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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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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 61,956 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

when writing about a book 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

when writing about a book 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 Start an Essay About a Book: A Comprehensive Guide

Starting an essay about a book might seem like an uphill endeavor, but with the right approach, you can create an engaging introduction that sets the tone for your entire paper. Whether you’re a student or an aspiring writer, this guide will provide you with practical insights, creative ideas, and actionable steps on how to start an essay about a book that leaves a lasting impression on your readers.

Introduction: Setting the Stage for Literary Analysis

Writing an essay about a book is an opportunity to delve into the world of literature, explore themes, characters, and narratives, and express your unique perspective. The introduction serves as the gateway to your essay, inviting readers to join you on your literary journey. Let’s explore the art of crafting captivating introductions for essays about books.

Related: Can I Start My College Essay with a Quote? Tips and Insights

How to Start an Essay About a Book

Embarking on the journey of writing an essay about a book requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Here are essential steps to guide you through the process:

1. Understand the Book’s Context and Significance

To create an impactful introduction, begin by understanding the book’s historical context, the author’s background, and the broader significance of the work. This contextual knowledge will help you establish the relevance of the book and its themes to your readers.

2. Choose an Intriguing Angle

Diving into the vast sea of literary elements, select an angle that piques readers’ curiosity. Whether it’s a thematic exploration, character analysis, or a critical review, a unique angle sets the stage for an engaging introduction.

3. Craft a Compelling Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is the backbone of your essay. It should succinctly convey your main argument and guide your readers on what to expect. A well-crafted thesis statement is both thought-provoking and informative.

4. Open with a Captivating Hook

Draw readers in with a captivating hook that sparks their interest. This could be a thought-provoking question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a vivid description. A compelling hook sets the tone for an engaging essay.

5. Provide Brief Contextual Background

Offer a concise overview of the book’s plot, main characters, and central themes. Provide enough information to orient readers without giving away too much. Leave them curious and eager to explore further.

6. Introduce Your Approach

Outline the approach you’ll take in your essay. Briefly explain the key points you’ll be discussing and the insights you aim to uncover. This gives readers a roadmap for what’s to come.

7. Use LSI Keywords for Depth

Incorporate Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords related to the book and its themes. This not only boosts SEO but also enhances the depth and relevance of your introduction.

8. Incorporate Relevant Quotes

Weave in relevant quotes from the book that supports your thesis. Quotes add credibility and allow readers to connect with the text on a deeper level.

9. Highlight the Book’s Impact

Discuss the book’s impact on literature, society, or culture. Explain why it remains relevant and worth discussing. This shows your awareness of the book’s broader implications.

10. Pose Thought-Provoking Questions

Engage readers by posing thought-provoking questions related to the book’s themes. Encourage them to reflect on their own interpretations and viewpoints.

11. Share Personal Connections

If applicable, share personal anecdotes or connections you have with the book. This personal touch adds authenticity to your introduction.

12. Offer a Glimpse of Analysis

Give readers a glimpse of the analytical journey ahead. Mention the key aspects you’ll delve into and the critical lenses you’ll apply.

13. Address Counterarguments

Acknowledge potential counterarguments or differing interpretations of the book. Demonstrating a balanced perspective strengthens your credibility as an essay writer.

14. Build Anticipation

Create anticipation for the rest of your essay. Tease the insights and revelations readers can expect in the subsequent sections.

15. Power Keywords for Impact

Incorporate power keywords that evoke emotion and create impact. Words like “profound,” “intriguing,” or “riveting” add a dynamic flair to your introduction.

16. Incorporate a Compelling Anecdote

Share a brief and relevant anecdote that relates to the book’s themes. Anecdotes humanize the topic and engage readers on a personal level.

17. Outline Structure and Flow

Provide a brief overview of the essay’s structure and how you’ll navigate through different sections. A clear roadmap enhances readability.

18. Address the Reader Directly

Speak directly to the reader, inviting them to explore the book alongside you. This creates a sense of connection and involvement.

19. Utilize Rich Formatting

Enhance readability by using rich formatting such as bold, italics, and bullet points. These elements visually break up the text and highlight key information.

20. Reference Credible Sources

When discussing the book’s significance or impact, reference credible sources such as literary critics, scholars, or reputable articles. This adds depth to your introduction.

21. Transition to the Main Body

Conclude your introduction with a seamless transition to the main body of the essay. Create a logical bridge that encourages readers to continue reading.

Related: What Brings You Joy College Essay Example

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Start an Essay About a Book

Step 1: Choose the Book

Select a book that you want to write about. Ensure that the book is relevant to your essay’s topic and aligns with your thesis or main argument.

Step 2: Understand the Assignment

Read the essay assignment or prompt carefully. Understand the specific requirements, such as the length, format, and any guidelines provided by your instructor.

Step 3: Read and Analyze the Book

Read the book thoroughly, taking notes on key plot points, characters, themes, and any literary devices used by the author. Analyze the book’s significance and consider why it’s worth writing about.

Step 4: Determine Your Approach

Decide how you want to approach the essay. Will you be analyzing a specific theme, character, or literary technique? Clarify your main focus and identify the key points you want to discuss.

Step 5: Craft Your Thesis Statement

Develop a clear and concise thesis statement that outlines your main argument or purpose for writing the essay. This thesis will guide the direction of your essay.

Step 6: Choose an Engaging Opening Strategy

Now, let’s delve into different strategies for starting your essay about the book:

1. Quotation: Begin with a relevant and impactful quote from the book. Explain its significance and how it relates to the themes you’ll be discussing.

2. Anecdote: Share a short anecdote or personal story that connects to the book’s themes. This can help create an emotional or relatable entry point.

3. Question: Pose a thought-provoking question related to the book’s themes or characters. Invite the reader to think critically about the topic.

4. Contrast: Highlight a sharp contrast between elements in the book or between the book and real-world situations. This can create intrigue and set the stage for your analysis.

5. Shocking Fact: Present a surprising or shocking fact related to the book’s content, themes, or impact. This can capture the reader’s attention immediately.

Step 7: Provide Context

After your engaging opening, briefly introduce the book by mentioning its title, author, and publication date. Provide a concise overview of the book’s plot or central idea.

Step 8: Preview Main Points

Give the reader a preview of the main points you’ll be discussing in the essay. This helps them understand the structure and flow of your analysis.

Step 9: Transition to Your Thesis

Smoothly transition from the introduction to your thesis statement. Explain how the opening strategy you chose connects to your main argument.

Step 10: Revise and Edit

Review your introduction for clarity, coherence, and grammar. Make sure it effectively introduces the book and sets the tone for your essay.

Remember, a well-crafted introduction can captivate your readers and set the stage for a compelling essay. Experiment with different opening strategies to find the one that best suits your writing style and the content of your essay.

FAQs on How to Start an Essay About a Book

How do i choose the right book for my essay.

Select a book that resonates with you personally or aligns with the theme of your course. Consider books that offer rich material for analysis and discussion.

Can I start my essay with a question?

Absolutely! Starting with a thought-provoking question can be an effective way to engage readers and introduce your essay’s central ideas.

What if I haven’t read the entire book?

While it’s ideal to read the entire book, you can still write a compelling essay by focusing on specific sections or chapters that relate to your chosen angle.

Should I provide a detailed summary in the introduction?

Avoid excessive summarization in the introduction. Instead, provide a concise overview that leaves room for an in-depth exploration of the main body.

How can I make my introduction stand out?

Infuse your introduction with your unique voice and perspective. Be creative, bold, and authentic in your approach.

Is it okay to share personal emotions in the introduction?

Sharing personal emotions or connections to the book can add depth to your introduction, but ensure it aligns with the tone and purpose of your essay.

Final Verdict

Crafting the perfect introduction for your essay about a book is an art that requires a combination of creativity, analysis, and strategic thinking. By following these steps and incorporating engaging elements, you can start your essay on a strong note, capturing your reader’s attention and setting the stage for a captivating exploration of literature.

Remember, the introduction is just the beginning of your essay-writing journey. As you delve into the main body, keep the momentum going with insightful analysis, well-supported arguments, and a cohesive structure.

So, go ahead and embark on your literary adventure. Start your essay about a book with confidence, and watch as your words transport readers into the fascinating world of literature.

Related: How Do You Write a Book Title in an Essay

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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.


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.


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


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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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.


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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 a literary analysis essay | A step-by-step guide

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide

Published on January 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 14, 2023.

Literary analysis means closely studying a text, interpreting its meanings, and exploring why the author made certain choices. It can be applied to novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other form of literary writing.

A literary analysis essay is not a rhetorical analysis , nor is it just a summary of the plot or a book review. Instead, it is a type of argumentative essay where you need to analyze elements such as the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to create effects and convey ideas.

Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and c ome up with a thesis statement to keep your essay focused. As you write, follow the standard structure of an academic essay :

  • An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will focus on.
  • A main body, divided into paragraphs , that builds an argument using evidence from the text.
  • A conclusion that clearly states the main point that you have shown with your analysis.

