Italics and Underlining: Titles of Works
There was a time when we didn’t have extensive formatting options for typed documents. Today, writers use underlining, italics, bold text, and quotation marks to emphasize certain words. The words that often get emphasized are names of ships or planes, words used as themselves, foreign words, and titles of books, movies, songs, and other titled works.
Italics and quotation marks are used today to emphasize titles of works such as books, poems, short stories, and articles. Different style guides have different standards for italics and quotation marks, so you’ll need to learn which to use.
Titles of full works like books or newspapers should be italicized.
Titles of short works like poems, articles, short stories, or chapters should be put in quotation marks.
Titles of books that form a larger body of work may be put in quotation marks if the name of the book series is italicized.
How to Emphasize Book Titles
The way you format titles isn’t really governed by grammar rules. It’s a matter of style. If you want to, you can emphasize whatever you want, however you want—but that could make your writing nearly unreadable. Consistency is also very important for emphasis, which is why businesses, institutions, and publications look to style guides.
Book titles are usually put in the same category as other big, standalone, or complete bodies of work like newspapers, symphonies, or publications. Style guides that prescribe the use of italics, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or the AMA Manual of Style , say that titles of such works should be put into italics when appearing in text.
Some writers still use underlining if italicizing is not an option, but generally it’s considered outdated. You should also note that these guidelines apply to titles that appear in a text and are surrounded by other words. Titles at the top of the page or on the front cover don’t require italics or underlining. Their separation from the rest of the text is already enough to get the reader’s attention. You don’t have to italicize the title of your thesis, for example, when it appears on the cover.
How to Emphasize Titles of Smaller Pieces of Work
Let’s say you want to write the title of an article or book chapter. Should you italicize it? For shorter pieces of work or works that don’t stand alone but are part of a greater whole, you should use quotation marks. See the examples below:
Punctuating titles can cause trouble for some writers, but the rule is actually quite simple: If the punctuation is part of the title, include it in the italics or quotation marks. If it’s not part of the title, make sure it’s outside the italics or quotation marks.
In the first sentence, the title itself is a question, so the question mark is italicized as part of the title. In the second sentence, however, the title is not a question; rather, the sentence as a whole is a question. Therefore, the question mark is not italicized.
Exceptions for Emphasizing Titles
The rules for emphasizing titles may seem straightforward, but there are exceptions. What happens if you have more than one title, for instance? If you have, say, a collection of novels in one book (let’s take, for example, all three Lord of the Rings books in one handy paperback), the title of the collection would be italicized or underlined, and the titles of the three books would then be put in quotation marks.
Note that if the title contains ending punctuation marks, those should be included within the quotation marks. If a punctuation mark is used in the sentence containing a title, periods and commas should go inside the ending quotation mark, while question marks and exclamation points should go outside the ending quotation mark.
If you have two titles in one sentence (for example, a book title and a chapter title), the title of the larger work should be italicized, and the smaller work should be in quotation marks. See the example below:
You would also do this with episodes from TV shows:
Up for some exercise? See if you can emphasize the titles in the following sentences!
I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe over the summer.
Have you read Humble Origins to Classic Footwear, Espadrilles Endure on the Newsweek website?
Is Paradise Lost a poem?
The final part of Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, was my favorite.
You only get so much information about Harry from reading A Boy Who Lived.
A Boy Who Lived is the first chapter of the book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
MLA Style Guide, 7th Edition: Titles
- About In-text Citations
- In-text Examples
- How to Paraphrase and Quote
- What to Include
- Editors, Translators, etc.
- Publication Date
- Place of Publication
- Date of Access (when needed)
- Book with Personal Author(s)
- Book with Editor(s)
- Book with Organization as Author
- Work with No Author
- Parts of Books or Anthologies
- Multi-Volume Works
- Journal Article
- Newspaper Article
- Magazine Article
- Government Publication
- Web Publications
- Other Common Sources
- Formatting Your Paper
- Formatting Your 'Works Cited' List
- Annotated Bibliography
General Rules for Titles in Works Cited List (in progress)
In general, the title of a work is taken from the title page of the publication. Refer to section 3.6.4 of the MLA Manual for more about titles and quotations within titles. Section 3.6.5 discusses exceptions to the rules.
- Rules for capitalizing are strict. Capitalize all principal words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.). Do not capitalize articles, prepostions, or conjunctions when they fall in the middle of a title.
- Separate a subtitle with a colon and a space.
- Italicize titles of larger works like books, periodicals, databases, and Web sites.
- Use quotation marks for titles published in larger works like articles, essays, chapters, poems, Web pages, songs, and speeches.
Book titles are italicized.
