Writing that involves mentioning titles can be confusing. You must learn when to enclose a title within quotation marks and when to italicize it. Word processors make it easy to italicize, but if you are clinging to the typewriter or writing in longhand, you can show italics by underlining the word. Adding to the confusion of knowing when you should italicize, underline or use quotation marks is that the rules come with some definite exceptions.
The titles of books should be italicized in most cases. This rule applies to novels, nonfiction books and collections of short stories, essays, or screenplays. When referring to a specific chapter within a book, place the name of the chapter inside quotation marks. The exception to this rule applies to books that are sacred, such as the Bible or Koran, as well as to chapters within sacred books, such as Exodus. In these cases, the title is neither italicized nor placed within quotation marks, but it is capitalized.
The rules regarding italicizing poetry titles can also cause confusion. In all cases, the title of a collection of poetry should be italicized, while the titles of individual poems should be placed within quotation marks. The main confusion arises in the form of individual poems found outside a collection. Titles of short poems are enclosed in quotation marks, but titles of long poems that stand alone as individual works of art should be italicized.
Plays, Movies and TV
Titles of plays, movies and television shows should all be italicized. The titles of individual episodes of a TV series should be placed within quotation marks. The title of a radio series should also be italicized. When referring to a character whose name is also the title of the film, play or TV series, you do not need to use italics.
Song titles should be placed within quotation marks, while titles of longer musical works should be italicized. For example, italicize the titles of operas, albums or a very long individual composition.
Magazines and Newspapers
Magazine titles and the names of newspapers should be italicized. Specific article titles within a periodical or newspaper need to be placed within quotation marks.
The titles of works of fine art need to be italicized. This rule applies to artwork regardless of the medium. The title of a painting would be italicized, just as the title of a sculpture would be italicized.
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