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How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

3-minute read

  • 26th May 2023

When writing an essay, you’re likely to mention other authors’ works, such as books, papers, and articles. Formatting the titles of these works usually involves using quotation marks or italics.

So how do you write a book title in an essay? Most style guides have a standard for this – be sure to check that first. If you’re unsure, though, check out our guide below.

Italics or Quotation Marks?

As a general rule, you should set titles of longer works in italics , and titles of shorter works go in quotation marks . Longer works include books, journals, TV shows, albums, plays, etc. Here’s an example of a book mention:

Shorter works include poems, articles, chapters of books, episodes of TV shows, songs, etc. If it’s a piece that’s part of a biggHow to Write Book Titles in Your Essayser work, the piece considered a short work:

Exceptions to the Rule

The rule for writing book titles in italics applies specifically to running text . If the book title is standing on its own, as in a heading, there’s no need to italicize it.

Additionally, if the book is part of a larger series and you’re mentioning both the title of the series and that of the individual book, you can consider the book a shorter work. You would set the title of the series in italics and place the book title in quotation marks:

Punctuation in Book Titles

Do you need to apply italics to the punctuation in a book title? The short answer is yes – but only if the punctuation is part of the title:

If the punctuation isn’t part of the title (i.e., the punctuation is part of the sentence containing the title), you shouldn’t include in the italics:

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Summary: Writing Book Titles in Essays

We hope you’ll now feel confident when you’re writing and formatting book titles in your essays. Generally, you should set the title in italics when it’s in running text. Remember, though, to check your style guide. While the standards we’ve covered are the most common, some style guides have different requirements.

And once you finish writing your paper, make sure you send it our way! We’ll make sure any titles are formatted correctly as well as checking your work for grammar, spelling, punctuation, referencing, and more. Submit a free sample to try our service today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write the title of a book in a sentence.

Set the title of the book in italics unless the book is part of a larger work (e.g., a book that’s part of a series):

When do you use quotation marks for titles?

Place titles of shorter works or pieces that are contained in a larger work in quotation marks:

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Writing A Book Title In Your Essay – The Right Way

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Table of contents

  • 1 APA Style: How to Write Book Titles in Essays
  • 2 APA Style Essay: Writing The Name of The Author
  • 3 MLA Style Essay: Citing a Book Title
  • 4 Chicago Style Essay: Writing the Book Title
  • 5 Writing Various Types of Titles
  • 6 Should We 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), it should be underlined instead. So, you’re wondering how to write a book title in an essay?

Writing an essay with a book title can be tricky, particularly because each style guide has its own formatting rules for including titles in the main text. Whether you are using MLA, APA, Chicago, or Harvard referencing styles, you will need to consider how to properly format the book title. For more complicated literature-based assignments, seeking assistance from an admission essay writing service may be wise, as they specialize in writing essays that incorporate academic sources.

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 professor. 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. You should use italics and quotation marks when writing book titles in essays. 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’).

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 will think you 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, both have first names starting with “J.” 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.

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 book information under two categories: “title” and “author.” In the former category, include the work’s title 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 the book in an essay is as follows:

Author’s last name, first initial (Date). Title of Book with Subtitle if there is one. Publisher Name/Location of Publisher; Year Published

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 an 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, several things must be considered. Whether it’s a book, series, chapter title, editor’s name, or author’s name, how 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 and 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) .

You should use quotation marks when writing headings of short title poems, articles, and stories.

However, before deciding which format to use, it is important to understand the main idea you want to express in your essay. Additionally, you could use essay papers for sale to help you accomplish your goal of writing an essay effectively.

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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 using italics, while the American Psychological Association suggests using 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 book’s name. If you’re writing for MLA or Chicago style , however, italicize the book’s name instead. If you’re writing a handwritten essay instead of using a computer, capitalize and underline the book’s name.

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what do you do to book titles in an essay

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How to Write a Book Name in an Essay

Last Updated: February 14, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Noah Taxis and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Noah Taxis is an English Teacher based in San Francisco, California. He has taught as a credentialed teacher for over four years: first at Mountain View High School as a 9th- and 11th-grade English Teacher, then at UISA (Ukiah Independent Study Academy) as a Middle School Independent Study Teacher. He is now a high school English teacher at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco. He received an MA in Secondary Education and Teaching from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. He also received an MA in Comparative and World Literature from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a BA in International Literary & Visual Studies and English from Tufts University. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 63,110 times.

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.

Writing Help

what do you do to book titles in an essay

Typing an Essay in MLA or Chicago Style Format

Step 1 Capitalize the first letter of all nouns, verbs, and adjectives in the book name.

  • For example, you would write To Kill a Mockingbird , The Lord of the Rings , or Wuthering Heights .

Step 2 Avoid capitalizing articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions.

  • 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

Step 3 Include punctuation in the italics if it’s part of the title.

  • For example, you would write the name of William Faulkner’s novel Absalom, Absalom! with both the comma and the exclamation point in italics.

Step 4 Highlight the book name.

  • 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.

Step 5 Click the italicize icon to format the title.

  • 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.

Step 6 Left click your mouse on another area of the document.

  • 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.

Step 7 Use quotation marks instead of italics if the book is part of an anthology.

  • 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

Step 1 Capitalize the first word and all words longer than 4 letters.

  • 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 .

Step 2 Include any punctuation in the italics if it’s part of the book name.

  • For example, you would write Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? with the question mark italicized.

Step 3 Highlight the title.

  • 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.

Step 4 Click the italicize icon to change the format of the title.

  • 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.

Step 5 Move your cursor off of the title.

Handwriting an Essay

Step 1 Capitalize the words according to the style format you are using.

  • 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. [9] X Research source This means you would write Public Policy in Local Government .

Step 2 Underline the complete title.

  • 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.

Step 3 Underline punctuation if it’s part of the title.

  • 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.

Expert Interview

what do you do to book titles in an essay

Thanks for reading our article! If you’d like to learn more about academic writing, check out our in-depth interview with Noah Taxis .

  • ↑ 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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How to Write a Book Title in an Essay (MLA, APA etc.)

Formatting your essay correctly ensures that you get full recognition for the hard work you put into it. Wondering what to do? There are two scenarios that lead you to the question of "how to write a book title in an essay":

  • You have not been required to use a particular style guide, in which case consistency remains important.
  • You have been instructed to use a particular style guide. You now simply need to ensure that you are familiar with its rules.

Regardless of which of these scenarios holds true for you, this guide is here to help.

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay

Many style manuals call on writers use title case and italics to format a book title. Title case rules vary slightly from one style guide to the next, but generally capitalize all important words — nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adverbs. Conjunctions and prepositions are not capitalized unless they are very long (generally more than four letters) or they appear at the beginning or end of a book title.

Writers who are not required to work with a specific style manual can't go wrong if they stick to this style. Some examples would be:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect us From Violence by Gavin de Becker
  • The Cat With a Feathery Tail and Other Stories by Enid Blyton

If, on the other hand, you're required to use a style guide, it will likely be one of these:

  • MLA, commonly used in disciplines relating to literature and social sciences.
  • APA, commonly used in psychology and other sciences.
  • Chicago, often used in the publishing industry.
  • Harvard style, commonly used in philosophy and social sciences.

These are certainly not the only "big players" in the style guide world, but they're ones it's good to be familiar with. There is overlap between these styles, but there are also major differences — so knowing one definitely does not mean you know the others, too.

Guidelines for Writing a Book Title in an Essay

Looking for a short and sharp answer, so you can get on with the rest of your essay? This is it.

This quick guide will help you reference the book title of your choosing in the body of your essay, but what about your Works Cited pages? Each style guide offers different rules, and we'll use the same book as an example to illustrate the differences.

  • MLA uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book . City of Publication, Publisher, Publication Year. Example: Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game. Tor Books, 1985. (You only have to detail the city of publication if the book was published before 1900, the publisher has offices in many localities, or the publisher is not known in the US.)
  • APA uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. (Year of Publication). Title of book. Example: Card, Orson Scott. (1985). Ender's game.
  • Chicago style uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. Book Title: Subtitle . Place of publication: Publisher, Year. Example: Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game . Tor Books, 1985.
  • Harvard uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Initial. (Publication Year). Title . ed. City: Publisher. Example: Card, O. (1985). Ender's Game. Tor Books.

If, after researching, you cannot find relevant information about publication years, publishers, or the city in which a book was published, you may omit it. For a full guide, it is always best to have a physical copy of the latest edition of the style manual you are using. You can, however, get by without this if you need to.

Should you still not know what to do, it will be helpful for you to know that you can "generate" citations for a particular style manual with the help of online tools like Cite Me . These are not always accurate, so if you decide to use one, always check the citation manually.

Why Is Proper Formatting Important?

All of the well-known style manuals ultimately serve the very same set of purposes, although they were each developed for a particular niche. The goals of these style manuals are both explicit and implicit:

  • Following a style guide ensures consistency throughout a document, in this case an essay.
  • Consistency ensures that reader's understand precisely what the writer is talking about, without exerting any effort on figuring that out. Clarity is especially important in academic writing.
  • By using a style guide within a certain discipline, you show that you understand the rules within that discipline. This adds credibility to your voice as a writer. You have done your homework, have ideally bought the style manual, and are part of the "in group".
  • Sticking to a certain style guide makes it easier for relevant parties to check your references, which they can then use to perform further research.

Students are increasingly asked to refer to style guides at all levels, including in high school. In this case, formatting your essay correctly, in accordance with the right style manual, serves two additional purposes:

  • You'll lose points if you don't do it right, offering you an additional reason to do your research.
  • Getting used to these formats prepares you for further education. If you are in high school, it prepares you for college-level writing. If you are an undergraduate student, it prepares you for academic work at the graduate and post-graduate levels.

Can you start an essay with a book title?

Yes, you can start an essay with a book title. This is a valid stylistic choice, but you will always want to consider your introduction carefully.

How do you write a book title in handwriting?

Students sometimes ask whether it is acceptable to underline book titles instead of italicizing them. This practice indeed stems from a time in which most students wrote their essays by hand. Although it has largely fallen out of practice now, you can still underline a book title if you are handwriting your essay.

How do you write a book title and chapter in an essay?

You should mention the chapter title first: "Rat" from Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Consult the relevant style manual to ensure you get the formatting right.

Can you shorten a book title in an essay?

Yes, you can. Reference the full title the first time you mention it (for example: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things ). The next time you mention the book, you may simply refer to Furiously Happy .

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How To Write Book Titles The Proper Way: A Complete Guide For Writers

  • February 10, 2022

Book titles within essays or papers can be tricky. There are specific rules that are given for how to include a book title in a way that sets it apart from the content of your writing given by the Modern Language Association. However, as with many other things in life, there are exceptions to the rules. This article will guide you through the rules of the writing style guides so that you can include a book’s title in your paper or essay correctly.

How to write book titles:

Style guides and book titles.