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Table of contents

Step 1: reading the text and identifying literary devices, step 2: coming up with a thesis, step 3: writing a title and introduction, step 4: writing the body of the essay, step 5: writing a conclusion, other interesting articles.

The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, pay attention to the things that are most intriguing, surprising, or even confusing in the writing—these are things you can dig into in your analysis.

Your goal in literary analysis is not simply to explain the events described in the text, but to analyze the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking out for literary devices —textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and create effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you can also look for connections between different texts.

To get started with your analysis, there are several key areas that you can focus on. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try to think about how they all relate to each other. You can use highlights or notes to keep track of important passages and quotes.

Language choices

Consider what style of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and simple or more complex and poetic?

What word choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something other than their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).

Also keep an eye out for imagery in the text—recurring images that create a certain atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is used in literary texts to say more than it means on the surface.

Narrative voice

Ask yourself:

  • Who is telling the story?
  • How are they telling it?

Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved in the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?

Consider the narrator’s perspective . Is the narrator omniscient (where they know everything about all the characters and events), or do they only have partial knowledge? Are they an unreliable narrator who we are not supposed to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator might be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.

The tone of the text is also worth considering. Is the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa ? Is the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?

Consider how the text is structured, and how the structure relates to the story being told.

  • Novels are often divided into chapters and parts.
  • Poems are divided into lines, stanzas, and sometime cantos.
  • Plays are divided into scenes and acts.

Think about why the author chose to divide the different parts of the text in the way they did.

There are also less formal structural elements to take into account. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res —in the middle of the action? Does the plot advance towards a clearly defined climax?

With poetry, consider how the rhyme and meter shape your understanding of the text and your impression of the tone. Try reading the poem aloud to get a sense of this.

In a play, you might consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and how the setting relates to the action. Watch out for  dramatic irony , where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.

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Your thesis in a literary analysis essay is the point you want to make about the text. It’s the core argument that gives your essay direction and prevents it from just being a collection of random observations about a text.

If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt. For example:

Essay question example

Is Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” a religious parable?

Your thesis statement should be an answer to this question—not a simple yes or no, but a statement of why this is or isn’t the case:

Thesis statement example

Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is not a religious parable, but a story about bureaucratic alienation.

Sometimes you’ll be given freedom to choose your own topic; in this case, you’ll have to come up with an original thesis. Consider what stood out to you in the text; ask yourself questions about the elements that interested you, and consider how you might answer them.

Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you think is true about the text, but which is not a simple matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay.

Say you’re analyzing the novel Frankenstein . You could start by asking yourself:

Your initial answer might be a surface-level description:

The character Frankenstein is portrayed negatively in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .

However, this statement is too simple to be an interesting thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you can develop the answer into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:

Mary Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

Remember that you can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process , so it doesn’t need to be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to keep you focused as you analyze the text.

Finding textual evidence

To support your thesis statement, your essay will build an argument using textual evidence —specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point. This evidence is quoted and analyzed throughout your essay to explain your argument to the reader.

It can be useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you start writing. You might not end up using everything you find, and you may have to return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the beginning will help you to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.

To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: a good title, and an introduction.

Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will focus on. It usually contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and engaging as possible.

A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and then the rest of your title.

If you struggle to come up with a good title at first, don’t worry—this will be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have a better sense of your arguments.

“Fearful symmetry” : The violence of creation in William Blake’s “The Tyger”

The introduction

The essay introduction provides a quick overview of where your argument is going. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.

A typical structure for an introduction is to begin with a general statement about the text and author, using this to lead into your thesis statement. You might refer to a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or zoom in on a particular device you intend to focus on.

Then you can end with a brief indication of what’s coming up in the main body of the essay. This is called signposting. It will be more elaborate in longer essays, but in a short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be more than one sentence.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

Some students prefer to write the introduction later in the process, and it’s not a bad idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the overall shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!

If you do write the introduction first, you should still return to it later to make sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.

The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and the textual evidence that supports them.

Paragraph structure

A typical structure for a high school literary analysis essay consists of five paragraphs : the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.

Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one topic. In the five-paragraph model, try to divide your argument into three main areas of analysis, all linked to your thesis. Don’t try to include everything you can think of to say about the text—only analysis that drives your argument.

In longer essays, the same principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you might have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you still want to begin new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn in the argument or the introduction of a new idea.

Robert’s first encounter with Gil-Martin suggests something of his sinister power. Robert feels “a sort of invisible power that drew me towards him.” He identifies the moment of their meeting as “the beginning of a series of adventures which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am no more in it” (p. 89). Gil-Martin’s “invisible power” seems to be at work even at this distance from the moment described; before continuing the story, Robert feels compelled to anticipate at length what readers will make of his narrative after his approaching death. With this interjection, Hogg emphasizes the fatal influence Gil-Martin exercises from his first appearance.

Topic sentences

To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.

A good topic sentence allows a reader to see at a glance what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a new line of argument and connect or contrast it with the previous paragraph. Transition words like “however” or “moreover” are useful for creating smooth transitions:

… The story’s focus, therefore, is not upon the divine revelation that may be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the man as he waits.

Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is typically treated as religious symbolism.

This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of religious symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.

Using textual evidence

A key part of literary analysis is backing up your arguments with relevant evidence from the text. This involves introducing quotes from the text and explaining their significance to your point.

It’s important to contextualize quotes and explain why you’re using them; they should be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:

It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is useful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll have to refer to plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in a short quote.

In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to describe the relevant part in your own words:

The conclusion of your analysis shouldn’t introduce any new quotations or arguments. Instead, it’s about wrapping up the essay. Here, you summarize your key points and try to emphasize their significance to the reader.

A good way to approach this is to briefly summarize your key arguments, and then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole:

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.

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If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, August 14). How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide. Scribbr. Retrieved March 23, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/literary-analysis/

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

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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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Creative Writing Prompts

How to Format a Book Title in Writing: Step-by-Step Guide

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My name is Debbie, and I am passionate about developing a love for the written word and planting a seed that will grow into a powerful voice that can inspire many.

How to Format a Book Title in Writing: Step-by-Step Guide

Choosing the Right Format for Your Book Title

Understanding the use of italics and quotation marks, formatting fiction book titles: novels, short stories, and anthologies, formatting non-fiction book titles: essays, articles, and chapters.

  • ` for main sections, ` ` for sub-sections, and so on. This enables readers to grasp the overall organization of the content at a glance. 4. **List chapter titles**: Consider creating a clear and concise unnumbered list to display chapter titles. Use the ` ` tag to indicate an unordered list and ` ` tags for each chapter title. This formatting approach enables readers to quickly skim through the chapter titles and navigate the book efficiently. By following these HTML formatting guidelines, non-fiction authors can give their essays, articles, and chapter titles a professional and visually appealing look, enhancing the overall reading experience for their audience. Remember to stay consistent with formatting choices throughout the book to maintain a cohesive and well-structured publication. Navigating the Formatting of Book Titles with Subtitles

Special Cases: Formatting Series Titles and Edition Numbers

Helpful tips for consistency and clarity in book title formatting, frequently asked questions, final thoughts.

When it comes to selecting the perfect format for your book title, it’s essential to consider various factors to ensure that your title stands out and captures the attention of potential readers. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind while making this decision:

1. Length: The length of your book title plays a crucial role in its format. For longer titles, it’s generally recommended to opt for a smaller font size or consider dividing it into sections using line breaks. On the other hand, shorter titles might benefit from a larger and bolder font to create visual impact.

2. Font Style: The font style you choose can greatly influence the visual appeal of your book title. Consider the genre and tone of your book when selecting a font. Serif fonts often work well for formal or traditional genres, while sans-serif fonts offer a modern and clean look suitable for contemporary or light-hearted themes. Moreover, it’s essential to ensure that the chosen font is easily readable both in print and digital formats.

Understanding the Use of Italics and Quotation Marks

When it comes to writing, it is essential to understand and properly utilize italics and quotation marks. These formatting tools serve different purposes and can greatly enhance the clarity and effectiveness of your writing. Here’s a breakdown of how and when to use them:

Using Italics: 1. Emphasizing words or phrases: Italics can be used to highlight specific words or phrases in your text for added emphasis. For example, you might italicize an important concept or a foreign word. 2. Titles of works: Italicize the titles of books, movies, TV shows, plays, poems, albums, and other standalone works. This helps differentiate them from the surrounding text and gives them more prominence. 3. Thoughts and inner dialogue: Italics can be used to represent a character’s inner thoughts or dialogue. This helps readers distinguish between the character’s external dialogue and their internal musings.

Using Quotation Marks: 1. Direct quotations: Quotation marks are commonly used to indicate direct speech or a quote from another source. When including someone’s exact words, it is important to enclose them in quotation marks to avoid plagiarism and give credit to the original author or speaker. 2. Titles of shorter works: Quotation marks are used to denote the titles of shorter works such as articles, short stories, poems, episodes of TV shows, and songs. This sets them apart from the main body of text. 3. Words as words: Quotation marks can be used to indicate that a word is being discussed rather than used in its usual sense. For instance, you might write, “The word ‘process’ can have multiple meanings.”