- Writing Matters: A Handbook for Writing and Research (book)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God
- All the Pretty Horses
Chapter title in a book or anthology
The book title is italicized ; the title of the article or essay is enclosed in quotations.
Henderson, Carol E. "Refiguring the Flesh: The Word, the Body, and the Rituals of Being Loved in Beloved and Go Tell It on the Mountain ." Critical Insights: Toni Morrison . Ed. Solomon O. Iyasere and Marla W. Iyasere. Pasadena: Salem P, 2010. Print.
Beloved and Go Tell It on the Mountain (book titles) remain italicized in the article title.
Journals and Magazines
The title of the periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) is italicized. The title of the article or work is enclosed in quotations.
Danport, Sandra. " A Study of Malawian Households." Journal of Developing Areas ...
Gardiner, Andy. "Stanford Could Lose QB, Coach." USA Today ...
The title of the periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) is italicized. The title of the article or work is enclosed in quotations. Omit any introductory article in the newspaper title for English-language newspapers ( Palm Beach Post, not The Palm Beach Post ). Retain the article in non-English language newspapers ( Le monde ).
The title of the work is italicized if the work is independent. The title of the work is enclosed in quotation marks if it is part of a larger work. The title of the overall Web site is italicized if distinct from the the title of the work.
Park, Madison. "How Does a Baby Get To Be Obese." CNN.com ....
Salda, Michael N., ed. The Cinderella Project ...
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Writing A Book Title In Your Essay – The Right Way
09 Mar 2022
📃APA Style Essay: Book Titles
✒️APA Style: The Name of The Author
📒MLA Style: Citing a Book Title
✏️Chicago Style: Book Title
📑Various Types of Titles
🖊️Underline or Italicize Book Titles
When you are writing an academic essay , the book title and author’s name should be written in italics. However, if the book title is part of a larger work (such as a journal article), then it should be placed underlined instead. So, you’re wondering how to write a book title in an essay?
In this article, we will explore how to write both titles in an essay properly so that you avoid any mistakes!
APA Style: How to Write Book Titles in Essays
When writing an essay, you must follow the style guide provided by your instructor. Some teachers may require you to use APA style and others MLA style. There are some rules on how to quote a book title in an essay. When writing book titles in essays, you should use italics and quotation marks. For example: " The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. "
When writing a book title in APA Style, you should be aware of these rules:
Write the book title in italics and place it after the author's name, which is presented in reverse order (last name first).
Use quotation marks around the headline of a chapter or article.
Capitalize proper names that are not common nouns (names of people, places, organizations), but do not capitalize words such as "and," "or," "to," or "and/or."
Do not capitalize prepositions that appear at the beginning of titles if they are followed by an article (e.g., "A," "An"), but do capitalize prepositions at the beginning of titles if they are not followed by articles ("Of").
The first word of the headline should be capitalized, as well as any other words after a colon or hyphen. For example, "The Elements of Style: Grammar for Everyone" , or "Theories of Personality: Critical Perspectives" .
Capitalize proper names and words derived from them (e.g., the names of people, places, organizations), except proper nouns used generically (e.g., 'a bed').
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APA Style Essay: Writing The Name of The Author
You should always use the full name and surname of the author in your APA essay because this will give proper credit to the writer. If you do not mention the author’s full name, people may not know who wrote what and they will think that you have copied it from somewhere else. This will cause lots of problems for you and your reputation as well.
Make sure that all authors' names appear in the same format in each entry. For example, if one person's surname is Smith and another's is Jones but both have first names starting with "J," then it may seem like they are being cited as different people when they're actually written differently from each other on separate pages in your paper.
In order to write an APA essay without any issues, there are certain rules that you need to follow while writing an author’s name in APA essay:
- Use only one author’s name in your paper unless there are multiple authors
- If there are multiple authors, then use both their last names followed by the initials of their first names
- Only use initials of first names when there are three or more authors; otherwise, use full names with their last names
Example: Johnson, M.C., Carlson, M., Smith, J. N., & Hanover, L. E.
MLA Style Essay: Citing a Book Title
Now let’s discuss how to mention a book in an essay. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition, published by the Modern Language Association (2014), contains detailed rules about how to cite a book title in an essay.
The following guidelines will instruct you on how to refer to a book in an essay in MLA style:
- List your sources at the end of your paper, before the works cited page or bibliography.
- Use italics for titles of books, magazines, and newspapers, but not for articles within those publications, which should be placed in quotation marks.
- Include all relevant information about the book under two separate categories: "title" and "author." In the former category, include both the title of the work and its subtitle if there is one; do this even if neither appears on your title page (see below). In the latter category include only primary authors who have written or edited an entire book; if there are multiple contributors you should cite them separately under each.