When it comes to book titles within text, there are a few different style guides that have rules you can follow, depending on your writing type. The three types that you will encounter most often are; MLA style, Chicago manual of style, and APA. A writing instructor will usually tell you what style guide you are expected to use for a particular essay or paper.

MLA Style Guide

The MLA handbook states that you should always italicize book titles when styling book titles within your text. The exception to this rule are religious texts. You would not italicize the Holy Bible or the sacred books or titles of other religions. Note the following example.

Pam had stayed most of the summer indoors, re-reading her favorite book series. She was already up to  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone , and she didn’t regret not being more active or going outside.

In the above example, the book title is italicized. Fiction titles and nonfiction titles alike must be in italics when within the text.

Series Titles in MLA

In the above example, a book from a series was used. But what if the text had not specified which book from the series Pam was reading? Would it still need to be in italics? The answer is: in this case, yes. In other cases, sometimes.

It’s really not as confusing as it seems. When you are talking about a book series but don’t want or need to include the complete series titles for the purposes of your work, you only have to put words in italics that also appear in the book titles. So, because  Harry Potter  is part of the title of all of the books in the series, you would italicize his name every time you mention the book.

However, if you were talking about Katniss Everdeen, you would not have to do this, as the book series she is featured in doesn’t use her name in the titles of  The Hunger Games  series. The same would be true of books like the Nancy Drew books.

Quotation Marks

There are instances in which titles should be placed inside of quotation marks within a paper or essay. This is done when you cite the titles of poems , a chapter title, short stories, articles, or blogs.

How To Write Book Titles

So, for example, if you were to write a paper that featured a poem from a book, you would put the book title in italics and the poems cited in quotation marks.

An example of an enduring love poem is “Annabel Lee” from  The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. 

Chapter Title

Another time that quotation marks should be used is when using the title of a chapter. If you are citing a specific chapter of a book, you would enclose the title of the chapter in quotation marks, and the title of the book should be in italics.

The desperation and sadness of a man on death row can be seen in the “Wild Wind Blowing” chapter of Norman Mailer’s  The Executioner’s Song. 

Short Stories

Short stories are another case. Much like the title of a chapter or poem, in which the title is placed in quotation marks, while the title of the book or collection it is found in is italics. The same can be said for sections, stories, or chapters cited within a literary journal.

Stepping away from his norm of horror and gore, Stephen King writes of trust, love, and regret in his story “The Last Rung on the Ladder,” which can be found in his short story collection  Night Shift. 

Punctuation Marks

If you are citing a story or title that includes question marks, you need to make sure to italicize the question mark when citing. Keep all punctuation, such as a question mark, comma, ellipses, colon, or exclamation mark, as it is in the original individual books.

If you want a funny and irreverent read, you’ve got to try  Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.  Chelsea Handler has done a phenomenal job of being vulgar, relatable, and explaining life from her viewpoint in this hilarious and memorable book.

The Digital Age: Are Book Titles Underlined Anymore?

MLA style used to dictate that a book title should either be in italics or underlined. However, that is no longer the case. As computers started to take over as the major tool used in writing, it became unpopular to underline book titles. Therefore, this rule was dropped from the style guides.

However, it should be mentioned that when handwriting an essay or research paper, many instructors prefer that you underline book titles, as it’s relatively difficult to handwrite italics. If you are in a writing course or a class that is heavy on handwritten work, be sure to ask your instructor or teacher which method they prefer for citing a book title.

How To Write Book Titles

How to Come Up with Book Title Ideas

Now that quotation marks, italics, and style guides have been discussed, let’s move on to how you can come up with your own book title. If you’d like a title for your book that sounds interesting and will get a reader’s attention, you may find this article helpful.

Coming up with a good title for your book is a challenging yet essential marketing decision . The right title can make your target audience choose your new book off of the shelf instead of another writer’s work. Your book cover and your book title are quite possibly the most important marketing decisions you will make.

How to Choose a Good Book Title

Certain criteria should be met if you want to have a good book title , and there are specific steps involved in getting there. You may have assumed up until now that titles of books were just spur of the moment decisions made by authors or publishers, but a lot of work goes into writing good titles.

Grab the Reader’s Attention

As a general rule, you want your reader to remember your title and to sound interesting, even without the reader having seen the cover. There are several ways to do this. You can be a little dark with your title, be controversial, provoke the reader, or even be funny.

There are many examples of such works that use memorable and attention-seeking titles. The following are some different titles that are effective and would most likely provoke a reader to grab them from a shelf for closer inspection.

  • Burn After Writing (Sharon Jones)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Mindy Kaling)
  • Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (Chelsea Handler)
  • The Devil Wears Prada (Lauren Weisberger)
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul (various authors)
  • God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (Kurt Vonnegut)

Shorter Titles

If your full title for your book is long, you may end up boring a reader or creating a situation where a reader tries to remember the title of your book, but it’s too long and ends up getting it confused with another book. Although you should always do your best to make sure that there aren’t books by other authors that share a title or have a title similar to your book (more on that in a minute), you don’t want a person to get confused and get the wrong book instead.

Research Your Title Ideas

It’s a good idea to take the titles you have considered for your book and make a list. Then, do your homework. You can use tools like Google Adwords to test out your title to see if there are others like it, or you can simply use any search engine and plug your title ideas into the search bar and see what similar or exact titles of the same words pop up.

Readers are generally busy people. They don’t have the time or the energy to ensure that writers get a title right. They’ll look for the book they are interested in, and if it proves to be too difficult, or if there are other books written that have the same title, they’ll move on to something else.

A writer really has to make sure that they have a title that isn’t going to be ignored, is interesting, isn’t too long, and isn’t too similar to other works.

The same goes for titles of short works within a larger body of work. Short works, like poems or stories, need to have unique titles as well when included in a larger body of work, such as a collection. If stories are similar in nature, be sure to title them differently so that readers will be able to tell them apart, as well.

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How to Write Book Titles in Essays: APA, MLA, Chicago Styles

It’s your practical and up-to-point guide on how to write a book title in an essay. You’ll get the formatting rules and examples for citing book and author names in academic papers.

We’ve covered the top three citation styles: APA, Chicago, and MLA.

How to Write the Title of a Book in an Essay

First, remember the general rules of citing book names in academic works.

Here’s how to cite books in essays :

  • Use capitalization. Every word of a book’s name goes in the title case, except prepositions, articles, and coordinating conjunctions.
  • Use italics for longer and independent works. Use double quotations for shorter ones (poems, articles, book chapters, or play acts and scenes).
  • Use single quotations for a book’s title within another title. (When citing monographs about literary works, for example.) 

While capitalization rules depend on the citation style, some general tips have a place to be. Please, no capitalization for:

  • Articles: a, the (unless the book title begins with it)
  • Coordinating conjunctions and prepositions: of, and, or, but, for, to, nor, in, so (unless the book title begins or ends with it)

Subordinating conjunctions (although, unless, because, if) go in capital letters.

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: APA

APA (American Psychological Association) is the most popular style for citing academic works. It’s common for the social sciences like Education, Psychology, Sociology, and others. The current edition: 7th (2019).

Book titles in APA stand for:

  • Italics. (If a book name includes any punctuation, italicize it too.)
  • Capitalization. (Capitalize all words longer than four letters , regardless of the part of speech. Also, use capital letters for two-part words and those coming after a dash or a colon.)
  • Double quotations instead of italics. (When citing a short work like an article or a poem; when citing a book chapter or when the book is a part of an anthology.)

For example: 

The Lord of the Rings but “The Fellowship of the Ring” (The latter is part of the trilogy.)

Related: How to Cite a Movie in APA Format

How to Write the Name of a Book in an Essay: Chicago

The Chicago Manual of Style is a guide by the University of Chicago. It’s common for fields like History, Fine Arts, and Business. The current edition: 17th (2017).

How to format book titles in Chicago:

  • Italicize longer and independent works; put shorter ones in double quotations.
  • Use italics for punctuation within a title.
  • Capitalize all words except articles (a, the) and ALL prepositions or conjunctions (regardless of length).

For example:

In George Orwell’s 1984 , the author presents a dystopian society characterized by pervasive government surveillance and the suppression of individual freedom. The harrowing events in “Chapter 2,” where Winston Smith begins to rebel against the Party by starting a forbidden diary, mark a pivotal moment in the novel’s exploration of resistance against totalitarianism.

The style resembles the MLA format, but it’s flexible, allowing you to “break the rules if necessary.”

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: MLA

MLA format stands for the Modern Language Association. It’s common for humanities like Literature, Culture, Linguistics, etc. The current edition: 8th (2016). 

How to format books in MLA:

  • Italicize all words, including punctuation and those of two parts or going after colons and hyphens.
  • Capitalize all words except articles (a, the) , prepositions, and short conjunctions within a book title.
  • Use double quotations instead of italics when writing a book chapter or a part of a book series.

In Little Women , Beth March dies in Chapter 40, “The Valley of the Shadow.”

Formatting Book Author Names in Papers

Use the author’s full name (first and last) to format it in your essay for proper credit.

If a book has two authors, use both last names and initials. For works with three or more authors, use the last name of the first one and add “et all.”

No need to italicize author names in papers.

Why Properly Cite Book Titles in Essays

The short answer:

You won’t get a high grade for an essay. Formatting blunders count as mistakes.

The longer answer:

  • You prove writing skills and an understanding of the rules in academia.
  • Your papers maintain consistency. It’s critical to stick to criteria to prevent confusion. The consistent format for book headings also serves to better scannability and readability.
  • You learn to cite different types of references for your future projects.

Do you italicize book titles?

Yes, you put book titles in italics. Please italicize long and stand-alone works: books, movies, webpages, reports, or music albums. Shorter works’ titles (articles, essays, poems, songs, or book chapters) come in quotations. (1)

Do you underline book titles?

Underlining book titles is an outdated practice. Some still use it in handwritten essays, but it’s not a must-follow rule. Neither APA nor MLA (or Chicago) mentions underlining book names in academic papers.

How to use book title capitalization in texts?

Capitalize every word in a book’s title. Exceptions are articles (a, the), prepositions, and short (three or fewer letters) conjunctions in mid-titles.

Are books italicized in all formatting styles?

Yes, book titles come in italics in all styles: APA, MLA, and Chicago. When citing book chapters or a book as a part of a series, use quotation marks instead.

How to write a book author in an essay?

Use the author’s full name when citing their book in your papers. For works with several authors, mention their last names and initials. Unlike book titles, author names come in standard formatting with no italics.

References:

  • https://english.csuci.edu/resources/essay-writing-essentials.htm
  • Essay samples
  • Essay writing
  • Writing tips

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How to Write a Book Title in MLA Formatting

by Joe Bunting | 2 comments

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You're writing a paper for school and suddenly you stop in the middle of the sentence. You have to write a book title, but you don't how to format it. How do you format a book title in MLA style? Good news: you're in the write place (sorry, I had to).