Formatting Fiction Book Titles: Novels, Short Stories, and Anthologies

In the vast world of fiction, titles hold significant importance as they are meant to capture readers’ attention and convey the essence of the story within. When it comes to formatting fiction book titles, whether they belong to novels, short stories, or anthologies, it’s crucial to follow a consistent style. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate the art of formatting book titles:

1. Novels: When formatting the title of a novel, it should be italicized to indicate that it’s a standalone book. For example, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Alternatively, you can also use quotation marks if italicizing is not an option, such as “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger.

2. Short Stories: Similar to novels, short story titles are also typically italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. However, if the short story is a standalone book (e.g., “Animal Farm” by George Orwell), it’s common to treat it like a novel and italicize the title. On the other hand, if the short story is part of a larger collection, it should be placed in quotation marks within the larger anthology’s title, like “The Tell-Tale Heart” in “The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.”

Formatting Non-Fiction Book Titles: Essays, Articles, and Chapters

HTML allows for easy and effective formatting of non-fiction book titles, such as essays, articles, and chapters. By utilizing specific HTML tags, authors can enhance the visual appeal and organization of their writing. Here are some key formatting guidelines to consider:

1. **Italicize** titles: Use the ` ` tag to add emphasis to the title of an essay or article. This formatting option distinguishes the title from the rest of the text, allowing readers to easily identify it.

2. **Enclose chapter titles in quotation marks**: To differentiate chapter titles from the main text, surround them with the ` ` tag. This helps readers navigate through the book and locate specific sections with ease.

3. **Use headings to structure content**: Employ HTML heading tags (`

When it comes to formatting book titles with subtitles, it’s important to follow consistent rules to maintain clarity and professionalism. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the formatting nuances:

1. Capitalization: In book titles, capitalize the first and last word, all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. However, do not capitalize coordinating conjunctions (e.g., and, but), articles (e.g., a, an, the), or prepositions (unless they are the first or last word of the title). For subtitles, capitalize the first letter of the first word, proper nouns, and all significant words. Minor words like articles and prepositions should remain lowercase.

2. Punctuation: Use the appropriate punctuation marks to separate the main title and subtitle. Typically, a colon is used. For example: “The Art of Fiction: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Engaging Stories.” If the main title already contains a colon, consider using a dash to set apart the subtitle, such as: “The Miracle Morning – The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8 AM.”

3. Italicize: In most cases, it is preferable to italicize both the main title and the subtitle to distinguish them from the rest of the text. However, if italics are not available (for example, in certain mediums like email or plain text), you can use double quotation marks (” “) to enclose book titles instead. In professional writing, avoid using underlines for book titles as it may be confused with hyperlinks in online formats.

Special Cases: Formatting Series Titles and Edition Numbers

In the world of publishing, series titles and edition numbers are essential elements to consider when formatting your content. To ensure consistency and clarity, here are some guidelines to follow for these special cases:

1. Formatting Series Titles: – Italicize series titles to set them apart from the rest of the text. For example, if you have a book series called “Adventures in Wonderland,” ensure that this series title is italicized throughout your content. – Capitalize the first letter of each significant word in the series title, except for articles, conjunctions, and prepositions unless they are the first or last word of the title. – If the series title includes a proper noun or a brand name, make sure to capitalize it consistently.

2. Including Edition Numbers: – Place the edition number immediately after the title but within the same sentence, separated by a comma. For example, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 20th Anniversary Edition.” – Use numerals for edition numbers, followed by “th,” “st,” “nd,” or “rd” to denote the corresponding ordinal indicator. For instance, 5th edition, 1st edition, 2nd edition. – If the edition belongs to a specific publisher or includes additional descriptors, such as “revised” or “abridged,” include this information after the edition number, separated by a comma.

Helpful Tips for Consistency and Clarity in Book Title Formatting

One of the key elements in book design is the formatting of its title. Consistency and clarity in book title formatting can greatly enhance the visual appeal and readability of your book. Here are a few helpful tips to consider:

– Use a clear and legible font: Select a font that is easy to read and complements the theme or genre of your book. Avoid using overly decorative or complex fonts that may hinder clarity. – Maintain consistent capitalization: Decide on a capitalization style for your book titles and stick to it throughout. You can choose to capitalize all significant words or only the first word and proper nouns. Consistency in capitalization will give your book a polished and professional appearance. – Pay attention to spacing and punctuation: Ensure proper spacing between words, as well as before and after punctuation marks. Consistency in spacing and punctuation will help maintain a visually pleasing layout . – Consider font size: The size of your book title should be appropriate, neither too small nor too large. Make sure the font size stands out while still fitting within the overall design.

– Include subtitle possibilities: If your book has a subtitle, consider different formatting options to differentiate it from the main title. You can use italics, a smaller font size, or a different font style to make the subtitle stand out. – Experiment with font styles and weights: To add visual interest and emphasize certain words or phrases in your title, try using different font styles or weights. For example, you could use bold or italics to highlight key words, while keeping the rest of the title in a regular font style. – Limit the use of special characters: While some special characters may be appropriate for specific genres, it’s generally best to keep them to a minimum. Using too many special characters can make the title appear cluttered and difficult to read. Stick to simple, clear typography for optimal clarity and consistency.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your book title formatting maintains consistency and clarity, allowing potential readers to easily recognize and engage with your work. Remember, a well-formatted book title not only enhances the overall design but also conveys professionalism and attention to detail.

Q: Why is it important to format a book title correctly in writing? A: Formatting a book title correctly is important as it helps readers identify the source you are referring to, and it also shows respect for the author’s work. Correct formatting enhances the clarity and professionalism of your writing.

Q: How should I format a book title in an essay or an article? A: When writing an essay or article, you should use italics or underlining to format the title of a book. For example, “To Kill a Mockingbird” should be written as To Kill a Mockingbird.

Q: Are there any exceptions to this rule? A: Yes, there are a couple of exceptions. If you are using a typewriter or handwriting your work, you should underline the book title instead of italicizing it. Similarly, when writing an email or a text message, you can use quotation marks instead of italics or underlining. For example, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Q: How about shorter works like short stories or poems? A: Shorter works, such as short stories, poems, or chapters, should be put in quotation marks. For instance, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is the title of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe.

Q: What if the book title already contains quotation marks or italics? A: If the book title you’re referencing already contains quotation marks, you should use single quotation marks to set it off. In case the title is already in italics, you should leave it unaltered and not add any additional formatting.

Q: How should I format a book title when writing a bibliography or a reference page? A: In a bibliography or reference page, you should list book titles in italics or underlining, depending on your writing style guide’s specifications. Make sure to be consistent throughout your entire bibliography.

Q: Are there any additional formatting guidelines for book titles? A: Yes, there are a few additional guidelines to keep in mind. Capitalize the first letter of the first and last word in the title, as well as any important words in between. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or), or prepositions unless they are the first word of the title.

Q: Is it necessary to format book titles correctly in every instance? A: Yes, it is best to maintain consistent and correct formatting of book titles in all instances. Whether you’re writing an academic paper, an article, or even a casual blog post , correctly formatting book titles demonstrates attention to detail and respect for the author’s work.

In conclusion, following the correct formatting rules for book titles is crucial. This step-by-step guide will help you avoid any confusion and present your writing in a professional and polished manner.

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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 a Book Essay

Book essay writing is an omnipresent assignment imposed by many professors, especially if you are dealing with literature constantly. An essay on a book is usually a way for your teacher to get proof that you gained something from analyzing this book. They want to make sure that you read the book, thus having some personal thoughts that you’d like to express. Also, writing an essay is quite helpful for developing your skills at articulating thoughts. If you want to know how to write a book essay, then we are here to help you understand it in detail.

writing an essay on a book

What to Consider Writing an Essay on a Book

What is different from your usual essay, is that you need to express your thoughts after reading a certain work and then choose a direction to go from. It is a combination of character analysis combined with your personal feelings on the work that ultimately culminates in the creation of an expressive critical essay on a book. But how to write an essay about a book? Mind you, a professional essay on a book consists of certain criteria, that like chemical compounds create a proper reaction from a reader’s perspective:

  • This is the flair that you base your essay upon. This is when you’re creativeness comes to play, you want your essay to be unique
  • The way you structuralize sentences and pick certain words for your essay.
  • The basic structure of an essay, which usually consists of an introduction, main body, and conclusion.
  • Your essay bears an informative approach, being somewhat emotive to express personal thoughts on a particular book.

📚 How to Prepare for Book Essay Writing

Before writing an essay about a book, you need to think clearly about which plan to use, so that the flow of thoughts lines up into coherent, logical sentences.

How to start off an essay about a book? Immediately after receiving the topic of the essay, ideas and images will begin to arise in your head (of course, if you have read the work). On a rough sheet of paper, sketch the phrases or words that first come to mind. Then they can be developed into a whole essay.