The general format for citing the title of book in essay is:
Author's last name, first initial (Date). Title of Book with Subtitle if there is one. Publisher Name/Location of Publisher; Year Published
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Chicago style essay: writing the book title.
One of the most important things to remember when writing in Chicago style is how to write the title of a book in an essay. To write a good book title in essay, you should follow these steps:
- Write it at the beginning of your sentence.
- Capitalize it just like any other noun or proper noun.
- Put a comma after the title, unless it's an introductory clause or phrase. For example: "The Firm," by John Grisham (not "by") and "The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D Salinger (not "and").
- In addition to the book's name, punctuation marks should also be italicized
For example: Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince: Children's Edition
Writing Various Types of Titles
Now that we covered how to write a book title and author in an essay, it’s time to look at some different types of titles. When you write a book title in an essay, there are several things to consider. Whether it's a book, series or chapter title; editor's name, or author's name, the way you write it depends on where it appears in your paper.
Here are some key rules for writing headings for novels:
- Use capital letters to write the title of the novel. For example The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett .
- Use italics as well as capital letters to write the name of the author and his/her other works mentioned in a book title. For example Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) .
When writing headings of short title poems, articles, and stories, you should put quotation marks.
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Should We Underline or Italicize Book Titles?
It depends on which style guide you use. The Modern Language Association and Chicago Manual of Style both suggest that you use italics, while the American Psychological Association suggests that you use quotation marks with a few exceptions.
The way you write the title of a book in an essay is different depending on the instructions you were given. For example, if you're writing an essay in APA style, use quotation marks around the name of the book. If you're writing for MLA or Chicago style , however, italicize the name of the book instead. If you're writing a handwritten essay instead of using a computer, capitalize and underline the name of the book instead.
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Essay Writing Essentials
- FORMAT: Type papers with a 12 pt. font, double-space, number pages, and proofread carefully; correctness counts.
- While you are encouraged to use your natural voice, avoid highly colloquial usage , such as "The ending blew my mind" or "Her awesome sense of humorâ?¦" Avoid passive construction, such as "irony can be seen inâ?¦" or "a definite freedom was evidenced inâ?¦," which makes writing feel stiff and pompous. Instead, write, "the reference to her brother's saintliness is ironic" or "the seemingly random association of images suggests freedom."
- The convention in writing about literature is to discuss actions from a work in present tense, as if they were happening right now: "Joyce creates a melancholic mood with images of night and isolation." Or, "When Marlow first sees Kurtz, heâ?¦."
- Use transitional words or phrases to connect parts of your argument (e.g., therefore, furthermore, nevertheless, consequently, however, similarly, by contrast, rather, instead, as a result, on the other hand, for example, etc.). These are SIGNPOSTS that help the reader follow the thread of your argument. Remember, these words can begin a sentence or can connect two independent clauses using the following punctuation: "Woolf's writing can be highly sarcastic and playful; however, in To The Lighthouse , the tone is somber and elegiac." Instead of "So" or "Also," use more formal phrases: "It is clear, then, that Marlow lies to himself on at least one occasion"; "This passage confirms that Marlow isn't honest with himself."
- Introduce the text you're writing about in the beginning of your essay by mentioning the author's full name and the complete title of the work. Titles of books should be underlined or put in italics . (Titles of stories, essays and poems are in "quotation marks.") Refer to the text specifically as a novel, story, essay, memoir, or poem, depending on what it is.
- In subsequent references to the author, use his or her last name. If the title is very long and you are making numerous references to it, you can refer to it by a shortened version. i.e., "A Perfect Day For Banana Fish" can become "Banana Fish."
- Don't begin by quoting the assignment sheet or indicating which topic you're writing about. Your essay should stand alone, quite independent of the assignment sheet.
- Don't begin with vast generalizations like "Within every human being there are unique thoughts and feelings that no other person has ever experienced before." Or, "Color symbolism is found in all great pieces of literature." These "from the dawn of time" statements point to a lack of focus or (public enemy number one) a vague thesis.
- In most cases, it's best to state your main idea - your thesis - in the first or second paragraph, so that your reader knows right away what it is that you're going to argue.
- Don't evaluate the quality of the writing ("Faulkner's use of symbolism, narration, word choice, and characterization made this a powerful novel."); analyze and interpret instead. You're not writing a review, where evaluation is appropriate; you're writing criticism (which isn't necessarily critical, but analytic). Avoid comments such as "I likedâ?¦" or "I was confused byâ?¦." Don't refer to your own process of investigation. Instead of writing "I couldn't find a beginning, climax, end in â??The Mark On The Wall,'" (which tells your readers about you instead of the text), you might write "'The Mark On The Wall' dispenses with the traditional beginning-climax-end story structure."