In this post, we'll talk about MLA style and formatting, whether it's appropriate for your project, and most importantly, how to write a book title in MLA style.

How to Write a Book Title in MLA Formatting

What Is MLA?

MLA stands for Modern Language Association, a society primarily based in the United States but with international standing, that has a mission to “strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature”. Founded in the late 1800s by an American novelist and professor, MLA publishes a set of resources used by students and teachers, including the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers .

The MLA handbook is one of the main style manuals for students and scholars in the world, especially for anyone studying literature, film, or theater.

Should You Format Based on MLA Style?

If you're writing a paper for a class in literature, theater, or film, absolutely use MLA style. Outside of that, it depends. Here are the most frequent style guides associated with various disciplines:

  • Literature, Film, Theater:   MLA
  • Psychology:   APA
  • Science (Physics, Biology, Chemistry): CSE or APA
  • Journalism:   AP
  • Mathematics:   AMA
  • Publishing:   Chicago

You can find a full list of international style guides here .

Now that you know if you should be using MLA style, how do you format a book title with it?

How to Format a Book Title in MLA Style: Example

In MLA style, book titles are italicized, as so:

Henry Thorough argues in Walden  that the best life is lived in deliberate simplicity so as to discover what life truly is about.

In fact, most style guides, including MLA and   Chicago style, require book titles to be italicized , not underlined.

If the book title has a subtitle, the subtitle should be italicized as well and separated by a colon to be formatted correctly for MLA style, as in:

Natural History of the Intellect: the last lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Should You Underline Book Titles in MLA Style?

If you are using MLA style, you should not underline book titles. Instead, italicize the titles.

However, AP style, the guide used by journalists, suggests putting titles in quotation marks, not italicization.

Still, I wouldn't recommend underlining a book's title. In fact, I couldn't find a single style guide that requires book titles to be underlined, but if you know of one that does, let me know in the comments!

Which style guide do you use most? MLA? Chicago? APA? AP? Or do you just write based on your own rules?!  Let me know in the comments .

Let's cement this formatting lesson in our minds by putting it to use right away with the following writing exercise .

What are your favorite books of all time? Write about what you love about them and why they are your favorites for fifteen minutes . Make sure to use the correct formatting for each title!

When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section . And if you post, please be sure to read a few practices by other writers and share your feedback with them.

Happy writing!

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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how do you format the title if you’re writing on paper and can’t italicize?

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When writing by hand, you can underline book titles.

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Title of Source. The title is usually taken from an authoritative location in the source such as the title page. It is the name of the source you are using. Capitalize the following parts of speech in a title: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions (although, because, unless, after, until, when, where, while, etc.). Do not capitalize articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, the "to" in infinitives if they appear in the middle of the title. A colon separates the title from the subtitle unless it ends in a question mark or exclamation. Titles should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Titles that are independent and self-contained (e.g., books) and titles of containers (e.g., anthologies) should be italicized. Titles that are contained in larger works (e.g., short stories) should be in quotation s. Exceptions to the above rule are: 1) Scripture (Genesis, Bible, Gospels, Upanishads, Old Testament, Talmud, etc.) Titles of individualized scripture writings, however, should be italicized and treated like any other published work.(e.g. The Interlinear Bible) 2) Names of laws, acts and political documents (Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Treaty of Marseilles, etc.) 3) Musical compositions identified by form, number, and key (Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A, op. 92) 4) Series titles (Critical American Studies, Bollingen Series, etc.) 5) Conferences, seminars, workshops, and courses (MLA Annual Convention, English 110)

The title of the work follows the author and ends with a period . Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind . New York: Macmillan, 1961.

A sub-title is included after the main title . Joyce, Michael. Othermindedness: The Emergence of Network Culture. U of Michigan P, 2000. Baron, Sabrina Alcorn et al., editors. Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of               Massachusetts P /Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007.

The title of a story, poem or essay in a collection, as part of a larger whole, is placed in quotation marks . Dewar, James A., and Peng Hwa Ang. "The Cultural Consequences of Printing and the Internet." Agent of Change: Print             Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of Massachusetts P /Center for the Book, Library of Congress,             2007, pp. 365-77. 

Independent work in a collection When a work that is normally independent (such as a novel or play) appears in a collection, the work's title remains in italics. Euripides. The Trojan Women . Ten Plays, translated by Paul Roche, New American Library, 1998, pp. 457-512.

The title of a periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) is in italics and the title of the article is in quotation marks. Goldman, Anne. "Questions of Transport: Reading Primo Levi Reading Dante." The Georgia Review, vol. 64, no. 1, 2010           pp. 69-88. Note: This rule applies to all media forms such as the title of a television series, an episode in a television series, a song or piece of music in an album, a posting or article on a web page. See examples below. Television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer . Created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003. Episode in a television series "Hush." Buffy the Vampire Slayer , created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah           Michelle Gellar, season 4, episode 10, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003. Web site Hollmichel, Stefanie. So Many Books . 2003-13, somanybooksbkog.com Note: When giving a URL, omit http and https. Posting of an article on a web site Hollmichel, Stefanie. "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print."           So Many Books, 25 April 2013, somanybooksblog.com/2013/04/25/the-reading-brain-differences-between-digital-           and-print/. A song or piece of music in an album Beyonce. "Pretty Hurts." Beyonce , Parkwood Entertainment, 2013,           www.beyonce.com/album/beyonce/?media_view=songs.

Untitled Source In the place of the title, provide a generic description of the source without italics or quotation marks. Capitalize the first word in the title and any proper nouns in it. Mackintosh, Charles Rennie. Chair of Stained Oak. 1897-1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Comment or review of a title in an online forum Jeane. Comment on "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print." So Many Books, 25 Apr. 2013,            10:30 p.m., somanybooksblog.com/2013/04/25/the-reading-brain-differences-between-digital-and-            print/#comment-83030

Review of a title in an online forum Mackin, Joseph. Review of The Pleasures of Reading of an age of Distraction , by Alan Jacobs. New York Journal of Books, 2 June 2011, www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/            pleasures-reading-age-distraction.

Tweet Reproduce the full text without changing anything and enclose within quotation marks. @persiankiwi."We have report of large street battles in east and west of Tehran now. - #Iranelection." Twitter ,            23 June 2009, 11:15 a.m., twitter.com/persianwiki/status/2298106072.

E-mail message Use subject as the title. Subject is enclosed in quotation marks. Boyle, Anthony T. "Re: Utopia." Received by Daniel J. Cayhill, 21 June 1997.

Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword Capitalize the term in the works cited list but do not italicize or enclose in quotation marks. The term need not be capitalized in in-text discussion. Felstiner, John. Preface. Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan , by Paul Celan, translated by Felstiner              W.W. Norton, 2001, pp.xix-xxxvi.

Translations of Titles Place translations of titles for foreign works in square brackets in the works cited list. The translation appears next to the title.

Shortened titles The first time a title is mentioned in your work, it should appear in full. If the title is repeated in the work, it can be shortened to a familiar one (e.g., Skylark for Ode to a Skylark).

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How to Write A BOOK Title In An Essay

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Writing a book title in an essay can be confusing. But it is necessary for the credibility and clarity of the write-up. Plus, each writing style has its own rules for formatting titles. Hence, doing such an activity could be a real pain for the students.

Don’t worry, as you are in the right place! Since this interesting article focuses on guiding you about how to write a book title in an essay accurately. So, read it thoroughly before you search for a professional  paper writing services  provider.

Table of Contents

Understanding Formatting Guidelines

The first step in learning how to write book name in essay is to learn the basics. It means you need to get comfortable with different formatting guidelines. Let’s begin with the style guides.

Different style guides

When writing essays for college , it’s important to know the rules for formatting book titles. The three most popular style guides are MLA, APA, and Chicago.

In  MLA format , you should usually italicize book titles. You can also put them in quotation marks when a type of work demands.

For example, a book title like “To Kill a Mockingbird” would be italicized:  To Kill a Mockingbird .

However, a chapter title within a book would be placed within quotation marks. For example, “The Ewell Family.”

In  APA style , the first word of book titles is capital.

For example, a book title like “The Catcher in the Rye” would be written as The catcher in the rye

Chicago Style

Chicago style demands a book title to be in italics or quotation marks. It is very similar to the MLA style. But Chicago style gives you a bit more leeway to use italics or quotation marks. It’s best to stay consistent with what you pick throughout your essay when using the Chicago style.

Consistency within the Essay

You must be consistent when including the title of a book in an essay. Figure out what style guide you must follow and ensure you stick with it. That means all the book titles you mention should look the same.

For example, if you choose to italicize book titles according to MLA style. Ensure that all book titles in your essay are italicized consistently. Avoid mixing italicization with quotation marks or using different formatting styles within the same essay.

Inconsistency in formatting can confuse readers and undermine the professionalism of your work. Paying attention to detail and maintaining consistency will contribute to your essay’s overall clarity and readability.

Determine the Appropriate Style Guide to Follow

To determine the appropriate style guide to follow for formatting book titles in your essay, consider the following:

Assignment Requirements

See if your teacher or the instructions for the assignment mention a certain style to go by. Stick to that, if they do, to ensure everything is consistent, and you meet the expectations.

Academic Discipline

Your field of study can affect which style guide you should use. For example, humanities and literature students usually use MLA style, while social sciences usually use APA style. It’s important to know what’s typical in your discipline to choose the right guide.

Formatting Book Titles in MLA Style

Humanities and liberal arts disciplines use MLA writing rules. In MLA style, book titles are usually in italics like in APA style. But there can be variations in capitalization and punctuation. Let’s explore each aspect in detail with examples:

In MLA style, book titles are put in italics to make them stand out from the rest of the text.

Titles of shorter works, such as articles or chapters, are enclosed in quotation marks.

Example 1: Italicized Book Title

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby .

Example 2: Book Chapter (In Quotation Marks)

Smith, John. “The Art of Persuasion.” Essays on Rhetoric.

Capitalization

In MLA style, follows the title case. It means keep the first letter of each word capital. Capitalize articles, conjunctions, and prepositions only if they are the first or last words in title.

Example 3: Correct Capitalization

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.

Punctuation

In MLA style, there should be no special punctuation like colons or periods between the main title and any subtitles. However, if the book’s title includes a subtitle, a colon should separate it from the main title.

Example 4: Book Title with Subtitle

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success.

Edition and Volume Numbers

To refer to a certain book edition, add the edition number after the book title. If the book is part of a multi-volume work, indicate the volume number after the title as well.

Example 5: Edition and Volume Numbers

Johnson, Mary. Chemistry in Focus. 2nd ed.

Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations. Vol. 1.

Translated Titles

If the book you are citing is translated from another language, include the original title and the translator’s name in the citation.

Example 6: Translated Title

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Translated by David Wyllie.

It’s important to remember that MLA style is always changing and being updated. So always refer to the latest edition of the MLA Handbook or your institution’s writing guidelines.