So, think carefully about what you want to say about the topic. Then write down your thoughts on paper in a column. And then decide in what order you want to display these thoughts on paper. This is necessary for a clear and distinct structure of the work.

Read the Book Exhaustively

So how to start an essay about a book? Naturally, the main path to successfully writing an essay on a book is to more or less know the contents of the story. We’re not talking about remembering every single character trait or knowing the gist of each internal monologue. Just focus on what you find alluring about the story, trying to create the idea from a scene that you enjoy in particular. Then you can connect this scene to the character development, thus proving a point that even the smallest scene can influence the overall conclusion of the story. Plus, not knowing the story will make you unable to bring in examples, thus making you obliged to order an essay online .

Make Up One’s Mind About the Topic

How to write a book analysis essay perfectly? Another important thing about approaching a book essay is setting up an idea you’d like to share with the readers. Do you want to lead to a positive conclusion, something philosophical, or go in the direction that no one previously dared to? The idea here is that you need to create a point to focus on and try not to digress from it as much. Do you want to show how the hero struggles with basic human needs? If so, then don’t describe scenes where they do the opposite.

Prepare an Outline

How to write an analysis essay on a book? You have to think of a good outline. An outline is a sort of plan that you don’t want to diverge from. Planning is one of the fortes of humanity and without it, your essay might sound clunky and chaotic. Jumping randomly from point to point won’t get you high scores. Imagine creating an overarching ladder where your point gets stronger and stronger due to the logical nature of your essay. Think about how you want to start your essay, the quotes to strengthen your point, and the natural conclusion you’d like to bring your readers to. This is the gist of an outline.

Don’t Forget About Quotes

Another important aspect of how to write a book analysis is quoting a character to properly refer to a particular scene. An essay usually implies that you have access to all the resources you need, so it wouldn’t pose difficulty to look up a direct quote of a character that correlates with your thoughts. This is extremely important for professors as they want to be persuaded that you know what you are talking about. This is especially true if they are a fan of the story you are writing an essay on. People usually look for like-mindedness, being extremely happy about seeing someone agreeing with them.

📑 How to Structure Your Book Analysis Essay

How to introduce a book in an essay? Like any essay, a creative writing paper in literature consists of several elements:

  • Introduction.
  • Definition of the problem, its relevance.
  • The formulation of one’s position.
  • Arguments that support it.

The structure of the final essay on literature should be clear. Do not make too many paragraphs, but do not break the text into many small passages.

How to Start a Book Analysis Essay?

In the introductory part, the information should be written as if it were read by someone completely unfamiliar with the problem. Here you need to reveal the topic, the problem, and the relevance of the essay. The questions you can put in front of you will help with this:

  • What work are you writing your essay/essay on?
  • What do you know about the author of the work?
  • What is the genre of the work (comedy, drama, novel, etc.)? What aspects would you like to explore in your work?

Writing a Thesis Statement

How to start a paragraph about a book? You are in need of a thesis statement. A thesis statement is the main element for creating a perfect introduction and is your cornerstone to transition to the main body. It is a sentence where you state the main point of your essay, wanting to announce what it is that you are going to analyze. Thus the path to succeeding with the thesis statement is to make it correlate with your conclusion. In fact, you might even start writing a conclusion first, and then write a thesis statement based on it.

Create a Body Paragraph

Here it is necessary to highlight the thoughts that the work evoked, the emotions toward the chosen character or its circumstances.

Each idea will have to be supported by examples from the original text of the work. If you say that the problem of war worries the character, then you need to give examples in which this excitement is conveyed to the reader.

The main part is, for the most part, your reasoning about what you care about in the whole story. Show the evolution of your thought here, from what point in the work it originated, how it evolved, and what conclusion it eventually led to.

Book Essay Conclusion

And this is the finale you lead your readers to. So how to write a conclusion for an argumentative essay ? You create a final point based on everything you’ve been describing in the main body, reinstating the main point in the introduction. Mind you, that conclusion shouldn’t have any new information that wasn’t previously described. You just want to make your thoughts ironclad and protect those from basic criticism.

Need Help Writing an Essay on Books?

How to write an essay on a book when you are not invested in it? If you have an issue with creating an essay on books, then we are more than ready to help you out here. Not everyone is ready to read a book for the sake of making a teacher happy. Sometimes literature can be unbearable with a student who has no interest in or time to engage with it. Nevertheless, your assignment needs to be done and if a perfect score is something you are aiming for, then our paper writing services are the way to go.

Our team is made of literature experts that can learn the book in-depth, knowing exactly what your teacher might be looking for. We stick to the structure described in this article, coming up with a quality outline, and then writing a proper essay that is full of argumentation and persuasiveness.

What is the purpose of a book analysis essay?

A book analysis essay is usually created to write your thoughts on a particular book, trying to prove a personal statement concerning it. Perhaps you’d like to dive into the inner thoughts of a character, analyzing what elements led them to a particular path. You can go the other direction and analyze the writer’s style, complimenting them on creating this rich world. Furthermore, a book analysis essay can be full of critique for nobody is obliged to love everything.

How to talk about a book in an essay?

The main idea of writing an essay about a book is stating the point that is yours and yours only. The path to success is all about loving what you write, instead of feeling obliged to do something. If you just want to create something for the sake of just making an assignment, then your essay can feel bland. If you don’t like the work you need to write an essay on, then go with this direction and bring your fair share of critique.

How to start an essay on a book?

Asking yourself how to start an essay on a book? An essay usually starts with an introduction. You start it with a philosophical sentence that usually invites the reader to reminisce about the contents of the book. This is where you usually state the purpose of your essay, outlining the main point that you are further going to prove in the main body.

How many paragraphs are in a book essay?

The format for a book essay can differ from professor to professor but usually, it has five paragraphs or so. You don’t need to create a huge memoir on a particular book. Rather, you pick some narrow aspect hidden within it and try to condense your thoughts into one page. The most important aspect here is to not make it watery, repeating your point with no progress.

How to write an analysis paper on a book with a good outline?

The outline is the blueprint for creating your essay. This is where you want to create your main point, and then plan how you are going to prove it with particular examples from a book. An outline exists to properly structuralize your essay, without feeling random.

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In essay writing, the toughest part is always starting it. Most students agree: when you get the introduction paragraph right, you become much more confident about writing the rest of the paper. And, when it comes to more specific academic…  Read More

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Book essay writing is an omnipresent assignment imposed by many professors, especially if you are dealing with literature constantly. An essay on a book is usually a way for your teacher to get proof that you gained something from analyzing…  Read More

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Expository Essay

Expository Essay About A Book

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Learn the Basics of Crafting an Expository Essay about a Book

Expository essay about a book

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Looking for ways to write an effective expository essay on a book?

An expository essay about a book can be a challenging task, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating.

With the right approach and understanding of the basics, you can turn your assignment into an engaging exploration of your chosen text.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the steps for creating an effective expository essay about a book.

So let's begin! 

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  • 1. What is an Expository Essay About a Book?
  • 2. Expository Essay About a Book Examples
  • 3. How To Write An Expository Essay About a Book?

What is an Expository Essay About a Book?

So what is an expository essay? An expository essay is a type of writing that examines and explains a topic in detail. 

Writing an expository essay about a book can be a fun and educational way to explore the meaning of literature. It allows you to analyze the author’s writing style, themes, or various other aspects of a book.

In such an essay, you are expected to choose a particular aspect of a book and write an essay discussing that aspect in detail.

For example , you can write an expository essay about the depiction of authoritarianism in George Orwell's 1984. Similarly, you can choose to discuss any aspect of a book you’ve read.

Now that you know what an expository essay is, let's look at some examples.

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Expository Essay About a Book Examples

To understand expository essays better, let’s take a look at some examples:

Expository Essay About a Book Example

Expository Essay About a Novel

Book Expository Essay Example

Reading these sample essays will help you understand what an expository essay about a book should look like.

Looking for more sample expository essays? Read our expository essay examples blog.

Now that you've read some essays, it's time for you to write one yourself. Let’s move on to the steps for writing your essay about a book.

How To Write An Expository Essay About a Book?

Expository writing requires a few simple steps to ensure your paper is well-structured and engaging.

Here are the steps you should follow to write an effective essay about a book:

Step 1. Read and Analyze the Book Thoroughly

Whether you have been assigned a book by your instructor or have chosen one yourself, you should read it thoroughly.

Before you begin writing your essay, it’s important to do your research. That means reading carefully through the book, taking notes on key aspects of the text, and making observations.

When analyzing a book, you may look for the following aspects:

  • Prominent themes
  • Important characters or events in the story
  • Why the author chose to write the book
  • How the text relates to its historical context

In short: read, take notes, and make observations.

Here’s a very useful video about how to discuss a book in your writing:

Step 2. Choose a Topic

Once you’ve read and analyzed the book in detail, pick out an interesting aspect you can write about.

Your chosen topic will serve as your essay’s focus and help guide your writing. It could be anything from a character’s development to an in-depth look at the themes or symbols in the book.