- Avoid plot summary at all costs !! It's sometimes hard to resist the desire to rehash a novel's plot. However, remember, in academic writing it is assumed that your audience is familiar with the text. Make sure you're writing an argument, not simply a plot summary.
- Evidence. Evidence. Evidence . It's fine to make a point, such as "the first memoir seems rambling and aimless, while the second is tightly structured." But then you must provide examples that support your points. Continue on with, "For example, in â??Reminiscences', Woolf discusses her mother in several places, sometimes repeating herself, sometimes contradicting her previous statements. Twice Woolf tells us that her motherâ?¦.."
- Determine what the text says. Don't read your own assumptions into the text, as in: "The speaker must be a man because women wouldn't act so insensitively." Instead, you might say, "The speaker seems to be male because the cursing and the news of the war was more likely the province of men during the early 20 th Century." Instead of a statement such as, "The author shows the pride Americans feel in their freedom," you can more accurately say, "The author is writing about Americans who are proud of their freedom."
- style – is it formal? journalistic? colloquial, stream of consciousness, etc.?
- voice – written in first, second or third person (and why)
- imagery – what metaphors and similes are used?
- tone – humorous, intimate, sarcastic, conversational, etc.?
- mood – melancholic, ecstatic, hyper, suspenseful?
- language – poetic? lyrical? scientific? pseudo-scientific?
- structure – is it loose and rambling? Tightly structured? Is there a climax and denouement? How are the parts of the story connected?
- plot and character development – what do we know of the "story" and of the characters?
- symbolism – sometimes a cigar is only a cigar, and sometimes not.
- point of view – how do different characters see things? What's the author's view?
- setting – is place important? How is it described? What role does it play?
- Use quotations to support your argument or interpretation. (Note that writers make statements , not quotes ; something isn't a "quote" until you've copied it out, so you never say, "The author quotes." Instead you say, "The author says..." or "the author writesâ?¦"
- Don't expect quotations to make your point for you. Rather, use your own language to make your argument; use the quote as evidence that will support what you have to say. Before or after the quote, connect it to your argument using your own words: eg., As Gilbert and Gubar argue in The Madwoman in the Attic .
- Don't incorporate the page number of a quotation as part of your sentence: "On page 116 the author makes reference..." because you don't want the page number to be the emphasis of the sentence. Write, rather, "The author makes reference to..."
- If everyone is writing on the same text, cite the passage you want to quote by giving the page number in parentheses after it: "She told Christmas about the graves" (248). Note where the period is.
- If you use more than three exact words from your source, you must put them in quotation marks.
- If, within those quotation marks, you must use other quotation marks to indicate direct speech, the author's own quoting, or to refer to the title of the story, use single quotation marks: "For example, in â??Reminiscences', Woolf discusses her mother in several places."
- If you add words to a quotation, put brackets around them; if you omit words, use ellipses to indicate them. Example: Brunvand states: "some individuals [who retell urban legends] make a point of learning everyâ?¦tale" (78).
- Periods and commas go inside quotation marks; semicolons and colons go outside.
The faithful drudging child the child at the oak desk whose penmanship, hard work, style will win her prizes becomes a woman with a mission, not to win prizes but to change the laws of history. (23)
- If you're using several texts, then footnote the quotation, providing the name of the author, title of the book, publishing information, and page number.
- In APA style, provide the author's last name, the year of publication and page (line in case of verse) numbers in the text, parenthetically, and include a complete reference in the WORKS CITED list at the end. Punctuation comes after the citation. Example: "Is it possible that dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes, 1999, 184)?
- CONCLUSIONS: Conclusions should stress the importance of the thesis, give the essay a sense of completeness, and leave a final impression on the reader. An effective conclusion might answer the question "So what?" It might synthesize (not summarize) the points. Or it might echo the introduction, underscoring the larger significance of your thesis (now that we understand its complexity).
Most important: If you know all this, great. If it seems overwhelming, don't despair. You don't have to write papers alone. The Writing Center is open from morning to evening with tutors trained to help you compose and edit. (x-8409) Bell Tower 1512.
Proper Way to Write Book Titles
by Dan (Indiana)
Hi there, When I write and want to talk about an author and the title of their book, how should I write the title? Should it be in quotes, underlined, italic or maybe something else? Please help.
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How to Write a Book Title And Author in an Essay?
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So, you’re writing an essay, and you’re referencing a book. But how on earth do you write and cite the title and the author’s name correctly?
Do you use quotation marks? Italics? Punctuation? And what about capitalization?
The answer is a little more complicated than you might think. It all depends on the style of essay you’re writing, but once you’ve familiarized yourself with the rules for each one, it’s easy to mention and cite any book title and author’s name correctly, so you can get top marks from your instructor, each and every time.
