Titles: Underline, Italics, or Quotations?
(printable version here)
When writing about other works, it's hard to decide when to underline (or place in italics) a title and when to place it in double quotations. Note that some publications have a "house style" that must be followed. When in doubt, however, these guidelines from the Modern Language Association may help:
For titles of written or musical works that are published within other works use double quotations; underline or italicize names of works published by themselves:
ex. I just read the short story "Looking for Jake" in China Miéville's anthology of the same name, Looking for Jake.
ex. Beckett's play Waiting for Godot will be performed next season.
ex. Devo's second album, Duty Now for the Future, has one of my favorite songs, "Swelling Itching Brain."
ex. Yes, I went to a science-fiction convention. I really enjoy the original Star Trek TV series, especially the episode "Return of the Archons," and the first three Star Wars films, especially The Empire Strikes Back, okay?
ex. I read the story "All about the Bronx" in the city section of today's New York Times.
ex. I have subscribed to my favorite magazine, The Atlantic, for many years.
For names of artwork, always use italics or underlining:
ex. We have a copy of Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks in the Writing Center lobby. I always think about it when I'm listening to Tom Wait's CD Nighthawks at the Diner.
For the names of famous aircraft, ships, and spacecraft, always use italics or underlining:
ex. I built scale models of the USS Nimitz and the space shuttle Discovery last year.
ex. The Bible, Book of Exodus, or Qu'ran do not get underlined in the text of a paper. A specific edition would, however, be underlined in a works-cited list. Their titles are capitalized.
Back to 'Sentence Structure and Mechanics', 'Punctuation', or 'Using Sources'
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Longer written works include books, full-length plays, films, longer musical compositions, and periodicals.
Incorrect (speaking of the musical): I like Oklahoma.
Incorrect: I like "Oklahoma."
Correct: I like Oklahoma. OR
I like Oklahoma.
(The title of a longer work is italicized or underlined.)
Correct: I liked Macbeth, but not Macbeth.
(I liked the play Macbeth, but not the character of that name.)
Correct:Time magazine carried a review of Blade Runner, the film based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
(The periodical, film, and book title are all italicized or underlined. Note that the question mark is italicized also because it is part of the title.)
Titles of radio and television series as well as works of art are underlined or italicized.
Correct: Rodin's The Thinker Correct: We used to watch reruns of Gilligan's Island. Correct: My favorite Star Trek episode is "The Trouble with Tribbles."
(Note the last one--the series is italicized; the episode is in quotation marks.)
See also Underlining and Italicizing, Italicized Names, and Titles with Quotation Marks.
If an italicized or underlined name or title appears in the title of a work or some other writing which is otherwise italicized or underlined, the writer has a choice:
1.Normally the specific item reverts to standard type. This is always done in bibliographies and formal references.
Example:A Commentary on Piers Plowman2. Or you may italicize or underline the title or otherwise italicized or underlined writing without regard to the further italicized words. This may be necessary to avoid confusion.
(Book title contains name of another book)
Example:A Commentary on Piers Plowman helped me understand that medieval work.
(Using the style of #1 for this would be more likely to confuse the reader.)