Titles: Underline, Italics, or Quotations?
(printable version here)
When writing about other works, it's hard to decide when to underline (or place in italics) a title and when to place it in double quotations. Note that some publications have a "house style" that must be followed. When in doubt, however, these guidelines from the Modern Language Association may help:
For titles of written or musical works that are published within other works use double quotations; underline or italicize names of works published by themselves:
ex. I just read the short story "Looking for Jake" in China Miéville's anthology of the same name, Looking for Jake.
ex. Beckett's play Waiting for Godot will be performed next season.
ex. Devo's second album, Duty Now for the Future, has one of my favorite songs, "Swelling Itching Brain."
ex. Yes, I went to a science-fiction convention. I really enjoy the original Star Trek TV series, especially the episode "Return of the Archons," and the first three Star Wars films, especially The Empire Strikes Back, okay?
ex. I read the story "All about the Bronx" in the city section of today's New York Times.
ex. I have subscribed to my favorite magazine, The Atlantic, for many years.
For names of artwork, always use italics or underlining:
ex. We have a copy of Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks in the Writing Center lobby. I always think about it when I'm listening to Tom Wait's CD Nighthawks at the Diner.
For the names of famous aircraft, ships, and spacecraft, always use italics or underlining:
ex. I built scale models of the USS Nimitz and the space shuttle Discovery last year.
ex. The Bible, Book of Exodus, or Qu'ran do not get underlined in the text of a paper. A specific edition would, however, be underlined in a works-cited list. Their titles are capitalized.
Back to 'Sentence Structure and Mechanics', 'Punctuation', or 'Using Sources'
Writer's Web | Writing Center | Make an Appointment | Library
Simply put: no.
APA's Publication Manual (2010) indicates that, in the body of your paper, you should use italics for the titles of:
- periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers)
- TV shows
- Microfilm publications
Beyond APA's specific examples, know that certain types of titles are almost always written in italics.
Use italics in a word-processed document for the types of titles you'd underline if you were writing by hand. A general rule of thumb is that within the text of a paper, italicize the title of complete works but put quotation marks around titles of parts within a complete work.
The table below isn't comprehensive, but it's a good starting point
|Titles in Italics||Titles Placed in "Quotation Marks"|
|Title of a periodical (magazine, journal, newspaper)||Title of article in a periodical|
|Title of a book||Title of a chapter in a book|
|Title of a movie or play||Name of an act or scene in a movie or a play|
|Title of a television or radio series||Title of an episode within a tv or radio series|
|Title of a musical album or CD||Title of a song|
|Title of a long poem||Title of a short poem|
|Names of operas or long musical composition|
|Names of paintings and sculptures|
Title of a short story
On an APA-style reference page, the rules for titles are a little different. In short, a title you would italicize within the body of a paper will also be italicized on a reference page. However, a title you'd place in quotation marks within the body of the paper (such as the title of an article within a journal) will be written in normal lettering and will not be in quotation marks.
Here are some examples:
Smith (2001) research is fully described in the Journal of Higher Education.
Smith's (2001) article "College Admissions See Increase" was published in the Journal of Higher Education after his pivotal study on the admissions process.