In addition to writing about a book, there are many other expository essay topics for you to explore.

Step 3. Outline Your Essay

Before diving into your essay, it’s important to create an expository essay outline that will serve as your roadmap. An expository essay commonly consists of five paragraphs, often referred to as the "five-paragraph essay" structure. 

Your outline should contain: 

Start by writing down your main points and supporting ideas and then organizing them into logical sections. It helps your essay flow logically.

Step 4. Write the First Draft of Your Essay

At this point, you can begin writing your essay.

Use the outline you created to structure your points and support them with evidence from the book. Make sure to remain objective in your analysis, citing facts and examples from the text.

Step 5. Edit & Revise

Once you’ve written your first draft, review it and make any changes or corrections necessary.

Make sure to double-check for grammar and spelling mistakes as well as the accuracy of facts. You may also want to get a second opinion from a friend or teacher before submitting your essay.

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To wrap it up,

Writing an expository essay assignment about a book can be a great way to explore literature.

By following the steps outlined in this blog, you’ll be well on your way to crafting an effective and engaging essay.

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MyPerfectWords.com is a reliable destination for your essay writing needs, catering to students across academic levels. Our expository essay writing service is conveniently accessible with just a few clicks.

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A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing an Essay on a Book

Topic and assignment prompt, essay structure, why is it important.

How to write an essay on a book

Outlining Essay Structure

Organizing your essay efficiently is important for making sure it’s clear, concise, and to the point. Before you start writing, it’s important to understand the basic structure of an essay. Most essays are composed of an introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introduction serves as an opening paragraph where you should introduce the topic and provide any necessary background information that readers may need in order to understand the essay. A good introduction will explain why a reader should care about your topic and capture the attention of the reader.

The body is the main section of the essay where you will provide evidence, quotes, and any other relevant information to prove your point. It is important to make sure that each body paragraph has only one main point, and all of the evidence presented in the paragraph supports that one point.

The conclusion is the last paragraph of the essay. It should wrap up all of the points you made in the body and leave the reader with a sense of closure. It should also create a takeaway, or something for the reader to remember about what they have just read.

To make sure your essay is organized and has a consistent tone throughout, it is important to outline what each section should include. Outlining your essay structure before beginning eliminates unnecessary stress and makes sure you don’t forget any important points.

Research Phase: The Importance of Researching the Book

Before you dive into writing your essay on a book, you’ll want to make sure that you have done your research. No matter how familiar you are with the subject, it’s important to conduct research to ensure that your essay is accurate and well-informed.

Research can help you form a stronger thesis statement, better support your arguments, and provide evidence for your claims. It can also help you to organize your thoughts, uncover new ideas and angles, gain a deeper understanding of the text, or even find quotes or references that you can use in your essay.

Research should always come first. It helps to lay a strong foundation for the rest of your essay and it can save you from making any embarrassing mistakes. Have a clear understanding of the book’s themes, characters, and plot before you begin. Read reviews and criticisms, and take down notes for later.

Start by reading the book itself. Take your time and pay attention to details. Make notes, highlight any important passages, and consider different interpretations. After you get an overall gist of the book, expand your research outward into scholarly reviews, biographies, and other texts that can provide an objective, informed perspective.

The more research you do, the stronger your essay will be. Be sure to include all of the sources you used in your bibliography section. Research can be a tedious process, but with enough effort and dedication, you’ll be able to craft a well-informed, thoughtful essay on any book.

Pre-Writing Phase: Planning Your Essay

The pre-writing phase is the most important part of writing an essay on a book. Taking the time to plan your essay and organize your thoughts will help structure your argument and make your writing smoother. The pre-writing phase should involve a few key steps.

  • Brainstorm – Before you start writing, spend some time thinking about the book and how it relates to any themes, characters, or symbolism. Jot down your ideas so that you have a better understanding of what you want to focus on.
  • Outline – Write down some notes and make an outline of what you will cover in each paragraph. This will help you stay organized while writing and keep everything on track.
  • Research – Research any facts or quotes you may need to include in your essay. This will help you back up your claims and make your paper stronger.

Taking the time to plan ahead will help ensure your essay on a book is written clearly and effectively. You’ll be able to shape your argument easily and make sure you don’t miss anything important.

Thesis Formation

The thesis statement is a critical part of any essay on a book. It should be clear, concise, and capture the main argument and point of view of the essay. To ensure that your essay’s thesis statement is well-crafted, it is essential to follow a step-by-step guide.

Step One: Brainstorming Ideas

Before writing a thesis statement, you should brainstorm some ideas related to the book’s content. Consider the key elements of the book and think about how they could be connected into an argument or observation. Write down any ideas that pop into your mind, and use them as a basis for forming your thesis statement.

Step Two: Developing the Argument

Once you have a few ideas in mind, it is time to start developing a coherent argument. Try to make a connection between the ideas to create an original argument. Then, think about why this argument is important and what makes it relevant to the text.

Step Three: Writing the Thesis Statement

Now that you have an argument in mind, you are ready to craft your thesis statement. It should be a single sentence that clearly and concisely expresses your main argument. Generally, it should follow the same structure as any other essay’s thesis statement, stating the primary point of view, the evidence supporting it, and any other relevant details.

Step Four: Proofreading

The final step of crafting a great thesis statement is to proofread and edit it. Make sure that the statement is clear, concise, and captures the argument accurately. Additionally, pay attention to grammar and spelling. A minor mistake can weaken the force of the statement significantly.

Creating an effective thesis statement can help get your essay off to a strong start. As long as you follow these steps, you will be able to form a well-developed argument that can help you write a great essay on a book.

Drafting an Organized Paragraph

Editing: benefits and how to approach it effectively.

When writing an essay on a book, editing is a crucial step in the process. It can often be overlooked or skipped, but it shouldn’t be! Editing offers many valuable benefits, and it’s important to understand how to approach it effectively.

One of the biggest benefits of editing is that it gives you the opportunity to look at your essay with fresh eyes. Once you’ve written the paper, it can be nearly impossible to look at it objectively. Editing allows you to look at it critically and make necessary changes.

Editing also helps you to catch grammar mistakes, spelling errors, and typos. A single error can easily ruin an entire essay, so it’s essential to go over the paper and make sure everything is perfect. This can only be done by editing the paper carefully.

Finally, editing can help you to make sure that the essay is coherent and well-written. After writing the paper , you might realize that the introduction and conclusion don’t match up, or that two paragraphs contradict each other. Editing will help you to identify such issues and make the necessary adjustments.

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of editing, let’s look at how to approach it effectively. The first step is to read the entire essay through once without making any changes. This should give you a good overview of the paper and allow you to spot any major issues. The next step is to go through the paper again and make notes as you go along.

You should pay particular attention to grammar, spelling, typos, and structure. Make a note of anything that stands out and needs to be changed. Don’t worry if you can’t fix it right away – just write it down and come back to it later. The goal is to get an overall picture of what needs to be done.

Finally, it’s time to make the actual changes. Take your time and read each sentence carefully before you make any changes. Don’t be afraid to delete or add content between paragraphs to ensure that the essay flows naturally.

In summary, editing is an essential step in the essay-writing process. It offers many benefits, including the ability to look at the essay objectively, catch grammar mistakes and typos, and ensure that the essay is coherent and well-written. When approaching the editing phase, it’s important to read the paper through once without making any changes, make notes as you go, and take your time when making the actual changes.

Formatting – Adhering to Academic Standards

Formatting your essay correctly is a critical step in the writing process. It shows that you have taken care to put together an essay that follows the academic standards.

Here are a few tips for formatting your essay according to academic standards:

  • Make sure the margins of your essay are set to one inch on all sides.
  • Your font should be size 12 Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Use double spacing between lines, and make sure there is no extra space before or after each paragraph.
  • When quoting direct text, indenting it five spaces will make it easier to read.
  • Include a header at the top of your document that includes the title of the essay, your name, and the page number.

Formatted correctly, your essay will present itself as concise, organized, and professional. This is a must when following academic standards.

If you want to ensure that your essay looks even better, check with your professor for specific formatting requirements for your assignment.

By taking the time to properly format your essay, you are showing that you understand the importance of adhering to academic standards. This will help you get the best grades possible!

Understanding the Assignment

Writing an essay on a book can be quite a challenge for many students. One of the most important skills for tackling this task is to understand the assignment. To begin, students should read carefully and take notes on the writing prompt. Pay close attention to all the instructions as they are key to crafting an effective essay. This includes being mindful of any keywords or phrases in the prompt that will require further research.

When interpreting the instructions, it is also important to consider any extra guidelines or expectations the professor may have provided. These can include formatting, length, and specific areas of emphasis such as themes or characters. Questions such as ‘Who is the protagonist?’ or ‘How do the themes interact?’ should be actively considered while writing the essay. This helps produce a focused piece of work that is tailored to meet the requirements.