Formatting Book Titles in APA Style

Usually the social sciences disciplines use APA (American Psychological Association) style. Let’s look at how you must consider capitalization, punctuation and italics in this writing style.

Just capitalize the first word of any subtitles and proper nouns.

All other words, such as articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (in, on, at), are in lowercase.

Example 1: 

“The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”

In APA style, book titles are italicized to distinguish them from the rest of the text.

Do not italicize titles of shorter works, such as articles or chapters. Just enclose them in quotation marks.

Example 2: Italics

Here’s an example of an italicized book title:

The Catcher in the Rye

In APA style, there should be a colon (:) between the main title and any subtitle.

When citing a book title within the text of your paper, use title case and italicize it.

When including book titles in your reference list, use sentence case and italicize it.

Example 3: Punctuation

Here’s an example of proper punctuation and citation within the text and reference list:

In-text citation

According to Smith (2019),  The Theory of Everything  provides an in-depth analysis of astrophysics.

Reference list citation

Smith, J. (2019).  the theory of everything . Publisher.

Include the edition number in parentheses right after the book title when a book has a specific edition.

If a book is part of a multi-volume work, you can also indicate the volume number after the title.

Example 4: Parenthesis

Here are examples of how to format book titles with edition and volume numbers:

Edition Number

Johnson, M. (2022). Chemistry in Focus (2nd ed.).

Volume Number

Smith, A. (2021). History of the United States (Vol. 3).

Include the translator’s name in square brackets if you cite a translated book. 

Example 5: Translated Thesis 

Here’s an example of how to format a translated book title:

Kundera, M. (1984). The Unbearable Lightness of Being [Original title: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí].

Translated by M. Henry.

Formatting Book Titles in Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style is mostly used in the humanities and social sciences disciplines. Chicago style follows two systems, namely Author-Date System and the notes and bibliography system. Let’s explore both of them.

Author-Date System

In the author-date system, you include:

  • In-text citations with the author’s last name
  • The publication year
  • A corresponding entry in the reference list

Italicization

In the author-date system, book titles are italicized. It makes them Distinguish from other elements in the citation.

Chicago style uses a title case for book titles in the author-date system. It means the first letter of the title, subtitles, and any major words are capitalized.

There should be a period at the end of the full book citation in the reference list.

Example 1: In-Text Citation

Example 2: Reference List Citation

Smith, John. 2019.  The Theory of Everything . Publisher.

Notes and Bibliography System

You use footnotes or endnotes in the notes and bibliography system for in-text citations and a bibliography for the full list of references.

Similar to the author-date system, book titles are italicized in the notes and bibliography system.

In the notes and bibliography system, the Chicago style uses headline-style capitalization for book titles. It means that the first letter of the first and last words of the title are capitalized.

Put a period at the end of each full bibliographic entry in the notes and bibliography system.

Example 3: Footnote/Endnote Citation

John Smith,  The Theory of Everything  (Publisher, 2019), 25.

Example 4: Bibliography Citation

Smith, John.  The Theory of Everything . Publisher, 2019.

You may include the edition number after the title, and for multi-volume works, the volume number after the title.

Example 5: Edition Number

Johnson, Mary.  Chemistry in Focus . 2nd ed.

Example 6: Volume Number

Smith, Adam.  The Wealth of Nations . Vol. 1.

For translated works, include the original title and the translator’s name in the citation.

Example 7: Translated Title

Kafka, Franz.  The Metamorphosis . Translated by David Wyllie.

Citation of Book Titles in Other Situations

Let’s highlight some unusual circumstances of including a title of book in essay. Starting with:

Book titles within quotations

If you’re citing a direct quote from a book in your essay, you may need to put the book title in quotes. Generally, you should use double quotation marks for this.

For example:

According to Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

In the novel 1984, George Orwell explores the theme of government surveillance through the famous line, “Big Brother is watching you.”

By using double quotation marks, you indicate that the words within the quotation marks are taken directly from the book.

Book Titles in Footnotes or Endnotes

In academic writing, footnotes or endnotes can be added to give extra info or credits. When including book titles, how you format them depends on the citation style you’re using.

In Chicago Style, book titles in footnotes or endnotes should usually be italicized or in quotation marks.

For Example:

Jane Austen,  Pride and Prejudice  (New York: Penguin Classics, 2002), 45.

Harper Lee,  To Kill a Mockingbird , (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006), 77.

Handling Foreign language book titles

Follow these rules for citing a book in a foreign language. You should keep the original language title, especially if it’s a popular work.

Italicize the foreign language book title following the same guidelines as you would for an English book title. Include a translation in parentheses if necessary.

Use the original foreign language title in sentence case without italics or quotation marks. Include a translation in brackets if needed.

Italicize or use quotation marks for foreign language book titles, following the same guidelines as you would for an English book title. Include a translation if required.

Special Cases

In certain situations, you might need to format book titles differently. Like if you’re talking about a poem or play. These types of works have their own rules for formatting titles. Let’s get to know them briefly. 

Typically, you’d put poem titles in quotation marks and longer pieces of poetry, like epics, in italics. It’s worth checking the style guide you’re using, though, since the rules can vary.

You’ll usually see the title written in italics when it comes to plays. The names of characters or speakers within the play are usually written with a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, without quotation marks.

Best Practices for Including Book Titles in Essays

Double-check formatting guidelines.

It’s super important to double-check the formatting rules for book titles when writing an essay since each style guide has its own rules. You need to make sure you’re following them properly.

Proofreading for Accuracy and Consistency

Look out for mistakes in how you’ve done the capitals, italics, and quotes. Double-check any extra rules that might apply to foreign language books, poems, plays, and other special cases.

Seek Assistance from Style Guides or Writing Resources

It’s a good idea to get help from style guides or writing tools when you are stuck with citations. You can also buy cheap essay from a well-reputed writing services provider.

It’s super important to get book titles in essays right. Not just for clarity but also to show you’re a pro. Ensure that you stick to the accurate style guide. It could be MLA, APA, or Chicago. Plus, there are special rules for poems and more.

Furthermore, if you need a professional to help you out with citations, do count on the expertise of  our writers . They are always available to get you out of your troubles of how to write book titles in essays.

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what do you do to book titles in an essay

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  • Specific Rules for Authors & Titles

APA Style - 7th edition: Specific Rules for Authors & Titles

  • Basic Information

Rules for Writing Author and Editor Information

Rules for writing titles.

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There are certain things to keep in mind when writing the author's name according to APA style. Authors may be individual people, multiple people, groups (institutions or organizations), or a combination of people and groups. 

  • You must include all the authors up to 20 for individual items. For example, if you are using an article that has 19 authors you must list them all out on your reference page. 
  • Use initials for the first and middle names of authors. Use one space between initials.
  • All names are inverted (last name, first initial).
  • Do not hyphenate a name unless it is hyphenated on the item.
  • Separate the author's names with a comma and use the ampersand symbol "&"  before the last author listed.
  • Spell out the name of any organization that is listed as an author.
  • If there is no author listed, the item title moves in front of the publication date and is used.

An item that you use may have an editor instead of an author or in the case of audiovisual materials a writer or director.

  • For editors follow the same rules above and put the abbreviation (Ed.) or (Eds.) behind the name(s). 
  • For audiovisual materials follow the same rules as above and put the specialized role (Writer) (Director) behind the name. 

Zhang, Y. H.  (one author)

Arnec, A., & Lavbic, D. (two authors)​

Kent State University (organization as author)

Barr, M. J. (Ed.). (1 editor)

Powell, R. R., & Westbrook, L. (Eds.). (2 editors)

here are certain things to keep in mind when writing a title according to APA style.

  • Book titles are italicized and written using sentence case (only the first word of a title, subtitle, or proper noun are capitalized).
  • Book chapter titles are written using sentence case and are not italicized.
  • Journal titles are italicized and written using title case (all the important words are capitalized).
  • Article titles are written using sentence case and are not italicized.
  • Webpages and websites are italicized and written using sentence case.

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (book title, American Psychological Association is a proper noun so it is capitalized)

Student perspective of plagiarism (book chapter title)

Internet plagiarism in higher education: Tendencies, trigging factors and reasons among teacher candidates (article title, Tendencies is the first word of a sub-title so it is capitalized)

Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education (journal title)

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Punctuation with Titles

Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook . For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook .

In a previous Ask the MLA post, we explained how to incorporate titles ending in question marks or exclamation points into works-cited-list entries . But how do you incorporate such titles into your prose? How do you handle titles ending in other punctuation marks? And what should you do about other matters of punctuation related to titles?

Titles Ending in Question Marks or Exclamation Points in Your Prose

At the MLA, we never insert a period after a title ending in a question mark or exclamation point, but we insert a comma if doing so makes a sentence easier to read—for example, when such a title is one item in a series or when the title is contained in a nonrestrictive clause:

“I just saw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , Oklahoma! , and Design for Living ,” Roland said.
The center hopes its 1992 theme, Explore New Worlds—Read!, will draw attention to geography.

But when possible, we prefer to reword:

The center hopes to draw attention to geography with its 1992 theme, Explore New Worlds—Read!

Titles That Need to Be Shortened 

When we need to shorten a really long title in a works-cited-list entry, we add an ellipsis after the first part of the title up to at least the first noun. If a work has an alternative title, we might include it. If a period is needed, we insert the period before the ellipsis and set the punctuation roman:

Bulwer, John.  Philocophus; or, The Deafe and Dumbe Mans Friend. . . .      Humphrey Mosely, 1648.

If a comma is needed, as it would be when the long title is the title of a container, we insert it after the ellipsis. We set the ellipsis and the comma roman:

Smith, Ann. Introduction.  Philocophus; or, The Deafe and Dumbe Mans Friend . . .  , Humphrey Mosely, 1648, pp. x-xxi.

In prose, we omit the ellipsis:

Philocophus; or, The Deafe and Dumbe Mans Friend  was written by John Bulwer.

Titles Ending in an Ellipsis or Dash

If the ellipsis is part of the title, we add the period or comma after the ellipsis. The ellipsis is set in italics if the title is italicized, but the additional punctuation is set roman:

One of the most popular comic films of the 1980s was Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally . . . . One of the most popular comic films of the 1980s was When Harry Met Sally . . . , directed by Rob Reiner. Work Cited Reiner, Rob, director. When Harry Met Sally . . . . MGM, 1989.

We follow the same principle if a title ends in a dash:

A well-known poem about death is Emily Dickinson’s “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—.” A well-known poem about death is “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—,” by Emily Dickinson. Work Cited Dickinson, Emily. “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—.” The Poems of Emily Dickinson , edited by R. W. Franklin, Harvard UP, 1999.

Titles and Subtitles

Section 1.2.1 of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook says, “Use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle, unless the title ends in a question mark or an exclamation point. Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle.”

The handbook provides the following examples:

Storytelling and Mythmaking: Images from Film and Literature
Whose Music? A Sociology of Musical Language

But sometimes titles are not straightforward. In such cases, we follow some additional rules.