Table of Contents
The Correct Way to Write a Book’s Title And Author in an Essay
In this post, we’ll look at the three most common essay formats used in the US and learn how to properly display book titles and author names in each one.
The Most Popular Essay Formats
The three most commonly used essay formats found in schools, universities, and higher education institutions across America are known as APA, MLA, and Chicago style.
The format your professor assigns will depend on the subject matter, the department, the purpose of the essay, and the instructor’s individual preferences.
APA stands for the American Psychological Association. This is the go-to format for scientific essays, including many social and behavioural sciences.
MLA stands for Modern Language Association and is the most frequently used format in humanities and liberal arts subjects, such as literature and history.
Chicago format, also known as Turabian after its creator, Kate L. Turabian, is commonly used in the publishing world and also in subjects such as anthropology, history, and selected social sciences.
Why is Using The Correct Format so Important?
The short answer is that you’ll receive a lower grade if you don’t.
But of course, there are many good reasons why proper formatting is important when writing papers and essays.
Formats like APA, MLA, and Chicago provide a strict set of criteria to stick to throughout an essay, ensuring consistency.
Consistency avoids confusion for the reader and helps them to quickly and easily identify what the writer is trying to say.
2. References And Research
Sticking with one style or format makes it easier for readers to check citations and conduct further research into the chosen topic.
3. Demonstrating Understanding
In academic settings, adhering to a particular style guide, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, demonstrates your understanding of the rules and principles of written material within that field.
This shows that you don’t just understand the subject; you also know how to write about it.
4. Preparation For Future Studies
Suppose you’re a high school student or a college undergrad, familiarizing yourself with the basic principles of essay formatting. In that case, it is a great way to prepare yourself for your future academic pursuits, especially if you plan to progress onto a graduate or postgraduate program.
How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of an APA Style Essay?
Here are the key rules to remember when writing book titles in the main body of an APA-style essay:
- Use quotation marks (not italics) on either side of the book’s title (with the exception of the holy texts like the Bible and reference works like dictionaries and almanacs).
- The first word of the title should be capitalized.
- All words and terms containing more than four letters or symbols should be capitalized.
- Any two-part words containing a hyphen should be capitalized.
- Words placed directly after a colon or dash should also be capitalized.
For example, “Slaughterhouse-Five”
How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of an MLA or Chicago Style Essay?
MLA and Chicago-style essays use similar rules when it comes to mentioning book titles in the main body of an essay. Here are the key things to remember when using either of these formats:
- The book’s title should be displayed in italics (not quotation marks), with the exception of holy texts like the Bible.
- If the title contains punctuation, this should be italicized, too.
- All verbs, nouns, and adjectives should be capitalized.
- If you’re referring to a chapter or mentioning a book alongside the series it belongs to, use quotation marks, not italics.
O ne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, or “A Clash of Kings” from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
1. Avoid Capitalizing Minor Words
Unless they appear as the first word in a title, the following words should be displayed in lowercase.
- Prepositions , such as on, in, at, and from.
- Articles , such as the, a, and an.
- Coordinating conjunctions , such as so, and, yet, but, and for.
This might sound a little complex at first, but it’s pretty simple and intuitive once you get the hang of it.
99% of the time, the book’s title as it is displayed on the front cover is correct for both MLA and Chicago-style essays.
How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of a Handwritten Essay?
Handwritten essays used to be the norm, but these days, they’re most definitely the exception.
Still, there may be some instances where you’re asked to handwrite an essay rather than type it, in which case, you should follow the rules below.
The capitalization rules for writing book titles in the main body of a handwritten essay are the same as with typed essays.
So, if you’re handwriting an APA-style essay, make sure to capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title and do the same for every word containing more than four letters.
And when handwriting an MLA or Chicago-style essay, capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title and do the same for every word except for articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions.
No matter the format, book titles should always be underlined when handwriting an essay
- Underline the complete title, including any words that come after a colon or dash
- Underline any punctuation that appears in the book’s title
- Avoid underlining each word separately; always use one continuous line
- Make your line as straight as possible by using a ruler or following the line on the paper
How to Cite a Book And its Author in a References or Works Cited Page?
So, now you know how to write the title of a book mentioned in the body of an essay.
But what do you do when you need to cite a book and its author in your references or works cited page?
To keep it simple, I’ll use Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 classic children’s novel , Anne of Green Gables, as an example for each essay style.
1. Book Citations in APA Style
Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in APA:
Last Name, First Names. (Year the book was published). Book title .
For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. (1908). Anne of Green Gables.
2. Book Citations in MLA Style
Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in MLA:
Last Name, First Names. Book title . City of Publication, Publisher, Year the book was published.
Note: You only need to include the city of publication if the book was published before 1900 or if the publisher is not based in the US.
