Formatting book titles can be tricky. Do you italicize? Do you put them in quotes? The answer is, it depends. In this blog post, we’ll give you a few guidelines to help you format your book titles correctly.
Using Quotation Marks
When using quotation marks, you want to be mindful of grammar rules so that you use them correctly. This includes making sure that other punctuation marks are placed in the correct order. For example, if you have a sentence that ends with a quoted book title, the period should always go after the closing parenthesis like this: We read “Jane Eyre” in class today.
If you have a parenthetical sentence that includes quoted material inside of it, then the comma should always go after the closing parenthesis like this: He suggested we read “Pride and Prejudice” (which we did).
The only time you would not use quotation marks around a book title is when you are writing an academic paper or essay and using the Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Psychological Association (APA) formatting style. In these cases, you would italicize the book title instead of using quotation marks.
Italics vs. Quotes
The general rule is that if the piece of work can stand alone as its own entity (e.g. a novel, play, or album), then it should be italicized. If the work is part of a larger work (e.g. a chapter in a book, an article in a magazine, or a song on an album), then it should be put in quotation marks.
Some examples of works that should be italicized:
- Novels: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Hunger Games
- Plays: Hamlet, Romeo, and Juliet
- Television Shows and Movies: Game of Thrones, Mean Girls
- Albums: Abbey Road, Dangerous Woman
- Sculptures and Buildings: the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower
Some examples of works that should be put in quotation marks:
- Chapters in books: “The Slytherin Common Room” in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “The Red Wedding” in A Song of Ice and Fire
- Articles in magazines and newspapers: “How to Train Your Dragon” in National Geographic, “Trump’s Taxes” in The New York Times
- Songs on an album: “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Queen’s Greatest Hits, “Sorry” on Justin Bieber’s Purpose
when referring to well-known works that are generally known by their title alone (e.g. the Bible or the Iliad), you don’t need to italicize or put them in quotes; you can just refer to them by name.
There are a few different schools of thought on this issue, but the general consensus is that you should only put book titles in quotes if they are part of a larger work (e.g. a chapter in an anthology) or if the title contains a quote itself. For example, you would put the following book titles in quotes:
- “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (part of a series)
- “To Kill a Mockingbird” (a novel with a quotation in its title)
- “The Sun Also Rises” (a novel with a quotation in its title)
If you’re unsure whether or not to put a book title in quotes, err on the side of caution and don’t do it. The last thing you want is for your readers to be distracted by incorrect punctuation!
We hope this blog post has helped clear up any confusion you may have had about how to properly format book titles in quotes. Remember, when in doubt, just leave the quotes out!
Titles can be tricky things to format—but hopefully this blog post has given you a better understanding of how to do it! In general, if the work can stand alone as its own entity, then it should be italicized; if it’s part of a larger work, then it should be put in quotation marks. There are always exceptions to rules (especially when it comes to something as subjective as title formatting!), but following these guidelines should help you most of the time.