For example, when a title is followed by two subtitles, we use two colons:

Finis Coronat Opus: A Curious Reciprocity: Shelley’s “When the Lamp Is Shattered”

When a period separates a title and a subtitle on the title page, we change the period to a colon. When a question mark, exclamation point, or dash separates a title and a subtitle on the title page, we leave the original mark:

On the title page: The East End. The Story of a Neighborhood
In your prose: The East End: The Story of a Neighborhood
Both on the title page and in your prose: What Do I Know? An Account of an Investigation

But if a title contains a title ending in a question mark or exclamation point, we add a colon:

Moby-Dick and Absalom, Absalom! : Two American Masterpieces

Here the exclamation point is part of the title Absalom, Absalom! , so a colon is needed to separate the title Moby-Dick and Absalom, Absalom! from the subtitle.

Double Titles

For an alternative or double title in English beginning with or , we follow the first example given in section 8.165 of The Chicago Manual of Style and punctuate as follows:

England’s Monitor; or, The History of the Separation (452)

But no semicolon is needed for a title in English that ends with a question mark or exclamation point:

“Getting Calliope through Graduate School? Can Chomsky Help? or, The Role of Linguistics in Graduate Education in Foreign Languages”

For double titles of foreign language publications, we follow the source.

Dates in Titles

Unless a date is part of a title’s syntax, we follow section 8.163 of Chicago and set it off with a comma:

Melodrama Unveiled: American Theater and Culture, 1800–1850 (451)

Serial Comma in Titles

Contrary to section 8.163 of Chicago , for English-language titles of books published in the United States, we add the serial comma before the conjunction preceding the final item in a series if the comma is missing. Otherwise, we follow the source. The following book was published by Verso in London, so the serial comma is not added:

Buelens, Geert. Everything to Nothing: The Poetry of the Great War, Revolution and the Transformation of Europe. Verso, 2015.

Works Cited

The Chicago Manual of Style . 16th ed., U of Chicago P, 2016.

MLA Handbook . 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

90 Comments

Omar 22 october 2017 at 07:10 am.

Dear Jennifer, I have a question regarding the use of semi-colons in the subtitle of report headlines. Specifically, I'd like to know whether or not the first word after the semi-colon should be capitalized. I know that the first word after the subtitle typically begins with a capital letter as per Chicago and AP rules, but the AP is silent on what to do when the subtitle is itself separated by a semi-colon. Is the below headline acceptable?

Hurricanes 2017: Galeforce winds batter UK; Flood warnings issued nationwide

Your e-mail address will not be published

Jennifer A. Rappaport 23 October 2017 AT 12:10 PM

Great question. MLA style, following Chicago , capitalizes the first letter of the first and last words of a title and the first letter of any other words in the title unless they are articles or prepositions, so in your example, we would capitalize not only "Flood" but also all the other words in the title: "Hurricanes 2017: Galeforce Winds Batter UK; Flood Warnings Issued Nationwide." (Note that "galeforce" is not in Webster's so if we were crafting this title we would style it "Gale-Force Winds," but if it were a published title, we would follow copy.)

Amy W 05 January 2018 AT 09:01 AM

What would you do if the title with a question mark was in quotes, rather than italicized? Would the comma go inside or outside the quotation mark? "...?," Or "...?",

Jennifer A. Rappaport 08 January 2018 AT 09:01 AM

The comma would be placed inside the quotation marks.

Colleen 24 April 2018 AT 02:04 PM

Where would the commas go if I listed multiple titles that had quotation marks? Ex. I read "Riding the Rails," "The Long Road to Oregon," and "Coming out West." Is that correct with the commas and period inside the quotation marks?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 24 April 2018 AT 08:04 PM

Yes, correct. Please see our related post for examples: style.mla.org/punctuation-and-quotation-marks/

Amy Nelson 26 January 2018 AT 05:01 PM

When the title of the work being cited in the WC list includes the title of another text (for example, the cited work is titled A Critical Edition of John Lydgate's _Life of Our Lady_, with the last four words in the title -- here set apart with underscores -- being the title of a long poem and thus italicized), should the secondary / interior title be italicized along with the main title, or should it be formatted in standard typeface in contrast with the main title's italics?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 31 January 2018 AT 09:01 AM

Thanks for your question. The answer is on p. 71 of the handbook (1.2.4 "Titles within Titles").

Patricia Bostian 20 February 2018 AT 12:02 PM

Can't find an answer for citing a title within a title when it comes at the end. This is for a citation: "An Overview of 'A Rose for Emily'." OR "An Overview of 'A Rose for Emily.'"

Jennifer A. Rappaport 21 February 2018 AT 12:02 PM

Great question. The period goes inside the single quotation mark.

Karen 12 March 2018 AT 12:03 AM

I have an issue with a document on line that I want to call attention to. This document has several sections or parts and each section or part has a name/header/sort of title. I need to mention the name/header/title of each section in this document. Should I put the names/headers/titles of each section in quotations or italics? How should I punctuate this? Also, to do certain things with this document, you have to navigate through it, for example: click "Save and finish later" or click "Next". Should these "Click" buttons be in quotation marks or italics as well? Thank you for your help.

Jennifer A. Rappaport 13 March 2018 AT 02:03 PM

Thanks for your question. We'll submit it to Ask the MLA.

Renee 15 March 2018 AT 10:03 PM

When citing an article title that contains periods, should the periods be omitted? For example: In the article "That's No Woman. That's My Wife.," the author states...

That's No Woman. That's My Wife. is the title, but the punctuation doesn't look correct. Thank you!

Jennifer A. Rappaport 16 March 2018 AT 07:03 AM

Good question. We'll submit it to Ask the MLA.

Frank 27 July 2018 AT 07:07 PM

Jennifer, thanks for this wonderful and useful piece. One issue I'm still confused about is how to handle the mid-sentence appearance of titles containing a single comma. (Some examples: Lust, Caution ; White Hunter, Black Heart ; New York, New York .

To consider the last example, I know that I would write a non-title version of the phrase as follows:

• I took a trip to New York, New York, and had a wonderful time.

But is this the correct way to place the title in the middle of a sentence?

• We watched the Scorsese film New York, New York and really enjoyed it.

Is no comma required at the end of the title to "close out" the comma in the middle?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 30 July 2018 AT 06:07 AM

Thanks for your question. Whereas a comma is needed before and after the state in formulations such as "New York, New York," when the city and state are used as the title of a work, no comma is needed following the name of the state, unless the grammar of the rest of the sentence requires it (After watching the movie New York, New York , we went out to dinner).

Alethia 14 August 2018 AT 03:08 PM

Is it common to place an additional comma between the year and time in a subtitle? i.e. meeting announcement August 21, 2018, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (EST)

Jennifer A. Rappaport 15 August 2018 AT 07:08 AM

Yes, a comma should generally separate a date from a time.

Cynthia Crosbie 30 August 2018 AT 12:08 AM

How would you punctuate this sermon title: “Building Wisely,” Part 1 Should Part 1 be written as part of the title? italicized? in parentheses? Should Part 1 be left off and only Part 2 and Part 3 written?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 03 September 2018 AT 06:09 PM

Thanks for your question. In MLA style, "part 1" would be included in the "Number" slot on the MLA format template:

https://style.mla.org/works-cited-a-quick-guide/

ML Corwin 08 November 2018 AT 04:11 PM

The author of this book has put colons after the chapter numbers followed by the chapter title. Three chapters are each about one of three "Power Blockers." How to punctuate those? Which of two styles is preferable? Use a second colon or not?

Chapter 6: Power Blocker #3 Misplaced Blame

Chapter 6: Power Blocker #3: Misplaced Blame

Jennifer A. Rappaport 09 November 2018 AT 09:11 AM

There's no hard-and-fast rule about how to style chapter numbers before titles, but in a table of contents, I would recommend the following in the example you've sent:

Chapter 6. Power Blocker #3: Misplaced Blame

Andrew Johnston 29 November 2018 AT 02:11 PM

My question concerns the title of an academic publication.

In my situation, the title concludes with a question and the subtitle gives further clarification.

How can I distinguish the title from the subtitle?

For example:

Competition Law within the European Union is Functioning Just Fine, but do fines cut it?: An exploration of the efficacy of corporate fines in achieving the goals of EU Competition Law, and the potential benefits of reform.

Competition Law within the European Union is Functioning Just Fine, but do fines cut it? An exploration of the efficacy of corporate fines in achieving the goals of EU Competition Law, and the potential benefits of reform.

I look forward to having this one resolved.

Jennifer A. Rappaport 30 November 2018 AT 08:11 AM

Thanks for your question. The question mark separates the title from the subtitle.

Competition Law within the European Union Is Functioning Just Fine, but Do Fines Cut It? An Exploration of the Efficacy of Corporate Fines in Achieving the Goals of EU Competition Law, and the Potential Benefits of Reform.

Sue 05 December 2018 AT 05:12 AM

Hi there, We are trying to figure out how to punctuate a role title. For example,

You are invited to be an Organization Lead at xyz company.

Should 'Organization Lead' have quotation marks like "Organization Lead" or single quotations or none at all?

And if a course title, do I add 'xx' or "xx" as well in a phrase? For example, Access "Digital Marketing" today.

Thank you for your help!

Jennifer A. Rappaport 05 December 2018 AT 07:12 AM

Thanks for your question. In MLA style, quotation marks are not used around professional titles or titles of courses. We also lowercase professional titles: organization lead.

Stevie D 11 December 2018 AT 04:12 PM

When using a short story title within a paper's title, and before a subtitle, where does the colon belong?

"A Rose for Emily:" Northern Progress Meets Southern Tradition or "A Rose for Emily": Northern Progress Meets Southern Tradition

Thanks for your help!

Jennifer A. Rappaport 11 December 2018 AT 07:12 PM

The colon goes after the title in quotation marks:

“A Rose for Emily”: Northern Progress Meets Southern Tradition

Shari 14 January 2019 AT 10:01 PM

Thank you so much for your help Jennifer, but what if the title is an analysis of a book. For example, about animals in Harry Potter?

Can I write:

Anthropomorphisation and Animal representation: A post humanistic analysis of Harry Potter.

Is this the right format for MLA?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 15 January 2019 AT 06:01 AM

Thanks for your question. The correct styling in MLA format would be

Anthropomorphization and Animal Representation: A Posthumanistic Analysis of the Harry Potter Books (since Harry Potter is the name of a series of books, not the name of a particular book).

Christine Dushack 22 January 2019 AT 12:01 PM

For the following, does the period go inside the quotation marks or outside? It is a title of a paper.

For questions 3-10, refer to "The Beetle Juice". Or For questions 3-10, refer to "The Beetle Juice."

Jennifer A. Rappaport 22 January 2019 AT 12:01 PM

Thanks for your question. See our answer here:

https://style.mla.org/punctuation-and-quotation-marks/

Mark 02 February 2019 AT 10:02 AM

While I understand how to punctuate a question, I'm a bit confuse as to the proper rule regarding titles that do not indicate it's a question but rather an answer.