For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables. L.C. Page & Co., 1908.
3. Book Citations in Chicago Style
Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in Chicago style:
Last Name, First Names. Book Title: Subtitle . City of publication: Publisher, Year the book was published.
Note: Just like with MLA style, you only need to include the city of publication if the book was published before 1900 or if the publisher is not based in the US.
For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables . L.C. Page & Co., 1908.
4. Book Citations in a Hand Written Essay
If you’re handwriting an essay, you’ll no doubt be handwriting your references or works cited page, too.
In this case, you should still follow the appropriate formatting rules above in relation to the chosen essay style.
But where a title appears in italics in a printed essay, in a handwritten essay, it should be neatly underlined instead.
If you’ve searched high and low for a book’s publisher, publication date, or the city in which it was published, but you still can’t find the information, it’s generally acceptable to leave it out.
Essay writing is a skill that takes practice, and at first, the rules and principles of the different formats can seem complex. This is especially true when you’re writing about books and their authors or citing other people’s work.
But hopefully, this post has helped explain the structures used in each of the most commonly used formats so that next time you write an essay, you can be confident that you’re doing it right.
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How to Write Book Titles in an Essay
Essays in literature often refer to the title of the book referenced. A reference to the book title may occur only once, but it gives the reader of your essay information about the subject of your discussion.
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1 mla style.
In an MLA-formatted essay, the title of a book should appear in italics. In the case of a handwritten essay, the title of the book should be underlined. Novels, textbooks and anthologies should all be italicized, while portions of these books, including chapters, short stories and poems, are noted within quotes.
2 APA Style
In an essay formatted in APA style, the title of a book also appears in italics. Additionally, any words in the title that are four letters or longer should be capitalized. Italicization is also required for edited collections of short stories and essays, movies, television series, documentaries and albums.
- 1 Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Writing in Literature: Formatting
- 2 Purdue University Online Writing Lab: APA Formatting and Style Guide: In-Text Citations: The Basics
About the Author
Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.
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Do You Italicize Book Titles? Essay Secrets Revealed
When you’re writing a scholarly article or writing in a professional setting, you want to make sure that your grammar and style is meeting the required expectations. There may be a chance you’re writing about a book you’ve read or citing sources in a research paper . If you’ve ever found yourself wondering things like, “Do you italicize book titles or underline them?” or “How do I cite shorter pieces of work properly?” then keep on reading!
We are going to give you all the details on when it’s correct to use italics, along with how to emphasize other types of reference material.
Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
Do you italicize book titles.
The general rule of thumb is to use italics for long works and quotations for short work.
But depending on the format you’re meant to adhere by, the rules may vary. For example, you may be instructed to write according to the APA style, MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style. You should follow the rules dictated by the guidelines.
- Modern Language Association (MLA): Used in arts and humanities
- American Psychological Association (APA): Used in social sciences
- Associated Press Stylebook (AP): Used for magazines, newspapers, and internet
- Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago): Used from publishing to science, one of the most popular styles
For MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style, you should use italics for long works and quotations for short works.
For AP style, however, you never use italics for pieces of work — no matter the length. Additionally, the APA style neither uses quotation marks or italics for shorter works. Instead, it expects them to be written as normal text.
Sometimes, the choice of style may be up to you as a writer. If that’s the case, then it’s best to stay consistent throughout your work with your usage of italics, underlines and quotation marks.
Short Works: How to Emphasize Titles of Shorter Pieces of Work
When you are making reference to a title of an article or a chapter in a book, you shouldn’t put it in italics. Instead, you can use quotation marks to emphasize these smaller pieces of work. This is the same rule for titles of episodes of shows.
Do You Italicize Punctuation in Titles?
When a piece of work includes punctuation, like a question mark for example, that part of the title should be italicized, too. For example, you’d write, “I love the book Oh the Places, You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss.”
However, when you are writing and using italics in a sentence for emphasis or within a parenthetical, then you do not italicize the punctuation.
Exceptions For Emphasizing Titles
Like with most aspects of English, there are some exceptions to the rule. One exception is when you have a book that is a collection of various novel titles, like Lord of the Rings . In this case, you’d put the title of the specific books in quotation marks, but you’d keep the title of the collection in italics.
Additionally, when the word “the” is part of a title, you do not italicize it. For example, it’s correct to write the New York Times .
How To Capitalize Properly
Titles have special formatting and capitalization rules. For example, you only capitalize the first word and all main words in a title.
You do not capitalize articles, such as “a,” “an” or “the.” For example, you’d write: War and Peace instead of War And Peace .
