How To Punctuate Movie Titles In An Essay Mla Generator

It can be confusing to know which titles get italicized and which get quotation marks when citing them in your writing. An easy rule to remember is that short titles and sections of work, such as a chapter title in a book or an episode in a TV show, get quotation marks while larger titles or works, such as a book title or an album, are italicized. However, which one you use may depend on the style and format of writing you are following.

Why Use Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles?

Italics and quotation marks are generally used to set a composition title apart from the text surrounding it. For example, if you were writing the sentence "I read The Cat in the Hat," it wouldn't necessarily be clear what the title was, or even that there was a title at all.

So, italics and quotation marks make the title stand out. A sentence such as "I read The Cat in the Hat" or "I read "The Cat in the Hat" today" is a lot clearer.

Should you set off a title with italics or should you set it off with quotation marks? Well, there are rules for that.

Rules for Using Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles

There are several different writing style guides: The Modern Language Association (MLA) is the style generally used in arts and humanities papers; the American Psychological Association (APA) is used for social sciences; the Associated Press Stylebook (AP) is commonly used in magazines, newspapers and the internet; and the Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago), one of the most well-known formats, is followed in a wide variety of disciplines from publishing to science. 

Each of the style guides have their own rules when it comes to formatting titles. AP style is one of the simpler styles to remember, as it does not use italics in composition titles at all.

All formats except AP recommend the following titles should be in italics:

  • Ballets, Operas, Symphonies
  • Cartoons
  • Comic strips
  • Exhibitions at a museum
  • Paintings
  • Sculptures
  • Ships
  • Aircraft and spacecraft
  • Books
  • Plays
  • Pamphlets
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Journals
  • Films
  • Albums

All formats except APA recommend that the following titles should be in quotation marks:

  • Book chapters
  • Names of video games
  • Single episodes of TV and radio shows
  • Unpublished writing such as manuscripts or lectures
  • Album tracks or singles
  • Podcast episodes
  • Short stories and poems

APA differs from other formats in that it does not use either quotation marks or italics for titles of shorter works, such as essays that are in collections, lectures or journal articles. These shorter works are formatted in regular type.

MLA and Chicago, while agreeing on most citation styles, diverge on some points. In MLA the titles of online databases should be italicized; Chicago style says to set those in regular type. MLA says that all websites should be italicized while Chicago style says they should be in regular type.

When Not to Use Italics or Quotation Marks

There are certain titles of things that should not be in italics or quotation marks. The following titles should always be set in regular type:

  • Scriptures of major religions
  • Constitutional documents
  • Legal documents
  • Traditional games (such as football, hopscotch or blackjack)
  • Software
  • Commercial products (such as Cocoa Puffs)
  • Awards
  • Political documents
  • Names of artifacts
  • Names of buildings

Print and Online Style Differences

Italicizing is easy to do on the computer, but not practical when you are hand writing something. In such cases, underlining is still used and is the same as writing a title in italics.

When formatting titles for the web, be aware that you should go with whatever style is most visually appealing. Online formats tend to be less formal in style compared to print materials. Styling for the web is about attracting visitors to the site so make the title stand out without looking clunky in order to get more attention.

Determine What to Use

By practicing the above rules for using italics and quotation marks you will find that it will become easier to determine what you should use. If you are uncertain about what to use, ask yourself if the title of a work appears inside a larger body of work or if it can stand alone. If the title belongs inside a larger body of work, use quotation marks. If the title is for a body of work that stands alone, it should be in italics. And remember that consistency is key, whichever style you choose.

To learn about which words should be capitalized in a title read YourDictionary's article on Rules for Capitalization in Titles.

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Using Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles

By YourDictionary

It can be confusing to know which titles get italicized and which get quotation marks when citing them in your writing. An easy rule to remember is that short titles and sections of work, such as a chapter title in a book or an episode in a TV show, get quotation marks while larger titles or works, such as a book title or an album, are italicized. However, which one you use may depend on the style and format of writing you are following.

Properly Punctuating Titles

Properly punctuating titles of literature, music, art, movies, and other works can be confusing, and the rules aren’t always consistent from resource to resource regarding this topic. Also, since mistakes are prevalent, we are so used to seeing the wrong punctuation that it actually looks right!

Here are some helpful hints on how to properly punctuate titles using capitalization, italics, underlining, and quotation marks.

Step 1, Capitalize Titles Correctly!

Although rules regarding correct title capitalization vary greatly, here are a few pointers to stand by:  Capitalize the first and last word in a title and every word in the title except articles and prepositions. Some suggest capitalizing prepositions five letters or more in length, and I agree with this simply because it looks better (hence, my business name is All About Writing instead of All about Writing).

Capitalizing involves only the first letter of the word, of course.

When to Use Italics: Titles of Larger Works

Italics indicate the title of a major or larger work. Use italics for titles such as books, novels, magazines, journals, newspapers, and book-length poems, collections and anthologies; CDs, albums, ballets, operas, and longer, classical music compositions; television series,  plays, movies, and films; video games; websites; and works of art and art exhibits.

Just remember, the title of any piece that stands alone as a single, unified work should be italicized.

What About Underlining?

In general, underlining and italics are used interchangeably, so the above rules for italics also apply for underlining.

However, when using the computer or typing, italics should always be used. Underlining should replace italics in handwritten projects only, as who has mastered the art of writing in italics so that it is legible and noticeable?

When to Use Quotation Marks: Titles of Smaller Works

Since quotation marks are tiny, you can remember that they are used for smaller works within the larger work or collection. Use quotation marks for titles of poems, short stories, book chapters, and articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers; and songs, single television episodes, and commercials.

It is important to be consistent throughout your writing with properly using italics versus quotation marks. Writing handbooks (Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, APA, and many others) vary in their rules for capitalizing and punctuating titles. Certain writing projects mandate using one writing handbook’s format over the others, so for academic work, please check with your professor as to the preferred handbook to use for your writing, citation, and punctuation guidelines.

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Remember, All About Writing is here to help with writing, editing and proofreading. We can see you through your writing project, start to finish, and we never mind providing advice when writing questions arise. As always, all of our services offer a free, half-hour, in-person consultation in the Howell area to address any questions or concerns about your project.

Learn more about All About Writing and owner Christa Riddle at www.allaboutwritingconsulting.com. Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away! Call us today to schedule your free consultation and get your project underway. We are here to assist with any phase of the project.

-by Christa Riddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

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