For example, there are plenty of "how to" posts that do not have any punctation in the title.

How to prepare for a snowstorm

How do I prepare for a snowstorm?

I would think the proper way is ...

How to prepare for a snowstorm. (with a period)

But I'm finding several major newspapers and magazines do not punctuate these titles with a period. It seems to me it creates a conflict with citing sources using proper punctuations. Can you clarify how MLA handles this?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 03 February 2019 AT 08:02 AM

Thanks for your question. We would style the title as follows:

How to Prepare for a Snowstorm

Calla Andrews 26 March 2019 AT 02:03 PM

Does one need a period after a title ending with a question mark when the title is the end of the sentence? For example: We were analyzing the short story "Who's Afraid of the Storm?" I think that's enough punctuation, but should there be a period after the quotes? With a non-question mark title, the period for the end of the sentence would go inside the quotes.

Jennifer A. Rappaport 26 March 2019 AT 04:03 PM

A question mark is indeed enough punctuation in your example. There should be no period after the closing quotation mark.

Carly Bondár 02 April 2019 AT 01:04 PM

Hi there. I have a question about listing book titles that have commas in their titles. For example, I want to list four book titles in a single sentence, but two of the books have commas in the titles. How do I write out the list so as to be clear about which commas are part of the titles and which are separating items in a list? Do I use semicolons? It doesn't look right. As of now the only thing distinguishing the commas in the titles from the commas used as list separators is that the former are italicized and the latter are not. I just worry this isn't clear enough when the font is small.

Jennifer A. Rappaport 03 April 2019 AT 07:04 AM

Great question, Carly. You have it exactly right: the commas between the titles are not italicized, so those commas separate one title from another.

Eitan 03 July 2019 AT 07:07 PM

In my academic field, I often see titles that include some made-up system name, a colon, and a short description of the system. Something like: "Gizmo: a great new way to do things". Is there a name or term for the first word in this title, the system name? It's clearly not the subtitle or the title, but is there anything else I can call it?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 15 July 2019 AT 12:07 PM

In this case, "Gizmo" is the title, and "A Great New Way to Do Things" is the subtitle.

Jesse P 14 July 2019 AT 07:07 PM

Hi, I'm wondering what to do when a question inside quotation marks is the first half of a title (i.e. followed by a subtitle). I see that it says here, “Use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle, unless the title ends in a question mark or an exclamation point. Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle.” However, does that still hold true when the title is in quotation marks? In that case might the colon be added back (since technically the quotation mark would make for a barrier between the question mark and the colon so they wouldn't be directly in a row)? Or still no? For example: "A Man for All Seasons?" Reflections on John Wayne OR "A Man for All Seasons?": Reflections on John Wayne

Jennifer A. Rappaport 15 July 2019 AT 01:07 PM

We retain the colon:

"A Man for All Seasons?": Reflections on John Wayne

David Charles Burt 29 July 2019 AT 03:07 PM

I need advice on how to use commas in a title of a piece I've written for an American publication. The title is: From Brass Pins Pistols and Swords to Warships.

How are the commas to be placed in this title ? David Burt, England.

Izabel 02 December 2019 AT 11:12 PM

Hi! I'm an artist (a painter) and sometimes I have two names, or titles, for my paintings. How to write it correctly? Usually I just place it in quotation, for example: "The painting one", or "The painting two". I'm originally from Russia, and we have these punctuation rules (with comma before 'or' with double titles), but I doubt it is correct in English. Please, help.

Jennifer A. Rappaport 03 December 2019 AT 07:12 AM

Thanks for your question. We also have rules in English for punctuating double titles. See the section "Double Titles" above.

Zaine Pittman 10 December 2019 AT 04:12 PM

Hello, I have a question. What if there is a book with a title that has the article "The" in it. When you write it on a document or something, would you put the article after the full title, and separate the article and end of the title with a comma? for example, "Maze of Bones, The"?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 11 December 2019 AT 07:12 AM

Thanks for your question. In prose and works-cited-lists, the article should remain at the start of the title, but in an index, it would likely be listed as Maze of Bones, The.

Kara Wood 09 January 2020 AT 07:01 PM

I have a list of newspaper article titles that are being analyzed by some high school students; naturally, one of the article titles ends with a question mark. What is MLA's rule on this?

Here's the opening to his précis:

In his 2019 articles “Sea Level Rise Could Claim Mar-a-Lago — and Trump’s empire,” “U.S. Women’s Soccer Players Shouldn’t be Paid as Much as Men. They Should Get More.,” and “What Can a Black Person do to Keep from Getting Killed by Police in this Country?” American columnist Eugene Robinson unabashedly addresses various controversial topics, ranging from the everyday lunch conversation starter, climate change, to the heated, yet popular political campaign platforms of gender and racial discrimination in order to . . .

Jennifer A. Rappaport 15 January 2020 AT 07:01 AM

Thanks for your question. We would insert a comma between the question mark and the closing quotation mark because it makes the sentence easier to read.

Reb 03 March 2020 AT 04:03 PM

If a book title within an article title is not italicized should this be corrected in the citation?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 04 March 2020 AT 06:03 AM

Thanks for your question. See section 1.2.4 of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook .

christina 03 March 2020 AT 07:03 PM

Is it correct if I were to have my title with a colon and a question mark? If so, do I add a space between?

Thanks for your question. A colon and a question mark should not generally appear next to each other in a title. So, for instance, if a title ends in a question mark and the title is followed by a subtitle, do not add a colon between the title and the subtitle. See the example above: Whose Music? A Sociology of Musical Language .

Reb 04 March 2020 AT 11:03 AM

Thanks but 1.2.4 does not address my question. Yes, a book title within a journal article title should be italicized. But if the book title is NOT italicized in the actual journal article, do I make that correction in my works cited page?

Jennifer A. Rappaport 05 March 2020 AT 07:03 AM

Thanks for the clarification. If the book title is not italicized in the journal article, do not italicize it. Copy the article title as it appears in the source.

Reb 05 March 2020 AT 05:03 PM

Jeff dailey 17 april 2020 at 08:04 am.

I want to title a play with a long title and need your thoughts on both my chosen punctuation and capitalization and thank you. Here is my title: An Angel with Flowers, Broadway Bound in Twenty-Seventeen, B.C. [Before COVID-19]

Jennifer A. Rappaport 20 April 2020 AT 06:04 AM

Thanks for your question. You might consider An Angel with Flowers: Broadway-Bound in 2017 BC (before COVID-19)

Julie 27 April 2020 AT 11:04 AM

Should university course titles be punctuated if they are mentioned in a letter?

For example: "I look Introduction to Film last spring, and it helped me understand movies."

Thank you for such a helpful forum!

Jennifer A. Rappaport 28 April 2020 AT 07:04 AM

Thanks for your question. In MLA style, course titles are set roman without quotation marks, so your example is correct.

Ricardo Bravo 29 June 2020 AT 10:06 AM

Hi There, Names of restaurants, theaters should be in italic as well? Best and thanks!

Jennifer A. Rappaport 29 June 2020 AT 03:06 PM

Thanks for your question. Names of restaurants and theaters should be styled roman without quotation marks.

Mark 22 August 2020 AT 10:08 AM

Good Day Jennifer, is it a grammer law that you Must put a question mark at the end of your title if the title is a question...I"m just trying to find out the Pros and Con"s and the benefits of using the question mark in this type title.

Jennifer A. Rappaport 29 August 2020 AT 08:08 AM

Thanks for your comment. It's probably a good idea to include a question mark if you are creating a title that is a question.

Valerie Exar 06 October 2020 AT 09:10 AM

Hello, For the title of a paper I'm writing:

A Comparison of Water Supply in Houston, TX and Baltimore, MD

Do I put a comma after TX, as I would insert within the body of the paper? (Same question would apply if I spelled out the state names)

Jennifer A. Rappaport 07 October 2020 AT 07:10 AM

Thanks for your question. Yes, there should be a comma after "TX" or after "Texas."

Madeline Patrick 14 October 2020 AT 03:10 PM

Hello, Jennifer A. Rappaport. As a high school junior enrolled in a college class, I want to, well, I want to show off to my classmates. I mustn't have errors! After some reading online, I have received mixed answers on whether or not I can put a period at the end of a précis title for emphasis. Could you help me?

With many thank yous, Madeline A. Patrick

Jennifer A. Rappaport 15 October 2020 AT 08:10 AM

Thanks for your question. A title should not end in a period.

Samantha Hanna 10 December 2020 AT 11:12 AM

What would you put after by in the title?

By: someone? A

By; someone? B

By, someone? C

Jennifer A. Rappaport 10 December 2020 AT 11:12 AM

Thanks for your question. Are you referring to the byline rather than the title? If so, there should be no punctuation between "by" and the author's name.

Patrick Love 23 February 2021 AT 12:02 PM

Thank you for your post. I have a question concerning how to punctuate a short story title, but I am trying to add an apostrophe "s" to the title. I am trying to make this sentence: "The Necklace's" ending is an example of situational irony because ...

So I am wondering if it is correct to add the apostrophe "s" inside of the quotation marks or should it be added outside of the quotation marks?

Thank you for your time, Patrick

C. Barney Latimer 09 March 2021 AT 10:03 AM

The apostrophe and "s" go after the title’s closing quotation mark (“The Necklace”’s). However, an easier and more readable solution would be to reword the sentence to avoid this awkward use of the possessive: The ending of “The Necklace” is an example of situational irony because. . . .

Judy Lee 06 May 2021 AT 09:05 AM

I think a period is needed at the end of the following sentence: The peddler went up, took out a scroll, and showed him the verse “Who is the man who desires life […]?” (Psalms 34:13). What say you? Thanks.

Chris Davis 19 May 2021 AT 02:05 PM

How do you punctuate a title and subtitle that are BOTH questions?

A Water-Proof Phone?: Is There a Market for Water Resistant Smartphones? OR A Water-Proof Phone? Is There a Market for Water Resistant Smartphones?

C. Barney Latimer 25 May 2021 AT 04:05 PM

When the main title of a work ends in a question mark or exclamation point, no colon precedes the subtitle, even if the subtitle also ends in a question mark or exclamation point. The correct format for your example is therefore “A Waterproof Phone? Is There a Market for Water-Resistant Smartphones?” Note that no period follows the question mark at the end of the subtitle when the title appears at the end of the sentence. However, if a title ending in a question mark appears in the middle of a sentence, a comma may be used if it makes the sentence easier to read, as in this example: “After reading ‘A Waterproof Phone? Is There a Market for Water-Resistant Smartphones?,’ I accidentally dropped my smartphone in the bath.”

