It can be confusing to know which titles get italicized and which get quotation marks when citing them in your writing. An easy rule to remember is that short titles and sections of work, such as a chapter title in a book or an episode in a TV show, get quotation marks while larger titles or works, such as a book title or an album, are italicized. However, which one you use may depend on the style and format of writing you are following.
Why Use Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles?
Italics and quotation marks are generally used to set a composition title apart from the text surrounding it. For example, if you were writing the sentence "I read The Cat in the Hat," it wouldn't necessarily be clear what the title was, or even that there was a title at all.
So, italics and quotation marks make the title stand out. A sentence such as "I read The Cat in the Hat" or "I read "The Cat in the Hat" today" is a lot clearer.
Should you set off a title with italics or should you set it off with quotation marks? Well, there are rules for that.
Rules for Using Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles
There are several different writing style guides: The Modern Language Association (MLA) is the style generally used in arts and humanities papers; the American Psychological Association (APA) is used for social sciences; the Associated Press Stylebook (AP) is commonly used in magazines, newspapers and the internet; and the Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago), one of the most well-known formats, is followed in a wide variety of disciplines from publishing to science.
Each of the style guides have their own rules when it comes to formatting titles. AP style is one of the simpler styles to remember, as it does not use italics in composition titles at all.
All formats except AP recommend the following titles should be in italics:
- Ballets, Operas, Symphonies
- Comic strips
- Exhibitions at a museum
- Aircraft and spacecraft
All formats except APA recommend that the following titles should be in quotation marks:
- Book chapters
- Names of video games
- Single episodes of TV and radio shows
- Unpublished writing such as manuscripts or lectures
- Album tracks or singles
- Podcast episodes
- Short stories and poems
APA differs from other formats in that it does not use either quotation marks or italics for titles of shorter works, such as essays that are in collections, lectures or journal articles. These shorter works are formatted in regular type.
MLA and Chicago, while agreeing on most citation styles, diverge on some points. In MLA the titles of online databases should be italicized; Chicago style says to set those in regular type. MLA says that all websites should be italicized while Chicago style says they should be in regular type.
When Not to Use Italics or Quotation Marks
There are certain titles of things that should not be in italics or quotation marks. The following titles should always be set in regular type:
- Scriptures of major religions
- Constitutional documents
- Legal documents
- Traditional games (such as football, hopscotch or blackjack)
- Commercial products (such as Cocoa Puffs)
- Political documents
- Names of artifacts
- Names of buildings
Print and Online Style Differences
Italicizing is easy to do on the computer, but not practical when you are hand writing something. In such cases, underlining is still used and is the same as writing a title in italics.
When formatting titles for the web, be aware that you should go with whatever style is most visually appealing. Online formats tend to be less formal in style compared to print materials. Styling for the web is about attracting visitors to the site so make the title stand out without looking clunky in order to get more attention.
Determine What to Use
By practicing the above rules for using italics and quotation marks you will find that it will become easier to determine what you should use. If you are uncertain about what to use, ask yourself if the title of a work appears inside a larger body of work or if it can stand alone. If the title belongs inside a larger body of work, use quotation marks. If the title is for a body of work that stands alone, it should be in italics. And remember that consistency is key, whichever style you choose.
To learn about which words should be capitalized in a title read YourDictionary's article on Rules for Capitalization in Titles.
Post a comment.comments powered by
Using Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles
By YourDictionaryIt can be confusing to know which titles get italicized and which get quotation marks when citing them in your writing. An easy rule to remember is that short titles and sections of work, such as a chapter title in a book or an episode in a TV show, get quotation marks while larger titles or works, such as a book title or an album, are italicized. However, which one you use may depend on the style and format of writing you are following.
In the midst of writing an essay, paper, or article, you may need to throw in a direct quote here and there; to add emphasis, authority, or clarity to your work. A quote can often accomplish things that a paraphrase or summary simply cannot . A clear and direct voice can easily drive a point home better than the best group of sentences you can come up with.
And along with this, in the process of sorting out your notes and research data, you may find that the quotes you'd like to include in your paper are not all from books and journal articles. Considering that your information can come from many sources, whether they be print, online, or audiovisual, its a good chance that you can have sources ranging from books and government documents to mp3s and Youtube videos. All of which need to be properly cited a formatted.
Formatting style and citation overview
A prerequisite to citing anything is a format and guideline to follow. And this usually comes about from the three basic styling guides, APA, MLA, and Chicago Manual of Style (the Turabian styling guide is also popular but closely resembles the Chicago manual in many respects; so often times the two are categorized together). A professor or publisher will generally request one of the three types of formatting styles, for both in-text and bibliographic listings.
These are the two main types of citations; one that appears in the text of a work and one that appears at the end. The in-text is how you indicate the source of your quote in the lines of the text of your paper and the work cited, bibliography or reference pages are where your source will show up at the end of your document. It may be helpful to become familiar with all the styling guides to make things easier for you in the long run, but typically you'll just need to know the details of the one being requested of you, when preparing your paper or essay for publication.
*This article will focus on audiovisual citations only.
In most cases, since the written word is often used in research (whether online or in print) the chances of you actually using audiovisual material for research may be minimal. So this type of citing is usually not as common as the rest; but nonetheless still needs to be addressed to avoid plagiarism in any fashion.
*The following list is categorized by medium and provides details of both in-text citations and also ones that appear in a list at the end of the document.
APA (American Psychological Association)
1. Audio Recording
Krasdale, S. (Speaker). (2010). The way money works (Cassette Recording No. 17). New York, NY: Education Plus Inc.
2. Film/Motion Picture
(Dunhoo & Titun, 1985)
Dunhoo, A. (Producer), & Titun, K. (Director). (1985). Inside the aerospace industry [Motion Picture]. United States: Lakeview Films
3. Radio broadcast
Lopez, P. (Narrator). (2013, March 1). The harms of secondhand smoke amongst children [Radio broadcast episode]. In E. McDonnell (Producer), Morning Edition. Washington, DC: National Public Radio.
MLA (Modern Language Association)
1. Audio Recording
Work cited listing:
Kent, Abdullah. The diseases of the heart. 1995. True Audio, 1999. Audiocassette.
2. Film/Motion Picture
(The Politics of Money)
Work cited listing:
The Politics of Money. Dir. Larry Smith. New Studios, 2000. Film.
3. Radio Broadcast
("Fun with marriage")
Work cited listing:
"Fun with marriage". Morning Digest. Philadelphia-Delaware Radio . WXKF, Philadelphia. 12 June 2002. Radio.
*MLA basic rule of thumb:* When providing in-text citations for MLA you may notice that the in-text citation matches the beginning of the work cited listing. This is the basic setup for MLA referencing. To make finding a source relatively easy, the in-text citation will simply mirror the beginning of the listing that is found at the end of the paper.
Chicago Manual of Style
1. Audio Recording
Randolph Klein, Understanding French, Knowledge Productions 1678-CD, 2012, Compact disc.
Klein, Understanding French.
Klein, Randolph. Understanding French. Knowledge Productions 11678-CD. 2012. Compact disc.
2. Film/Motion Picture:
The Life of the Ruler, DVD, directed by Tod Lewis (1982; New Orleans, LA: Castle Light Productions, 2000).
The Life of the Ruler.
The Life of the Ruler. DVD. Directed by Tod Lewis. 1982; New Orleans, LA: Castle Light Productions, 2000.
3. Radio Broadcast:
"Cleaning up after the tsunami," Morning Digest, WXKF Philadelphia-Delaware Radio (Philadelphia, PA: WPKT, January 10, 2005).
"Cleaning up after the tsunami"
"Cleaning up after the tsunami." Morning Digest. WXKF Philadelphia-Delaware Radio . Philadelphia, PA: WPKT, January 10, 2005.
Citing using any manual of style can be a tedious process. When obtaining a movie or film quote save some time by not watching anything at all. Many, many video recording, films, and motion pictures have transcripts available for them (as well as audio recordings). This is a tremendous help when providing direct quotations. Instead of struggling to decipher and record an exact statement, a keyword search in the work's transcript can just as easily provide the same results.
Please note that for some citation guidelines (such as MLA film/video recording citations) there is no a one-size-fits-all method of citing. There are actually a few different methods citing based on what you would like to emphasize in your referencing (for example, maybe you'd like to emphasize the director or the people involved, then your citation would be changed because of that).
Also your citation may be altered based on whether or not you provide a signal phrase or include the full reference in the text of your paper as oppose to using parenthetical citations. The default method for all the in-text citations above are parenthetical, with no signal phrases. And finally there is no in-text citation format for the Chicago manual of style because footnotes and endnotes are utilized with this guide instead.