In addition, consider questions such as ‘What do I need to include?’ or ‘What is the purpose of this essay?’. Answering these questions allows students to identify their main points and develop an argument around them. This is a crucial step for forming an essay that is logical and cohesive.

Finally, students should always use the essay assignment to test their understanding of the book. It is often beneficial to leave time at the end of the writing process to review knowledge and reflect on any unanswered questions. Doing so ensures that the essay is comprehensive and addresses all aspects of the prompt.

Understanding the assignment is a vital step when writing an essay on a book. By paying attention to the prompt and any additional guidelines, students can ensure that their assignment is focused, detailed, and suitable for the task.

Effective Use of Quotes

Make sure your quote is relevant to the main argument of your essay.

Choose a quote that is engaging and thought-provoking.

Include the right amount of detail – don’t use too much or too little.

Explain the quote in your own words and provide context.

Think critically about the quote and how it applies to your argument.

Integrate the quote into your essay so that it flows naturally.

Tools for Writing an Essay on a Book

When writing an essay on a book there are certain tools that can help make the process easier. Knowing some of these basic terms and tools can help you write a better essay and make it much more enjoyable.

Creating an outline is one of the most important steps in writing an essay. It provides structure to your essay, ensuring that each point is made in the correct order and that the essay flows logically. Outlining also helps you stay organized and remember what needs to be included in the essay.

Doing research is important when writing an essay about a book. Read through the text and make notes about any interesting or pertinent information you find. Also, look for additional sources that can provide further insight into the book or the topics it raises.

Grammar and Spelling Checkers

Grammar and spelling checkers can be extremely useful when writing your essay. They can help you identify mistakes or typos that you may have missed. Double-check your work before you submit it to make sure it is as accurate and error-free as possible.

Writing Resources

Finally, there are many great writing resources available online that can provide further advice and guidance on how to write an effective essay. Look through examples of essays written by other students and learn from their techniques and approaches.

Knowing some of these basic terms and tools can help you get off to a strong start when writing an essay on a book. Do your research, create an outline, and use grammar and spelling checkers to make sure your work is as perfect as possible. Finally, don’t forget to look for other writing resources that can provide insight and advice.

Writing an essay on a book can be a daunting task, especially when attempting it for the first time. This guide aims to make the process of writing an essay on a book simple and easy-to-follow. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can make the process of writing your essay much easier.

A good conclusion should summarize the main points of the article, explain how to approach writing the final version, and reiterate why the content was important. To conclude your essay, start by summarizing the arguments and ideas that you presented throughout your paper. Then, move on to discussing why you chose to write the essay and the importance of studying the book. Finally, provide a brief statement that sums up the main points of the essay.

When writing the final version of your essay, there are some key points to keep in mind. First, proofread your work for any typos or errors. Make sure to properly cite any quotes or references that you used in your essay. Finally, consider having a peer review your essay to get another perspective and catch any mistakes that you might have missed.

Writing an essay on a book can be a rewarding experience when done correctly. The most important part of the process is to fully understand the material and the prompt. By following the steps outlined in this article and taking the time to research and plan, you can write an effective essay on a book.

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky is a devoted educator, marketing specialist, and management expert with more than 15 years of experience in the education sector. After obtaining his business degree in 2016, Nick embarked on a quest to achieve his PhD, driven by his commitment to enhancing education for students worldwide. His vast experience, starting in 2008, has established him as a reputable authority in the field.

Nick's article, featured in Routledge's " Entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe: Development through Internationalization ," highlights his sharp insights and unwavering dedication to advancing the educational landscape. Inspired by his personal motto, "Make education better," Nick's mission is to streamline students' lives and foster efficient learning. His inventive ideas and leadership have contributed to the transformation of numerous educational experiences, distinguishing him as a true innovator in his field.

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when writing about a book in an essay

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Q. How do I refer to a book by title in-text in APA format?

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Answered By: Gabe Gossett Last Updated: Jun 22, 2023     Views: 610609

The basic format for an in-text citation is: Title of the Book (Author Last Name, year).

One author: Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak, 1963) is a depiction of a child coping with his anger towards his mom.

Two authors (cite both names every time): Brabant and Mooney (1986) have used the comic strip to examine evidence of sex role stereotyping. OR The comic strip has been used to examine evidence of sex role stereotyping (Brabant & Mooney, 1986).

Three or more authors (cite the first author plus et al.): Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy (Clare et al., 2016) depicts a young man's experience at the Shadowhunter Academy, a place where being a former vampire is looked down upon.OR Clare et al. (2016) have crafted a unique story about a young man's journey to find himself.

No author: Cite the first few words of the reference entry (usually the title) and the year. Use double quotation marks around the title of an article or chapter, and italicize the title of a periodical, book, brochure, or report. Examples: From the book Study Guide (2000) ... or ("Reading," 1999).

Note: Titles of periodicals, books, brochures, or reports should be in italics and use normal title capitalization rules.

If you are citing multiple sources by multiple authors in-text, you can list all of them by the author's last name and year of publication within the same set of parentheses, separated by semicolons.

Example: (Adams, 1999; Jones & James, 2000; Miller, 1999)

For more information on how to cite books in-text and as a reference entry, see the APA Publication Manual (7th edition) Section 10.2 on pages 321-325 .

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Comments (13)

  • This was very useful for me! I was having a really hard time finding information on how to mention an article title AND the author in text in APA so this was very helpful!!! by Ryan Waddell on Jun 27, 2019
  • If I just mention that I used a book to teach a topic do I have to include it in the reference list? by Franw on Oct 17, 2019
  • @Franw, if it is a source that informs your paper in any way, or if your reader would have reason to look it up, then you should include a full reference list entry for the book. by Gabe [Research & Writing Studio] on Oct 18, 2019
  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding the question, but I think the OP is asking how to refer to a book title, not how to cite one. I believe APA uses quotation marks around book titles and MLA uses italics. by AB on Dec 12, 2019
  • @AB: The first sentence has been tweaked to clarify title of book usage, reflecting the examples given. For APA style you should use italics for book titles. It would be quotation marks. by Gabe [Research & Writing Studio] on Dec 12, 2019
  • Hi, can any one help me with in-text-citation of this, how can i cite it in the text Panel, I. L. (2002). Digital transformation: A framework for ICT literacy. Educational Testing Service, 1-53. by Milad on Aug 20, 2021
  • @Milad: In that case it would be (Panel, 2002). If you are quoting, or otherwise choosing to include page numbers, put a comma after the year, then p. and the page number(s). by Gabe Gossett on Aug 20, 2021
  • Hey, I'm a little bit curious, what if I'm mentioning a book and paraphrasing it but still want to give credit. Would I put the information into parenthesis instead? Like: Paraphrased info. ("Title in Italics" Author, year) by Kai on Sep 14, 2023
  • @Kai: Apologies for not seeing your question sooner! (Our academic year has not started yet). If I am understanding your question correctly, what I suggest is referring to the book title in the narrative of your writing, rather than in the in-text citation. I do not see an examples of using a book title in an in-text citation except for rare circumstances including citing a classic religious text or using the title when there is no author information because it is the start of your reference list entry. Basically, APA's in-text convention is supposed to make it easy for your reader to locate the source being cited in the reference list. So the first part of the in-text citation, usually authors, comes first to locate it alphabetically. Putting the book title first when you have an author name can throw that off. by Gabe Gossett on Sep 21, 2023
  • Perhaps this is along the lines of the response to Kai - Can you reference a book title as a common point of social understanding to demonstrate a common concept? Is official citing required if you use widely known titles such as "Where's Waldo" and "Who Moved My Cheese?" to make a point of illustration? by Chez Renee on Sep 30, 2023
  • @Chez: Aside from some classical religious texts, if it is a published book, I'd try to make sure that it is appropriately cited for APA style. That said, I think I understand where it gets tricky with things like Where's Waldo, since that is a series of books and stating "Where's Waldo" is a cultural reference many people would understand, though you can't reasonably cite the entire series. I don't believe that APA gives guidance for this particular issue. If it is being referred to in order to back up a claim, it would help to cite a particular book. If not, then it might work to use a statement such as, "Hanford's Where's Waldo series . . ." by Gabe Gossett on Oct 02, 2023
  • How to cite a dissertation thesis in apa form? by Elizabeth on Feb 05, 2024
  • @Elizabeth: For citing a dissertation or thesis you can check out our page answering that here https://askus.library.wwu.edu/faq/153308 by Gabe Gossett on Feb 05, 2024

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The Cowardice of Guernica

The literary magazine Guernica ’s decision to retract an essay about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reveals much about how the war is hardening human sentiment.

People looking at Guernica

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In the days after October 7, the writer and translator Joanna Chen spoke with a neighbor in Israel whose children were frightened by the constant sound of warplanes. “I tell them these are good booms,” the neighbor said to Chen with a grimace. “I understood the subtext,” Chen wrote later in an essay published in Guernica magazine on March 4, titled “From the Edges of a Broken World.” The booms were, of course, the Israeli army bombing Gaza, part of a campaign that has left at least 30,000 civilians and combatants dead so far.

