Italics Essay Titles

Which Titles Are Italicized and Which Are Enclosed in Quotation Marks?

by Tina Blue

January 4, 2001

There are only a few simple rules to follow when deciding how to punctuate a title that occurs within a body of prose.

NOTE:The title of an article or essay is not enclosed in quotation marks, italicized or underlined at the top of the page. The reason for punctuating a title that occurs in a body of prose is to set it off and to identify it as a title. When the title of an article or an essay appears over the article, its position is sufficient to identify it as the title.

ITALICS

     ~Italics are used primarily to punctuate the titles of full-length works that are published separately.  There are also a couple of specialized uses for italics with titles.

1. The titles of book-length works that are published separately are italicized. This includes books, full-length plays, if published separately, and long poems, if published separately:
Novel:  One Hundred Years of Solitude
Play:  Death of a Salesman
Long Poem:  Paradise Lost

     2. The titles of works that include shorter works are italicized. This includes anthologies and collections of songs, poems, short stories, short plays, and essays.

    3. The titles of newspapers and magazines are italicized.

    4. Technically, the titles of movies and television shows should be italicized, because individual scenes and episodes may have their own titles, which would be enclosed in quotation marks. The influence of newspaper reviewers, however, has undermined this principle, so you are likely to find the titles of movies and television shows enclosed in quotation marks.

    5. The names of ships, trains, airplanes and spacecraft are italicized, but not H.M.S. or U.S.S.:

U.S.S. Nimitz
H.M.S. Pinafore 
Starship Enterprise
Orient Express

QUOTATION MARKS

  ~Quotation marks are used to punctuate titles of short works and parts of other works--i.e., titles of those works that are not published separately.
1. Chapter titles are enclosed in quotation marks (but not chapter numbers).
2. The titles of short stories are enclosed in quotation marks.
3. The titles of short poems are enclosed in quotation marks.
4. The titles of newspaper and magazine articles are enclosed in quotation marks.
5. The titles of essays are enclosed in quotation marks.
6. The title of a longer work that would be italicized if it were published separately (e.g., Paradise Lost or a play) would be enclosed in quotation marks if the work is included in a longer collection or anthology. For example, a collection of works by John Milton might be entitled The Complete Works of John Milton, and the title of the poem Paradise Lost or the drama Samson Agonistes, though they would usually be italicized, would be enclosed in quotation marks when reference was being made to the edition of which they were merely a part.

UNDERLINING

Long ago and in a galaxy far, far away, people had to type their work, or even write it out longhand. Unless you had your own printing press, you couldn't do italics. Therefore, when something needed to be italicized, that fact was represented by underlining. In other words, underlining something is equivalent to italicizing it, so it is not proper to both italicize and underline a title. (And, as with italics and quotation marks, titles are not underlined at the head of an essay or article.)

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1.4: Italics and Underlining

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Elizabeth Angeli, Allen Brizee on April 3, 2013 .

Summary:

This resource deals with italics and underlining.

Punctuation, Continued

Italics and Underlining

Italics and underlining generally serve similar purposes. However, the context for their use is different. When handwriting a document--or in other situations where italics aren't an option--use underlining. When you are word processing a document on a computer, use italics. The important thing is to stay consistent in how you use italics and underlining.

Italicize the titles of magazines, books, newspapers, academic journals, films, television shows, long poems, plays, operas, musical albums, works of art, websites.

  • I read a really interesting article in Newsweek while I was waiting at the doctor’s office.
  • My cousin is reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for two different classes.
  • I have every album from Dave Matthews Band, except for Crash.

Quotation Marks and Italics/Underlining Exercise

In the following sentences put in quotation marks wherever they are needed, and underline words where italics are needed.

1. Mary is trying hard in school this semester, her father said.
2. No, the taxi driver said curtly, I cannot get you to the airport in fifteen minutes.
3. I believe, Jack remarked, that the best time of year to visit Europe is in the spring. At least that's what I read in a book entitled Guide to Europe.
4. My French professor told me that my accent is abominable.
5. She asked, Is Time a magazine you read regularly?
6. Flannery O'Connor probably got the title of one of her stories from the words of the old popular song, A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
7. When did Roosevelt say, We have nothing to fear but fear itself?
8. It seems to me that hip and cool are words that are going out of style.
9. Yesterday, John said, This afternoon I'll bring back your book Conflict in the Middle East; however, he did not return it.
10. Can you believe, Dot asked me, that it has been almost five years since we've seen each other?
11. A Perfect Day for Bananafish is, I believe, J. D. Salinger's best short story.
12. Certainly, Mr. Martin said, I shall explain the whole situation to him. I know that he will understand.

Click here for exercise answers.

Punctuation Exercise

Put in semicolons, colons, dashes, quotation marks, Italics (use an underline), and parentheses where ever they are needed in the following sentences.

1. The men in question Harold Keene, Jim Peterson, and Gerald Greene deserve awards.
2. Several countries participated in the airlift Italy, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg.
3. Only one course was open to us surrender, said the ex-major, and we did.
4. Judge Carswell later to be nominated for the Supreme Court had ruled against civil rights.
5. In last week's New Yorker, one of my favorite magazines, I enjoyed reading Leland's article How Not to Go Camping.
6. Yes, Jim said, I'll be home by ten.
7. There was only one thing to do study till dawn.
8. Montaigne wrote the following A wise man never loses anything, if he has himself.
9. The following are the primary colors red, blue, and yellow.
10. Arriving on the 8 10 plane were Liz Brooks, my old roommate her husband and Tim, their son.
11. When the teacher commented that her spelling was poor, Lynn replied All the members of my family are poor spellers. Why not me?
12. He used the phrase you know so often that I finally said No, I don't know.
13. The automobile dealer handled three makes of cars Volkswagens, Porsches, and Mercedes Benz.
14. Though Phil said he would arrive on the 9 19 flight, he came instead on the 10 36 flight.
15. Whoever thought said Helen that Jack would be elected class president?
16. In baseball a show boat is a man who shows off.
17. The minister quoted Isaiah 5 21 in last Sunday's sermon.
18. There was a very interesting article entitled The New Rage for Folk Singing in last Sunday's New York Times newspaper.
19. Whoever is elected secretary of the club Ashley, or Chandra, or Aisha must be prepared to do a great deal of work, said Jumita, the previous secretary.
20. Darwin's On the Origin of Species 1859 caused a great controversy when it appeared.

Click here for exercise answers.

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