sallyhanan’s blog

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Titles—use italics, quotation marks or roman? August 29, 2009

Filed under: Editing,Writing — sallyhanan @ 11:43 pm
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Most people get confused when they have to write the names of works. We all know about capital letters, but are the titles written in italics or left alone or set inside quotation marks?

The Chicago Manual of Style says the following about how to write these into pieces of writing:

Holy books are not italicized, i.e.
The Bible
The Verdas

Books, journals, plays, newspapers (and sections of a newspaper that are published separately) are italicized. Even if the is part of the official title, it must be lowercased unless it begins a sentence or is an official foreign language title.
She loved catching up on news with the Daily Mail.
El Confidencial had a good article in it today.

When the newspaper or periodical has a name that is the name of a building or organization or prize, it is not italicized.
The Tribune Tower unveiled a new column last week.

An italicized title within a title stays italicized but is set in quotation marks.
Insights on Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”

Titles of book series are not italicized.
the Harry Potter series

Parts of long poems or scenes of plays are given no special treatment.
act 2, scene 1

Movies, radio and television programs are italicized.

Ever After is my favorite movie.

Single episodes are set inside quotation marks.
“The Pilot, Part 1” of Seinfeld imitated the show.

Formal names of TV and cable channels are left alone.
the Barker channel

Stories, short essays, poems, articles; and parts, chapters, sections of longer works are enclosed in quotation marks.

Sally Hanan’s story “I Have a Gift” is in her book Joy in a Box (forthcoming).

If single books are put into a collection as one volume, the volume is italicized when quoted.
Toronto is a collection of most of the stories that Ernest Hemingway wrote as a stringer . . . between 1920 and 1924.

Unpublished works like lectures, theses, speeches, manuscripts are put inside quotation marks.

Titles of books about to be published are italicized, with the word forthcoming in parentheses after them.
Tibetan Weddings in Ne’u na Village (forthcoming)

Web site titles are left alone.

Musical works, artworks, and cartoon strips are italicized

Titles of songs are set inside quotation marks. Performers’ names are left alone.
Wide Awake’s song “Maybe Tonight, Maybe Tomorrow” is on their album Something That We Can’t Let Go.

Titles of paintings, drawings, and statues are italicized but the really old ones (whose creators are mostly unknown) are enclosed in quotation marks.

Garfield was created by Jim Davis.

So, to summarize, the big titles are usually going to be in italics. The smaller and not-so-important ones will usually be in quotation marks.



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5 Responses to “Titles—use italics, quotation marks or roman?”

  1. Bobbi Says:

    If I have words in italics and there are quote marks should the quote marks also be italic.

  2. Joel Says:

    Hey there,

    I’m not sure about not italicizing the ‘Harry Potter’ series. It’s a series of a specific book—’Harry Potter’. The only time it would make sense not to italicize Harry Potter if you were referring to the the boy wizard whose namesake has been used in a book series. But, as it is, if you were writing about the book as a titled publication, you should italicize it.

    Your thoughts?

  3. Misty Says:

    Thanks for the heads up. Didn’t really know the rule.

  4. Kelsey Says:

    I’ve wondered about this before. Thanks for the illumination!

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