The moment is just one observation in a much longer meditative piece of writing in which Chen weighs her principles—for years she has volunteered at a charity providing transportation for Palestinian children needing medical care, and works on Arabic and Hebrew translations to bridge cultural divides—against the more turbulent feelings of fear, inadequacy, and split allegiances that have cropped up for her after October 7, when 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage in Hamas’s assault on Israel. But the conversation with the neighbor is a sharp, novelistic, and telling moment. The mother, aware of the perversity of recasting bombs killing children mere miles away as “good booms,” does so anyway because she is a mother, and her children are frightened. The act, at once callous and caring, will stay with me.

Not with the readers of Guernica , though. The magazine , once a prominent publication for fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction, with a focus on global art and politics, quickly found itself imploding as its all-volunteer staff revolted over the essay. One of the magazine’s nonfiction editors posted on social media that she was leaving over Chen’s publication. “Parts of the essay felt particularly harmful and disorienting to read, such as the line where a person is quoted saying ‘I tell them these are good booms.’” Soon a poetry editor resigned as well, calling Chen’s essay a “horrific settler normalization essay”— settler here seeming to refer to all Israelis, because Chen does not live in the occupied territories. More staff members followed, including the senior nonfiction editor and one of the co-publishers (who criticized the essay as “a hand-wringing apologia for Zionism”). Amid this flurry of cascading outrage, on March 10 Guernica pulled the essay from its website, with the note: “ Guernica regrets having published this piece, and has retracted it. A more fulsome explanation will follow.” As of today, this explanation is still pending, and my request for comment from the editor in chief, Jina Moore Ngarambe, has gone unanswered.

Read: Beware the language that erases reality

Blowups at literary journals are not the most pressing news of the day, but the incident at Guernica reveals the extent to which elite American literary outlets may now be beholden to the narrowest polemical and moralistic approaches to literature. After the publication of Chen’s essay, a parade of mutual incomprehension occurred across social media, with pro-Palestine writers announcing what they declared to be the self-evident awfulness of the essay (publishing the essay made Guernica “a pillar of eugenicist white colonialism masquerading as goodness,” wrote one of the now-former editors), while reader after reader who came to it because of the controversy—an archived version can still be accessed—commented that they didn’t understand what was objectionable. One reader seemed to have mistakenly assumed that Guernica had pulled the essay in response to pressure from pro-Israel critics. “Oh buddy you can’t have your civilian population empathizing with the people you’re ethnically cleansing,” he wrote, with obvious sarcasm. When another reader pointed out that he had it backwards, he responded, “This chain of events is bizarre.”

Some people saw anti-Semitism in the decision. James Palmer, a deputy editor of Foreign Policy , noted how absurd it was to suggest that the author approved of the “good bombs” sentiment, and wrote that the outcry was “one step toward trying to exclude Jews from discourse altogether.” And it is hard not to see some anti-Semitism at play. One of the resigning editors claimed that the essay “includes random untrue fantasies about Hamas and centers the suffering of oppressors” (Chen briefly mentions the well-documented atrocities of October 7; caring for an Israeli family that lost a daughter, son-in-law, and nephew; and her worries about the fate of Palestinians she knows who have links to Israel).

Madhuri Sastry, one of the co-publishers, notes in her resignation post that she’d earlier successfully insisted on barring a previous essay of Chen’s from the magazine’s Voices on Palestine compilation. In that same compilation, Guernica chose to include an interview with Alice Walker, the author of a poem that asks “Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of Jews,” and who once recommended to readers of The New York Times a book that claims that “a small Jewish clique” helped plan the Russian Revolution, World Wars I and II, and “coldly calculated” the Holocaust. No one at Guernica publicly resigned over the magazine’s association with Walker.

However, to merely dismiss all of the critics out of hand as insane or intolerant or anti-Semitic would ironically run counter to the spirit of Chen’s essay itself. She writes of her desire to reach out to those on the other side of the conflict, people she’s worked with or known and who would be angered or horrified by some of the other experiences she relates in the essay, such as the conversation about the “good booms.” Given the realities of the conflict, she knows this attempt to connect is just a first step, and an often-frustrating one. Writing to a Palestinian she’d once worked with as a reporter, she laments her failure to come up with something meaningful to say: “I also felt stupid—this was war, and whether I liked it or not, Nuha and I were standing at opposite ends of the very bridge I hoped to cross. I had been naive … I was inadequate.” In another scene, she notes how even before October 7, when groups of Palestinians and Israelis joined together to share their stories, their goodwill failed “to straddle the chasm that divided us.”

Read: Why activism leads to so much bad writing

After the publication of Chen’s essay, one writer after another pulled their work from the magazine. One wrote, “I will not allow my work to be curated alongside settler angst,” while another, the Texas-based Palestinian American poet Fady Joudah, wrote that Chen’s essay “is humiliating to Palestinians in any time let alone during a genocide. An essay as if a dispatch from a colonial century ago. Oh how good you are to the natives.” I find it hard to read the essay that way, but it would be a mistake, as Chen herself suggests, to ignore such sentiments. For those who more naturally sympathize with the Israeli mother than the Gazan hiding from the bombs, these responses exist across that chasm Chen describes, one that empathy alone is incapable of bridging.

That doesn’t mean empathy isn’t a start, though. Which is why the retraction of the article is more than an act of cowardice and a betrayal of a writer whose work the magazine shepherded to publication. It’s a betrayal of the task of literature, which cannot end wars but can help us see why people wage them, oppose them, or become complicit in them.

Empathy here does not justify or condemn. Empathy is just a tool. The writer needs it to accurately depict their subject; the peacemaker needs it to be able to trace the possibilities for negotiation; even the soldier needs it to understand his adversary. Before we act, we must see war’s human terrain in all its complexity, no matter how disorienting and painful that might be. Which means seeing Israelis as well as Palestinians—and not simply the mother comforting her children as the bombs fall and the essayist reaching out across the divide, but far harsher and more unsettling perspectives. Peace is not made between angels and demons but between human beings, and the real hell of life, as Jean Renoir once noted, is that everybody has their reasons. If your journal can’t publish work that deals with such messy realities, then your editors might as well resign, because you’ve turned your back on literature.

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when writing about a book in an essay

Dallas’ Joaquín Zihuatanejo discusses his erasure of white stories in new poem collection

S cattered words and white spaces. That’s what it looks like to flip through Dallas Poet Laureate Joaquín Zihuatanejo’s newest book, Occupy Whiteness .

The book is a collection of short poems and essays that Zihuatanejo wrote using a technique he calls hybrid erasure. In this interview, he talks about his process writing the book, using his upbringing in East Dallas as inspiration and what he hopes readers take away from this work.

Could you tell me a little bit about the process you went through while writing this book?

I was on a flight, and in front of me I noticed whoever was there on the flight before me left something in the pocket. I opened it up, and it was just a bookstore bag with a $7.95 novel in it. Rather than alert the stewardess – we were already in the air – I thought, this is the universe gifting me a book.

I saw the “about the author” and the name, and it was a sort of nondescript, white male author. When I looked at the cover and read the blurb on the back, it didn’t seem like anything I would ever read or want to read.

I’m going to listen to the universe, and I’m going to start reading this novel from Page 1. And I did, and it wasn’t very good. I got to about Page 61 or 62 and then for whatever reason, that page just jumped out at my eye. It had to do with an array of words that jumped off the page. One of the words was the word “obsidian,” which is a beautiful word.

On that same page was the word glass. And on that same page was the word fried, which is an interesting word to be, you know, on a page. My wife, for whatever reason, placed in my backpack a pack of whiteout markers. I tore out that page and I started whiting out words to leave just a handful of words floating on a sea of white space.

I started counting down the number of lines they were in, the number of spaces that were placed on that particular page. I started counting out lines and trying to re-create those words in white space, where they were on the page that I had colonized them from.

This poem, “View From the Fifth Floor of The Adam Hats building,” started forming. It’s a poem about the erasure of a neighborhood, the erasure of Old East Dallas.

This poem started as an act of revolution against this act of erasure that happened in my city. Immediately after I wrote the first poem I thought to myself, “Well, there’s been an act of brown erasure in our country that’s been going on,” and I wanted to address that.

I wanted this book to move beyond East Dallas and beyond Dallas, but to the entire scope of what a brown existence is, especially a brown existence in a border state.

I had to read countless books by white male authors to look for something to erase, to take something that’s maybe not beautiful, to turn into something that’s beautiful.

Could you share who some of these white authors were?

I contacted a former professor who worked with me during my master’s program. This is near the conclusion of the book, “A conversation with a native poet at a prestigious MFA program.”

Me: So I’ve been thinking about whether or not to cite the novels and works of nonfiction by the white male authors I’ve been destroying to create these hybrid erasures. My gut says no. I just want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. What do you think I should do?

Professor: Joaquin, you have deconstructed the original source in a way that has become something entirely new. This is more than erasure. It’s obliteration followed by creation. Twelve isolated words pulled from a 300-page novel does not warrant a citation.