When to Use Quotations Instead
There are very specific cases for when you should elect to use quotation marks for the titles of works as opposed to italics. Use quotations for:
- Articles in journals or magazines
- Short stories
- Book chapters
- Television episodes
Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash
Examples of correct usage of italics.
Here’s a list of examples to help for reference sake:
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (movie title, notice that articles are lower case)
- The Cat in the Hat (book title)
- “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (song title)
- “How Pandemics End” (article title)
- The New York Times (newspaper title)
- “The Tell-Tale Heart” (a short story)
Knowing when to italicize or use quotation marks is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It may depend on the writing format you’ve been instructed to write in.
However, a general rule of thumb to follow is that longer pieces of work, like books, require italics, whereas shorter pieces of work, like poems or articles, will be written with quotation marks.
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How to Write the Title of a Book in an Essay
Ah, titles. The seemingly simple thing with a lot of pitfalls. For instance, APA requires source titles to be put in sentence case, while MLA requires title case for them. However, when it comes to writing the title of a book in an essay within the body, both styles agree on title case, still disagreeing on minute details of title case implementation. And style guides were introduced as writing help , to make our life easier! Go figure.
If you have abandoned all hopes of figuring out how to properly write a book title in an essay, this post is your beacon. Let’s unscramble this mess.
Writing a Book Title in an Essay: General Rules
First of all, let’s see where APA, MLA, and other formats agree on what to do when writing titles in the body of your essay:
- The titles of self-contained and independent books are put in italics: novels, short stories, collections of poems, long stand-alone poems, plays: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Shakespeare’s Macbeth , John Donne’s Holy Sonnets , etc.
- The titles of parts within a complete work should be put in “quotes”: titles of chapters in the books, titles of acts or scenes in a play, title of a short poem or a song inside the collection. For example: “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience collection, “The Knight Bus” from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban .
- Sometimes, the title of a book can be put within another title (for example, a monograph about a novel or a poem). In this case, if the title mentioned within the title is usually put in italics, you should use italics as well “Unbearable Weight of Authenticity: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Theory of ‘Touristic Reading’.” If the title mentioned within the title is usually put in quotes, you should put it inside the single quotes instead of the double quotes. For example, “Individualism in O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’.”
- Titles of both stand-alone books and the parts within a complete work should be put in title case: “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” from The Poems of Emily Dickinson .
Unfortunately, capitalization rules to implement the title case vary widely from style guide to style guide, so from here you should be taking one of the possible paths depending on the style required for your essay.
No time for that? Let us take care of stylistic nuances for you while you are busy doing something more important. Our editors are well-versed in all styles of academic writing and will format your paper impeccably.
However, if you are set on mastering the title case in all the flavors it comes in, let’s waste no more time!
How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: MLA Style
MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. MLA has published its first handbook in 1977 and regularly updates it with the current edition being the 8th one released in 2016. The MLA recommendations given there have become the default in humanities: English studies, linguistics, literature, cultural and media studies.
According to MLA, in the title you should always capitalize:
- - the first and the last word in the title
- - proper names
- - principal words: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs
- - subordinating conjunctions (because, although, if, unless)
You should NOT capitalize in the title:
- - articles (unless they come first or last). For example, in the title The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “The” is capitalized because it is the first word, but “a” isn’t capitalized, because it’s an article in the middle of a title
- - prepositions (unless they come first or last)
- - coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
- - to in infinitives
How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: APA Style
APA stands for the American Psychological Association, and the first edition of its Publication Manual was released back in 1954. Since then, it has been updated several times, with the current version being the 7th edition published in 2019. APA style and format has become the most popular and widespread in academia, especially in social sciences.
According to APA, you should capitalize:
- - major words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns)
- - all words of four letters and more (besides, between, except, among, from)
- - words after the em dash, colon, semicolon, etc., even if it’s an article or a short preposition, for example Queen Mab; A Philosophical Poem; With Notes
- - second parts of hyphenated words (Cease-Fire, Sit-In, Make-Believe)
You should NOT capitalize minor words, which are:
- - articles in the middle of the title
- - conjunctions of three letters or fewer
- - prepositions of three letters or fewer
How to Write a Title of a Book in an Essay: Chicago Style
First published in 1906, The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English by the University of Chicago. Its current edition is the 17th one, published in 2017. Although not as popular as APA or MLA, Chicago (sometimes also called CMOS or CMS) is still a very influential style widely used in academia, especially in Business, History, and the Fine Arts.
For the title case, Chicago recommends the capitalization of all words, with the exception of:
- - all conjunctions (regardless of their length)
- - all prepositions (regardless of their length)
That’s refreshingly straightforward. Moreover, The Chicago Manual of Style is as relaxed as to advise, “Break a rule when it doesn't work.”
How about that? If coping with an essay on your own isn’t working out, it’s time you asked for help!