W. 16 October 2021 AT 01:10 PM

If the title of a work appears at the end of a sentence, where does the period go? before or after the quotations marks for the work? B) Aesop uses allegory and satire to expose humanity’s ego in his fable, “The Fox and the Grapes”. or B) Aesop uses allegory and satire to expose humanity’s ego in his fable, “The Fox and the Grapes.”

Wyatt F. 18 November 2021 AT 09:11 AM

How would you punctuate a title that exclaims itself?

Ammy 23 November 2021 AT 09:11 AM

How the author can enter the number/part of the paper in the title of their essay/monograph/article for publication in a journal. The MLA Template shows the sequence of writing the numbering when quoting/referring someone's work; but it does not answer the question of how the author should compose their title correctly when the work is divided into parts. For example:

1// Short Title: A Long Subheading Containing Ten Words—Paper 1 of (a/the?) Historical Jesus Review Series

2// Short Title: A Long Subheading Containing Ten Words Part 2 of Historical Jesus Review Series /as second line/

3// Short Title: A Long Subheading Containing Ten Words. Part 3 of Historical Jesus Review Series

4//Short Title: A Very Long Subheading Containing Fourteen Words. I Short Title: A Very Long Subheading Containing Fourteen Words. II

How it is advisable to design the numbering itself: Article 1, Essay 2, Part 3, IV, or just Paper 5?

The question is fundamental and will help many people who divide their articles into parts. Thank you for your comprehensive responsiveness.

Christin Bonin 17 January 2022 AT 08:01 AM

I am about to publish my dissertation. The Title is: The Broadway Belt The Musical Diva and her Belt Voice from Technical, Ethnic, and Feminist Perspectives Now my big question: Oxford Comma after Ethnic/before and ... or not?

Aliaa Bondok 09 February 2022 AT 08:02 PM

Hello! Unfortunately, I could not find an answer to my question in the MLA guide, so here is it: How do I punctuate a certain quote take from a novel when I include this quote in a title, heading, or sub-heading? Should I capitalize the words of the quote or just copy them as they are in the novel? Example: the original quote reads: “a future of poverty and despondency” I want to include it in a subheading a) Escaping “a future of poverty and despondency” b) Escaping "a Future of Poverty and Despondency" Which version is correct, (a) or (b)?

Thanks in advance!

Pallavi 20 April 2022 AT 12:04 PM

Is this title correct ?

Prone to dominance and criminality ? : The scientist figure in selected films

Russ 21 April 2022 AT 01:04 PM

My book title contains a colon, but I am told that the title, when placed on the book cover, binding and title page, should be written without the colon. I am confused!

Jadyn 03 October 2022 AT 06:10 PM

If the title is inside quotation marks at the end of a sentence (Example: This is discussed in the book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success") Does the period go inside or outside the quotation?

Laura Kiernan 24 October 2022 AT 04:10 PM

Thanks for your question. In MLA style, titles of books are italicized, so, in the example you supplied, you wouldn't surround Mindset: The New Psychology of Success in quotation marks. For guidance on punctuation around titles, see section 2.105 of the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook .

Nour 30 October 2022 AT 05:10 PM

Hi i have a question regarding article titles is it : Study Suggests Video Games Can Help Mental Health. or Study Suggests Video Games Can Help Mental Health with ponctuation or without ponctuation ??

Kristina 03 October 2023 AT 01:10 PM

Hi there, I'm working on a subtitle for my children's book. Title: A children's picture book about monsters (or perhaps not-so-scary monsters) I would use caps, but I'm not exactly certain which words wouldn't be capitalized other than or? I'm wondering if you can use parenthesis in a book subtitle? Originally I was thinking about using the line: A children's picture book about scary monsters (or ARE they)? Again, I'm not sure about the parenthesis or ending a book subtitle with a question mark. I've seen one so far and they placed the question mark inside the parenthesis and didn't have any punctuation after the parenthesis. Just wanted to get your advice. Thanks so much!

Uma Maheswari 08 November 2023 AT 09:11 PM

I want to frame a question in MLA style. Which one is correct regarding the question mark at the end? What is the significance of the title of the poem "An African Elegy"? What is the significance of the title of the poem "An African Elegy?" Note: The title of the poem does not have a question mark. It is mine. Thank you

Laura Kiernan 09 November 2023 AT 04:11 PM

Thank you for your question about MLA style. For guidance, see section 6.53 of the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook .

Emma 17 February 2024 AT 09:02 AM

In my list of works cited, titles of self-contained sources need to be italized, now my question is, does the period right after it have to be italized as well or just the title? Thank you!

Noir 27 March 2024 AT 07:03 PM

Can I include a period at the end of a sentence for a title?

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Formatting Titles in Essays

2-minute read

  • 8th May 2018

Handling your own headings is one thing, but how should you write the titles of other works? You need to mark them out somehow, and you have two standard options: italics or quote marks.

This is especially important in academic writing , as you’ll often have to discuss books and papers written by other people. Here, then, are some guidelines you should follow when formatting titles.

When to Use Italics

You can often spot a title from the capitalisation , but we still format titles to distinguish between different types of source. Titles of longer sources, for example, typically use italics:

what do you do to book titles in an essay

Here, Kerrang! is italicised because it is the title of a magazine (i.e. a standalone work that is not one part of a larger whole). Other publications and productions that this applies to include:

  • Academic journals
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Websites and blogs
  • Films and TV shows
  • Radio programmes
  • Plays and other stage shows
  • Book-length poems
  • Paintings and other works of art
  • Music albums

The key here, then, is that italics are used for longer published works .

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When to Use Quote Marks

We use quote marks for the title of anything that doesn’t fit in the list above. Usually, this will be something that is part of a more substantial publication, such as an article from a magazine:

what do you do to book titles in an essay

In this case, we see both the magazine title and an article title. Using italics on the former and quote marks on the latter makes it immediately obvious which is which. Other cases where quote marks are required include:

  • Chapters from books
  • Academic papers and journal articles
  • Articles from newspapers and magazines
  • Single pages from a website or posts from a blog
  • Individual poems and short stories
  • Single episodes of a TV series
  • Single poems from a collection
  • Songs and other short recordings

In this case, the key is that quote marks are used for shorter works . However, quote marks are also used for unpublished works regardless of length (e.g. a draft manuscript or a PhD dissertation).

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Reference List: Basic Rules

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This resourse, revised according to the 7 th  edition APA Publication Manual, offers basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper. Most sources follow fairly straightforward rules. However, because sources obtained from academic journals  carry special weight in research writing, these sources are subject to special rules . Thus, this page presents basic guidelines for citing academic journals separate from its "ordinary" basic guidelines. This distinction is made clear below.

Note:  Because the information on this page pertains to virtually all citations, we've highlighted one important difference between APA 6 and APA 7 with an underlined note written in red.  For more information, please consult the   Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , (7 th  ed.).

Formatting a Reference List

Your reference list should appear at the end of your paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text.

Your references should begin on a new page separate from the text of the essay; label this page "References" in bold, centered at the top of the page (do NOT underline or use quotation marks for the title). All text should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay.

Basic Rules for Most Sources

  • All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
  • All authors' names should be inverted (i.e., last names should be provided first).
  • For example, the reference entry for a source written by Jane Marie Smith would begin with "Smith, J. M."
  • If a middle name isn't available, just initialize the author's first name: "Smith, J."
  • Give the last name and first/middle initials for all authors of a particular work up to and including 20 authors ( this is a new rule, as APA 6 only required the first six authors ). Separate each author’s initials from the next author in the list with a comma. Use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name. If there are 21 or more authors, use an ellipsis (but no ampersand) after the 19th author, and then add the final author’s name.
  • Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
  • For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
  • Note again that the titles of academic journals are subject to special rules. See section below.
  • Italicize titles of longer works (e.g., books, edited collections, names of newspapers, and so on).
  • Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as chapters in books or essays in edited collections.

Basic Rules for Articles in Academic Journals

  • Present journal titles in full.
  • Italicize journal titles.
  • For example, you should use  PhiloSOPHIA  instead of  Philosophia,  or  Past & Present   instead of  Past and Present.
  • This distinction is based on the type of source being cited. Academic journal titles have all major words capitalized, while other sources' titles do not.
  • Capitalize   the first word of the titles and subtitles of   journal articles , as well as the   first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and   any proper nouns .
  • Do not italicize or underline the article title.
  • Deep blue: The mysteries of the Marianas Trench.
  • Oceanographic Study: A Peer-Reviewed Publication

Please note:  While the APA manual provides examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not cover all conceivable sources. If you must cite a source that APA does not address, the APA suggests finding an example that is similar to your source and using that format. For more information, see page 282 of the   Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7 th  ed.

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How to Title an Argumentative Essay

November 17, 2023

Identifying the Purpose of the Essay

Before you can create a compelling title for your argumentative essay, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of its purpose. Is your goal to persuade readers to adopt a certain viewpoint, criticize an existing argument, or propose a solution to a problem? Determining the purpose will help you in crafting a title that aligns with your intentions.

The purpose of your essay will guide the tone, language, and overall approach you take. Are you aiming to be informative, provocative, or authoritative? Identifying the purpose will also help you in selecting the most suitable words and phrases to convey your message effectively. By defining the purpose upfront, you can develop a concise and powerful title that grabs readers’ attention and gives them a glimpse of your argumentative stance.

Analyzing the Target Audience

To create an impactful title for your argumentative essay, it is essential to have a deep understanding of your target audience. Consider their interests, knowledge level, beliefs, and values. By analyzing the target audience, you can tailor the title in a way that resonates with them and captures their attention. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Knowledge level: Are your readers familiar with the topic, or is it relatively new to them? This will determine whether you need to use technical terms or simplify the language in the title.
  • Demographics: Consider the age, education level, and cultural background of your audience. This information can help you choose the right tone and style for the title.
  • Values and beliefs: What are the prevailing beliefs or opinions of your target audience regarding the subject? Craft a title that connects with their existing viewpoint or challenges it in a thought-provoking manner.
  • Emotional appeal: Identify the emotions you want to evoke in your readers — curiosity, surprise, concern, or a desire for change. Incorporating emotional triggers in the title can generate interest and engagement.
  • Priorities and interests: Determine the key concerns or priorities of your audience related to the topic. Highlighting these aspects in the title will grab their attention and make your essay more relevant to their interests.

Analyzing your target audience allows you to tailor your title to their specific needs, making it more compelling and effective in capturing their attention and sparking their interest in your argumentative essay.

Strategies for Creating an Effective Title

Crafting an effective title for your argumentative essay is crucial to grab readers’ attention and convey the essence of your argument. Here are some strategies to consider when creating your title:

  • Be concise and clear: Keep your title brief and to the point, avoiding any unnecessary words or phrases. Aim for clarity so that readers can quickly understand the main focus of your essay.
  • Be specific: Instead of using generic terms, be specific in your title to give readers a clear idea of what your essay is about. Specific titles tend to be more attention-grabbing and engaging.
  • Use compelling language: Capture readers’ interest by using powerful and persuasive language in your title. Strong verbs, impactful adjectives, or intriguing phrases can help make your title more enticing.
  • Consider a question or a statement: Pose a thought-provoking question or make a bold statement in your title to pique readers’ curiosity and encourage them to delve into your argumentative essay.
  • Use a unique angle: Stand out from the crowd by approaching your title from a unique angle. Find a fresh perspective or highlight an unusual aspect of your argument to intrigue your audience.