Me: I see your point.

Professor: And again, if the roles were reversed. Do you think a white male author would acknowledge you? And there’s something else to consider inside and outside of the literary world. When have you ever felt acknowledged by a white man in your life?

Me: [silent for several seconds.]

Professor: Sounds like you have your answer.

I have the list and I have the original, like, every poem goes through multiple drafts. So my first draft of every one of these poems started with five isolated words on a page, or 12 isolated words on a page, and then became what it was. I have a notation page of all the sources that I pulled from, but I’m not going to share with anyone because this book is not about those men.

In your book, you talk a lot about your life in East Dallas, and it inspired a lot of the essays in there. And, some of those stories are, like, so touching.

Yeah, you know, a couple things about the essays. I will say this, the book has what I’m calling micro essays that are these sort of short, five-word, singular, minuscule essays. Then there’s these longer-form essays that are in it as well. This was not my idea. This was the idea of Seb, my editor Sebastián Páramo at Deep Vellum. They said to me, “Joaquin, you know, these hybrid erasures are exciting, and I’m so thrilled to be working with you on the process.” They said to me, “What if we explore hybridity even more and we insert things into this book of poems that are not poems with intent, with purpose?”

I was thrilled at this idea because I’d been writing this collection of essays for a long time, micro and long, that I was calling tentatively on my laptop. It’s titled Esé and it’s a collection of essays. In my mind, it was a great title at the beginning, but I’m not crazy about it now. I think it’s clever. I said, “I’ve been writing a lot of essays, and I think I could pull a handful that would fit with this collection.” Seb said, “Let’s do it.” And, I said, “I’m in on one condition: I want the micro essays and the longer essays to be undocumented. I want them to be unnamed and undocumented in the table of contents, meaning there will be pieces in this book that are undocumented, but they are just as important as the documented poems that have names and have documentation in the table of contents.” I said, “That must happen.” And they said, “We’re in.”

Then I called them back that evening and I said, “I have another condition.” And they said, “What’s the condition?” I said, “I remember I was at the literary festival one time in Monterrey, and a writer said to me, this work needs to be in your grandfather’s language and yours, it should be in Spanish and English.” And that’s always resonated with me. And I said, “I’ll insert the essays and the micro essays in the book if they can be undocumented and unnamed, and if we can get them translated into Spanish and have the Spanish occur first in the book and then be translated into English.” Seb loved that idea as well.

I like that you mentioned publishing it in Spanish and in English, because when I first was going through the book, I was reading the Spanish side first. And my Spanish is so bad, I’m there, reading it out loud and I don’t understand it. And I just flipped it and like, oh, never mind, the English side is right here.

It’s funny because someone got the book the other day from me and they said, “Joaquin, I’m using your essays and micro essays to help me with my Spanish.” And this was a Latino who said that to me. And I thought, “That’s amazing,” because I struggle with Spanish. My grandfather and my grandmother were fluent. My mom was good. And then I was just OK.

When we got Brian [Duran-Fuentes] to join the team and help us with the translation, I was so proud, you know. I think back to that poet saying to me, “These need to be in your grandfather’s language as well as yours.”

I really thought, “I can share this with my mom,” which is such a cool experience that she can read something that I’m reading as well.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do, as Dallas Poet Laureate, is to cross-pollinate communities and audiences. What a beautiful thing poetry is that it connects us to our shared humanity with one another. I’m hoping that this collection does agitate some people to think, to feel, to move, to act.

I’m also hoping that it connects people, and it makes people realize just how precious life is and how extraordinary life is, and how beautiful brown life is, and how worthy brown life is. That’s what I want this book to give to the world.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Arts Access is an arts journalism collaboration powered by The Dallas Morning News and KERA.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, Communities Foundation of Texas, The University of Texas at Dallas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabef and The Meadows Foundation. The News and KERA retain full editorial control of Arts Access’ journalism.

©2024 The Dallas Morning News. Visit dallasnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Dallas’ poet laureate Joaquín Zihuatanejo at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.

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  1. How to write a good essay paper on a book

    when writing about a book in an essay

  2. How to Write a Book and Get it Published

    when writing about a book in an essay

  3. How To Write A Book Title In An Essay

    when writing about a book in an essay

  4. How to write a book in 30 days: 8 key tips

    when writing about a book in an essay

  5. A one-post guide to what a book manuscript should look like

    when writing about a book in an essay

  6. Write an essay on book || Essay writing || English

    when writing about a book in an essay



  2. Lesson 6: Writing a Book or Article Critique

  3. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?

  4. English Essay: How to Write about ANY Essay Topic

  5. How to Write an Essay: 4 Minute Step-by-step Guide

  6. How I wrote 1st class essays at Cambridge University (how to write the best essay)


  1. 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 ...

  2. How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

    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 ...

  3. 4 Ways to Write a Book Name in an Essay

    1. Capitalize the first letter of all nouns, verbs, and adjectives in the book name. Most words in the book name will be capitalized. In addition to the first word, you'll capitalize every significant word. [1] For example, you would write To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings, or Wuthering Heights. 2.

  4. How to Start an Essay About a Book: A Comprehensive Guide

    Here are essential steps to guide you through the process: 1. Understand the Book's Context and Significance. To create an impactful introduction, begin by understanding the book's historical context, the author's background, and the broader significance of the work. This contextual knowledge will help you establish the relevance of the ...

  5. 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.

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

    MLA Style. 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 ...

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

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

    Table of contents. Step 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices. Step 2: Coming up with a thesis. Step 3: Writing a title and introduction. Step 4: Writing the body of the essay. Step 5: Writing a conclusion. Other interesting articles.

  10. APA Style

    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).

  11. How to Format a Book Title in Writing: Step-by-Step Guide

    1. Novels: When formatting the title of a novel, it should be italicized to indicate that it's a standalone book. For example, "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Alternatively, you can also use quotation marks if italicizing is not an option, such as "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. 2.

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

    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.

  13. How to Write an Essay About a Book

    How to write an essay about a book - 8 key tips. 1. Read some analysis of the book in question. It is always better to read secondary literature first, otherwise, you may be confused while reading the book. 2. Read the book. Try to read as much as possible. If there is not enough time left, you may skip the passages which seem unimportant ...

  14. How to Write an Essay on a Book [Full Guide]

    Naturally, the main path to successfully writing an essay on a book is to more or less know the contents of the story. We're not talking about remembering every single character trait or knowing the gist of each internal monologue. Just focus on what you find alluring about the story, trying to create the idea from a scene that you enjoy in ...

  15. Crafting an Expository Essay About a Book: Examples & Steps

    Writing an expository essay about a book can be a fun and educational way to explore the meaning of literature. It allows you to analyze the author's writing style, themes, or various other aspects of a book. In such an essay, you are expected to choose a particular aspect of a book and write an essay discussing that aspect in detail. ...

  16. A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing an Essay on a Book

    Writing an essay on a book can be a daunting task, especially when attempting it for the first time. This guide aims to make the process of writing an essay on a book simple and easy-to-follow. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can make the process of writing your essay much easier.

  17. How to Write a Great Book Introduction: Step-by-Step Guide

    How to Write a Great Book Introduction: Step-by-Step Guide. Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Jul 29, 2021 • 2 min read. Many nonfiction books begin with an introduction that previews their subject matter, structure, and core arguments. When properly crafted, a book introduction invites potential readers to invest in its content.

  18. Q. How do I refer to a book by title in-text in APA format?

    The basic format for an in-text citation is: Title of the Book (Author Last Name, year). Examples. One author: Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak, 1963) is a depiction of a child coping with his anger towards his mom. Two authors (cite both names every time): Brabant and Mooney (1986) have used the comic strip to examine evidence of sex role stereotyping.

  19. The Cowardice of Guernica

    After the publication of Chen's essay, a parade of mutual incomprehension occurred across social media, with pro-Palestine writers announcing what they declared to be the self-evident awfulness ...

  20. AI Essay Writer

    Our AI essay writer is fully loaded and ready to amplify your productivity and creativity. From instantaneous content generation to multilingual versatility, this AI essay generator transforms the daunting task of essay writing into a streamlined, stress-free process. Discover the transformative benefits that await you with EssayGPT.

  21. Niche $10,000 "No Essay" Scholarship

    Help cover the cost of college without writing a single essay! Niche is giving one student $10,000 to help pay for tuition, housing, books and other college expenses — no essay required! Apply below for your chance to win so you can focus on your education, not your finances. The winner will be selected by random drawing by April 15, 2024. Good luck!

  22. Dallas' Joaquín Zihuatanejo discusses his erasure of white ...

    In your book, you talk a lot about your life in East Dallas, and it inspired a lot of the essays in there. And, some of those stories are, like, so touching. Yeah, you know, a couple things about ...

  23. Buy Essay Online: 5 Best Sites to Purchase Cheap College Papers

    The prices for essay writing services vary significantly from one company to another. On average, a professional writer with an advanced degree and extensive experience charges between $10 and $30 ...