                        Jesús Guridi
  • Oy, majo de me vida                                                      Enrique Granados


Please do not use Roman or Arabic numbers of movements of a sonata or symphonic work, even if they are used in the score. Programs look better without I. II. III. IV. in front of the movement names.

The exception is for excerpts of a piece that are performed on a program, or movements that are out of order, Roman numbers should be used.    


The generic name for the ‘extras’ on certain letters in languages other than English is diacritical marks. The most common of these are the accent, the umlaut, the cedilla, the circumflex, the tilde, and the caron or háček.

Be sure to get the diacritical marks right, as leaving off an accent or an umlaut or other diacritical mark means that a word is misspelled.

Ligatures should also be used, when appropriate; likewise for the double-s character in German: ß. There are many guides to finding diacritical marks on your computer such as this one from

An excellent and comprehensive article on this subject can be found in this wikipedia article. Here are some examples, if you would like to copy and paste them: À à Á á Â ä Å å Æ æ ç È è É é Ì ì Í í î ñ Ò ò Ó ó ö ø ß Ù ù Ú ú ü ¥ ř

Quotation marks in Spanish: The symbols (« and ») are angular quotation marks, often known as chevrons or guillemets—comillas franceses or comillas angulares in Spanish. They're interchangeable with and are used the same way as are regular double quotation marks, except that any punctuation marks go outside the quotation marks in Spanish. Angular quotation marks are used more in Spain than in Latin America.

Exclamation points in Spanish: In English, an exclamation point appears once at the end of the word or phrase. In Spanish, words or phrases are framed at the beginning  (inverted) and end. Example: Enough! ¡Bastantes!

In Spanish, question marks are used at the beginning (inverted) and end of a question. Example: Where? ¿Donde?

Additional notes: In Spanish, if a letter is upper case, no accents are used, even if they would be used for the lower-case letter. In Italian, however, if a letter gets an accent, it makes no difference if the letter is upper case or lower case.

In Spanish, accents go only in one direction (accent acute) : á é í ó ú  In Italian, accents go only the ‘other’ direction (accent grave) à è ì ò ù.

French and the Slavic languages use both accent acute and accent grave.

In addition to umlauts and accents, another diacritical mark that is essential in the Slavic languages is the háček or caron. This is the inverted circumflex found in the name Dvořák.

Note: not all fonts support all diacritical marks. Supported fonts include Times New Roman, Trebuchet, Arial, Optima Pro, URW Classico TOT.


Names of movements are usually in foreign languages; therefore, only the first word is capitalized. In general, follow the same rules for titles of pieces, above. Examples:

  • Allegro non troppo
  • Con moto
  • Light and airy (or Light and Airy; consult the score to be certain)
  • Finale: Allegro molto
  • Rondo: Presto ma con sentimento

Here are two ways to deal with subtitles and nicknames:

  • Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97 (The Archduke)
  • Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97 ("The Archduke")

Do not use just the nickname:

  • [wrong] The Archduke Trio

Don't translate titles into English if they are well-known in the original language:

  • [right]: Kinderscenen
  • [wrong] Scenes from Childhood


This applies primarily to singers, but other musicians may find this information useful. Your song translations should always show the name of the poet or author of the words. If it doesn't appear in your music, look it up!

You must also show the name of the translator. Even if you don't have express permission to print a translation that isn't yours, it's better to print it and give the source than to print it and not give the source. You are plagiarizing if you print a translation and don't acknowledge where it came from!

If it is yours, put your own name, or your initials. If you took most of the translation from someone else, but made significant changes, put your name as editor or ‘adapted by.’ You will never go wrong by acknowledging correctly and accurately the source of material in your program; but you could come to grief by not acknowledging the source of your material.

You can choose to write your translations in verse or in paragraph form. The translation page is also a good place to give the opus number, the year of composition, and the source of the song if its from a collection.

If you are printing the English text (in addition to translations), then the title should be Song Texts and Translations. If you are giving only the Translations, the title should be Translations. Although colleges and university concert programs usually do not print the original language and the translation, this is often done for the most prestigious concert series. In that case, the original language and the translation should be in parallel columns. To make the program easier to follow, it's also a good idea to repeat the title. Here are some examples:


by Riccardo Schulz

An den Mond. Johann Wolfgang Goethe; D. 259 (1815)

To the Moon. Fill again with shining mist the trees and valley, free at last my soul. You spread your gaze soothingly over my domain, like a friend's gentle eye over my destiny etc.

Or, this one:

Du bist die Ruh. Friedrich Rückert; D. 777 (Op. 59, No. 3; 1823)

You Are Peace. You are peace, gentle harmony, and longing; and what stills it. Joyfully, painfully, I dedicate to you in this dwelling my eyes and heart. Turn to me, closing the door softly behind you; drive other pains from my breast; fill this heart with other joy. The temple of these eyes is lighted solely by your splendor; oh fill it completely.

Notice that the English title has upper and lower case according to the rules for English; the German titles follow the rules based on that language.

Here is an unusual case: the original words for this song were in English, and translated into German. The best solution is to use the original English, because no one can translate back to the original language and make it better than the author:

Ständchen. William Shakespeare, trans. August Wilhelm Schlegel.; D. 889 (1826)

Serenade. Hark, hark, the lark in heaven's blue! etc.

Here is another example: Here, the title and the first line are always the same, so the first line is not repeated. 'La maja dolorosa' is the song cycle; 'Oh muerte cruel' is the first song in the cycle.

La maja dolorosa. Fernando Periquet; from Colección de tonadillas

The Grieving Lady

¡Oh muerte cruel! Cruel death! Why did you treacherously snatch away my gallant man from my passion! I care not to live without him, because to live so is to die. It is not possible to feel more grief: tears dissolve my soul. Oh God! Bring back my love, because to live so is to die.

Notice again that the upper-case/lower-case conventions apply to each language differently. Therefore, the title in Italian will follow the rules for Italian, while the translated title will follow the rules for English:

La regata veneziana. The Venetian Regatta.

The CRAM Guide was created by Riccardo Schulz and is used by the Penn State School of Music with permission from the author.

© Riccardo Schulz (2013) May be republished only by permission,

Riccardo Schulz is a recording engineer and Associate Teaching Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he teaches sound recording and related subjects. He has a master’s degree in musicology from the University of Pittsburgh, and is former program annotator for the Y-Music Society of Pittsburgh.