By implementing these strategies, you can create an effective title that not only accurately represents your argumentative essay but also captures readers’ attention and compels them to explore your ideas further.

Using Keywords and Key Phrases

Including relevant keywords and key phrases in your title can help increase your argumentative essay’s visibility and attract readers who are interested in its topic. Begin by considering the words or phrases that are central to your argument. These could be technical terms, concepts, or keywords that you expect readers to search for.

Once you have identified these keywords and phrases, you can then experiment with different combinations until you find a title that accurately represents your argument while also utilizing these terms. Keep in mind that the goal is not to stuff as many keywords as possible into your title, but to use them in a way that is natural and helps communicate the essence of your essay’s argument.

Using keywords and key phrases can also help readers quickly recognize what your essay is about, making it more likely for them to click on and read further. Incorporating them into your title can help boost your essay’s online visibility and attract the right audience to your argumentative essay.

Focusing on Clarity and Conciseness

When creating a title for your argumentative essay, it is vital to prioritize clarity and conciseness. Your title should immediately convey the main idea of your essay without causing confusion or leaving room for misinterpretation. Here are some tips to ensure clarity and conciseness in your title:

  • Avoid ambiguity: Make sure your title is specific and unambiguous, leaving no room for multiple interpretations. Ambiguous titles can confuse readers and diminish their interest.
  • Cut out unnecessary words: Keep your title concise by eliminating any unnecessary words. Each word should serve a purpose in conveying your argument, and brevity helps to maintain reader engagement.
  • Use straightforward language: Use clear and accessible language in your title, ensuring that it is easily understood by a wide range of readers. Avoid jargon or technical terms that might alienate or confuse your audience.
  • Organize the title effectively: Structure your title in a way that clearly presents the main focus or argument of your essay. Use keywords or key phrases strategically to capture the essence of your argument.
  • Proofread and revise: After crafting a draft title, review and revise it to ensure clarity and conciseness. Proofreading helps to identify any potential confusion, ambiguity, or redundancy that could be eliminated.

By focusing on clarity and conciseness, your title will effectively communicate the main idea of your argumentative essay, intrigue readers, and encourage them to explore your content further.

Highlighting the Argumentative Nature of the Essay

When titling your argumentative essay, it is essential to emphasize its argumentative nature in order to set clear expectations for readers. By incorporating the keyword “title an argumentative essay” into your title, you can effectively convey the purpose and nature of your essay. Here are some strategies to highlight the argumentative aspect:

  • Include words like “debate,” “persuasion,” or “controversy” to signal that your essay presents differing viewpoints and aims to persuade readers.
  • Use strong and assertive language that showcases the clash of ideas inherent in an argumentative essay. Words like “challenging,” “contradictory,” or “disputable” can help emphasize the opposing viewpoints central to your argument.
  • Reflect the topic and stance: Incorporate words that clearly represent the topic of your essay. For instance, if your essay argues for stricter gun control laws, consider using phrases like “advocating for change” or “evaluating gun policy.”
  • Consider using a question format: Pose an intriguing question that highlights the contentious nature of your argument. This can spark curiosity and engage readers from the outset.

By selecting a title that highlights the argumentative nature of your essay, while incorporating the keyword “title an argumentative essay,” you can capture readers’ attention and convey the persuasive and contentious essence of your writing.

Averting Misleading Titles

When crafting a title for your argumentative essay, it is crucial to avoid misleading titles that may give readers a false impression of your essay’s content. Misleading titles can lead to confusion, disappointment, and a lack of trust from your audience. Here are some tips to avoid misleading titles:

  • Stay true to your argument: Ensure that your title accurately reflects the main argument of your essay. Don’t exaggerate or make claims that are not supported by your content.
  • Avoid clickbait tactics: While it may be tempting to use sensational or exaggerated phrases to attract attention, it is essential to maintain integrity in your title. Misleading readers for the sake of gaining clicks will harm your credibility.
  • Be specific and precise: Clearly convey the core argument and scope of your essay in the title. This will help readers understand what they can expect from your essay and avoid any misconceptions.
  • Consider the tone: The tone of your title should align with the tone of your essay. If your essay takes a serious and analytical approach, a title with a lighthearted or sensational tone may mislead readers.

By being honest, specific, and precise in your title, you can ensure that it accurately represents your argumentative essay’s content and avoids misleading your audience. This will not only cultivate trust but also attract the right readers who are genuinely interested in engaging with your argument.

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

    As a general rule, you should set titles of longer works in italics, and titles of shorter works go in quotation marks. Longer works include books, journals, TV shows, albums, plays, etc. Here's an example of a book mention: Sense and Sensibility, published in 1811, was Jane Austen's first novel. Shorter works include poems, articles ...

  2. How to Write a Book Title in Essay [Examples]

    Use capital letters to write the title of the novel. For example, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Use italics and 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). You should use quotation marks when writing headings of short ...

  3. How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: Rules and Tips

    Capitalize the first word of titles of books in papers, the first word after a colon, and all major words. Avoid capitalizing minor words (e.g., articles, prepositions, conjunctions) unless they are the first word of the name or longer than four letters. Always place the book title after the author's name.

  4. 4 Ways to Write a Book Name in an Essay

    For example, you would write the name of William Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom! with both the comma and the exclamation point in italics. 4. Highlight the book name. Hover your cursor at the beginning of the book name and left click your mouse. Hold the key down and drag your cursor over the title of the book.

  5. MLA Titles

    Use quotation marks around the title if it is part of a larger work (e.g. a chapter of a book, an article in a journal, or a page on a website). All major words in a title are capitalized. The same format is used in the Works Cited list and in the text itself. When you use the Scribbr MLA Citation Generator, the correct formatting and ...

  6. How to Write a Book Title in an Essay (MLA, APA etc.)

    Heart of Darkness ). Place the name of a single chapter in quote marks, instead ("The Great Towns" from Condition of the Working Class in England by Friedrich Engels). APA. Italicize the book title. Capitalize the first letter, the first letter of a subtitle, and proper nouns.

  7. How To Write Book Titles The Proper Way: A Complete Guide For Writers

    The answer is: in this case, yes. In other cases, sometimes. It's really not as confusing as it seems. When you are talking about a book series but don't want or need to include the complete series titles for the purposes of your work, you only have to put words in italics that also appear in the book titles. So, because Harry Potter is ...

  8. How to Write Book Titles in Essays: APA, MLA, Chicago Styles

    Do you italicize book titles? Yes, you put book titles in italics. Please italicize long and stand-alone works: books, movies, webpages, reports, or music albums. Shorter works' titles (articles, essays, poems, songs, or book chapters) come in quotations. (1) Do you underline book titles? Underlining book titles is an outdated practice.

  9. How to Write a Book Title in MLA Formatting

    In fact, most style guides, including MLA and Chicago style, require book titles to be italicized, not underlined. If the book title has a subtitle, the subtitle should be italicized as well and separated by a colon to be formatted correctly for MLA style, as in: Natural History of the Intellect: the last lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  10. How do you write a book title in MLA?

    If a source has no author, start the MLA Works Cited entry with the source title.Use a shortened version of the title in your MLA in-text citation.. If a source has no page numbers, you can use an alternative locator (e.g. a chapter number, or a timestamp for a video or audio source) to identify the relevant passage in your in-text citation. If the source has no numbered divisions, cite only ...

  11. Forging good titles in academic writing

    Writing effective headings. Although similar, headings are not the same as titles. Headings head paragraphs and help structure a document. Effective headings make your paper easily scannable. Common high level headings in dissertations and research papers are "Methods", "Research results", and "Discussion". Lower level headings are ...

  12. Title

    Title of Source. The title is usually taken from an authoritative location in the source such as the title page. It is the name of the source you are using. Capitalize the following parts of speech in a title: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions (although, because, unless, after, until, when, where, while, etc.).

  13. How To Write Titles in Essays (With Tips)

    Capitalize the first and final word of the title. Capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, helping verbs, adjectives and adverbs within the title. Capitalize the first word that follows a colon when using title case. Do not capitalize articles located between the first and final words, such as "the," "a" and "an."

  14. How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

    In APA style, there should be a colon (:) between the main title and any subtitle. When citing a book title within the text of your paper, use title case and italicize it. When including book titles in your reference list, use sentence case and italicize it. Example 3: Punctuation.

  15. APA Style

    Use initials for the first and middle names of authors. Use one space between initials. All names are inverted (last name, first initial). Do not hyphenate a name unless it is hyphenated on the item. Separate the author's names with a comma and use the ampersand symbol "&" before the last author listed. Spell out the name of any organization ...

  16. Punctuation with Titles

    Titles and Subtitles. Section 1.2.1 of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook says, "Use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle, unless the title ends in a question mark or an exclamation point. Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle.". The handbook provides the following examples:

  17. Formatting Titles in Essays

    When to Use Italics. You can often spot a title from the capitalisation, but we still format titles to distinguish between different types of source. Titles of longer sources, for example, typically use italics: Here, Kerrang! is italicised because it is the title of a magazine (i.e. a standalone work that is not one part of a larger whole).

  18. How to Write a Book Title (15 Expert Tips + Examples)

    Here's how to write a book title that readers love: 1. Use unique or unusual words. Some ways to do this are: use a thesaurus and combine two words to make a unique word (for e.g. Freakonomics, Spoonbenders). If your main character has a unique name, you can write the name as a book title (for e.g. Frankenstein, Oliver Twist). 2.

  19. MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics

    Basic in-text citation rules. In MLA Style, referring to the works of others in your text is done using parenthetical citations. This method involves providing relevant source information in parentheses whenever a sentence uses a quotation or paraphrase. Usually, the simplest way to do this is to put all of the source information in parentheses ...

  20. Reference List: Basic Rules

    Italicize titles of longer works (e.g., books, edited collections, names of newspapers, and so on). Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as chapters in books or essays in edited collections. Basic Rules for Articles in Academic Journals. Present journal titles in full. Italicize journal titles.

  21. How to Cite a Book

    To cite a book chapter, first give the author and title (in quotation marks) of the chapter cited, then information about the book as a whole and the page range of the specific chapter. The in-text citation lists the author of the chapter and the page number of the relevant passage. MLA format. Author last name, First name.

  22. How to Title an Argumentative Essay

    When titling your argumentative essay, it is essential to emphasize its argumentative nature in order to set clear expectations for readers. By incorporating the keyword "title an argumentative essay" into your title, you can effectively convey the purpose and nature of your essay. Here are some strategies to highlight the argumentative aspect: