Writing Titles Correctly


There are strict rules that must be followed when writing the titles of full-length books, articles from periodicals and newspapers, and shorter works, such as essays, poems, plays, films, short stories, television and radio programs, etc.

The titles of full-length books should be written in italics, as in the following: The Kite Runner. The author’s name should not be italicized. In fact, the writer’s name should never be given any special treatment in terms of font, underlining, etc. It should always be presented in regular font. Although italicizing the title of a book is the preferred method, it is also acceptable to underline the name, as in the following: Moby Dick. You should not both underline and italicize a title. Neither should you use quotation marks for the titles of full-length books. The names of periodicals and newspapers should, like the titles of books, be italicized or underlined, as in The Wall Street Journal.

The titles of lengthy reports and other long documents, whether or not they have been published, should also be italicized or underlined, as in Effects of Global Warming on the Antarctic Ice Shelf.

Shorter documents may be enclosed in quotation marks, as in “Shakespeare’s Use of Humor In His Historical Plays,” or they may be written without any special notation or punctuation.

Newspaper and periodical articles should always be enclosed in quotation marks, as in “Big Money Still Learning to Lobby” by Jenny Anderson (The New York Times, March 13, 2007, page C1).

The title of a short story, play, poem, musical piece, movie, television or radio program, work of art, or other short literary composition should be enclosed in quotation marks, as in the following example: “The New Colossus.”

Even though there are situations in which these guidelines may be altered, in general, they should be followed, as explained above.