How do I handle book titles in my work? Do I underline them? Italicize them? Put them in quotes? —Bryan F.
This is one of those pesky questions that comes up all the time: Should I underline or italicize book titles in my writing? And it comes up for good reason: You can look at several different books, newspapers or magazine articles and see it handled several different ways. So which one is right?
The answer is: Probably all of them.
How you handle book titles in your work is a style choice not governed by grammarian law. The issue is addressed by the top stylebooks, but the answers vary.
According to the Chicago Manual of Style and the Modern Language Association, titles of books (and other complete works, such as newspapers and magazines), should be italicized. So if abiding by either of those guides, you’d italicize Stephen King’s The Shining, just as you would Vanity Fair and The Miami Herald (and Appetite for Destruction, if your protagonist is a Guns N’ Roses fan).
On the flip side, the AP Stylebook suggests that you use quotation marks around the names of books (with the exceptions of the Bible and catalogs of reference material, such as dictionaries and almanacs, which should not be styled in any way). So if you’re writing for a publication that adheres to AP guidelines, reference books with friendly quotation marks: “Eat, Pray, Love,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” and “Bossypants” (have I ever mentioned how much I love Tina Fey?).
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Some publications also follow their own style guides. Here at WD, for instance, we generally follow the AP Stylebook. But, as you can see if you peruse this issue, we break from it on this topic and italicize book titles. That’s our preferred house style.
So what does this mean for you? It means: Don’t worry about it too much. Just pick one way and stick with it for consistency purposes (for example, if you italicize the name of the book your character is reading on page one of your novel, make sure you italicize it on page 214, too). All publishers have their own style, so if you’re fortunate enough to get the work in question published, an editor will edit your story to fit her style preferences anyway. Your goal is to turn in a professional-looking manuscript, and consistency in your style is one key way to do that.
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.
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Underline? Quotation marks? Punctuation? Something else? What is the proper solution for writing title of a book in an essay? Does it really exist? And what rule should we stick to? We’re going to answer these and many more questions in the following article. So, make yourself comfortable and keep reading!
Proper Ways to Write Book Titles in The Essays
As time goes by the rules of writing are gradually changing. Things, which were acceptable and correct many years ago, are considered to be outdated today. The rules of writing and formatting have also changed a lot. For example, book titles. We can’t simply write a book title in our college essay if we don’t know principle rules and standards. This can be new to students, but not to their teachers, instructors, or any professional coursework writing service. So, let’s dip into the secrets and grammar rules of writing the titles of the books in your papers properly.
Professional educational associations and organizations recommend students to use italics to write the titles of the books. This rule applies to magazines and newspapers as well. For example, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, etc.
Other style guides allow using double quotation marks for the title of the books. For example, “The House of the Seven Gables” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, “The Great Gatsby” by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, etc. In this case, we do not use italics anymore. Only quotation marks.
Though there are different thoughts on how to write the title of the books properly, the main thing is to be consistent with one style through the whole essay. You can’t change italics in the first paragraph to double quotation marks in the second paragraph in the same essay. Just pick one of them.
Each word in the title of the book should be written with a capitalized letter, except prepositions like at, of, in, on, etc. For example, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote, “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf, “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories” by Norman Maclean, “Lord of the Flies” by William Gerald Golding, etc.
Generally, the capitalization rule is a must. But italics and double quotation marks depend on your personal or your teachers’ personal preference. However, some sources recommend using double quotation marks instead of italics if the book is a part of a larger work (story or poem collection). At the same time, they recommend using italics for independent works.
As we can see, each style guide (for example, craftresumes.com review) has its own preference and advice depending on the type and style of writing. It is always better to consult with your instructor or professor to make the right decision and to get the best possible result.