Elissa Smart is an omnipotent demiurge behind PaperHelp's blog. Driven by seething creativity, not only she helps students with particular research and writing requests, but also finds the energy to share her extensive expertise via blog posts. A Barclay College graduate, Elissa puts her BA in Psychology & Family Studies and MA in Transformational Leadership degrees to good use, being of benefit to readers who are willing to learn from accomplished experts. She can also talk about boating on the Lake Superior by the hour, roots for Atlanta Falcons, and loves to sing in thick woods.
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How to Write a Book Name in an Essay
Last Updated: January 27, 2023 References
This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Danielle Blinka is a Writer, Editor, Podcaster, Improv Performer, and Artist currently living in Houston, TX. She also has experience teaching English and writing to others. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Master of Arts in English with a concentration in writing, and Master of Public Administration from Lamar University. This article has been viewed 49,558 times. Learn more...
When you’re writing an essay that includes a book title, it can be confusing to write the title correctly. However, it’s really easy once you know the rules. How you write the title will vary a little bit depending on the style your instructor assigns and if you are typing or handwriting the essay. Luckily, it's easy to follow the rules for writing a book name in an essay.
Typing an Essay in MLA or Chicago Style Format
- For example, you would write To Kill a Mockingbird , The Lord of the Rings , or Wuthering Heights .
- If you have the book name in front of you, you can just copy it down as it is printed.
- Articles include a, an, and the.
- Prepositions include at, in, on, of, about, since, from, for, until, during, over, above, under, underneath, below, beneath, near, by, next to, between, among, and opposite.
- Coordinating conjunctions include the FANBOYS, which are for, and, not, but, or, yet, and
- For example, you would write the name of William Faulkner’s novel Absalom, Absalom! with both the comma and the exclamation point in italics.
- If the highlight bar goes away, try again, making sure that you don’t click anywhere on the page after you highlight the book name.
- Alternatively, you can press the italicize icon before you type the title.
- If you’re using Microsoft Word to type your essay, the italicize key may appear if you hover over the highlighted book name.
- If the next word after your title appears italicized when you resume typing, simply highlight it and click the italicize icon to remove the formatting.
- For example, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is sometimes published in one volume. In this case, you could write the name of the first novel as "The Fellowship of the Ring" when citing it in an essay.
Typing an Essay in APA Format
- Capitalize the first letter of the words, not the entire word.
- If the word is a two-part hyphenated word in the title, you should capitalize both words. For example, you would write Blue River: The Trial of a Mayor-Elect .
- If there is a dash or colon in the title, you should capitalize the word after the punctuation, regardless of how long the word is. As above, you would write Blue River: The Trial of a Mayor-Elect .
- For example, you would write Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? with the question mark italicized.
- If the book name is not highlighted, left click and drag your cursor again, making sure that you don’t click again anywhere on the page.
- If you are using Microsoft Word, the italics icon may appear when you hover over the highlighted book title. It’s okay to click this key.
Handwriting an Essay
- For MLA and Chicago style essays, capitalize the first word of the book name and every word other than articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions. For example, write The Lord of the Rings .
- If you’re using APA style, capitalize the first word and all words longer than 4 letters.  X Research source This means you would write Public Policy in Local Government .
- If you’re writing on lined paper, it may help to follow along the line of the paper. However, make sure your line is dark enough so that your instructor will see that you properly underlined the book name.
- For example, you would write Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by underlining the punctuation marks as well as the words.
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_general_format.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/writing_about_literature/formatting.html
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/underline-or-italicize-book-titles/
- ↑ https://askus.library.wwu.edu/faq/116757
- ↑ https://libguides.up.edu/apa/books_ebooks
- ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/italics-quotations/italics
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The title of a book should be capitalized when written in a sentence. Additional formatting, such as quotation marks or underlining, depends on the overall style expectations for the paper.
An author uses a book’s title to give important information about the contents of the book to the reader. Writers often claim that choosing a title is one of the most important aspects of publishing a written work.
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According to the Chicago Manual of Style and the Modern Language Association, titles of books (and other complete works, such as newspapers and
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How to Write a Book's Title in The Main Body of an MLA or Chicago Style Essay? · The book's title should be displayed in italics (not quotation
In an MLA-formatted essay, the title of a book should appear in italics. In the case of a handwritten essay, the title of the book should be underlined. Novels
When you are making reference to a title of an article or a chapter in a book, you shouldn't put it in italics. Instead, you can use quotation marks to
The titles of self-contained and independent books are put in italics: novels, short stories, collections of poems, long stand-alone poems, plays: The Grapes of
Include any punctuation in the italics if it's part of the book name. Most book names don't include punctuation, but occasionally you will encounter a title