The question of correct punctuation of titles can be annoying, like a toothache. You can ignore the problem, waiting for the next spasm of pain when you need to mention a new title in your paper. However, it is better to take timely measures. This quick guide will quickly become your universal solution for all problems with using titles in your papers.

Punctuating Titles of Small and Big Things

The universal rule for punctuating titles in your papers is to differentiate between small and big things. Every time you are going to mention the name of a book, article or any artwork in your paper, you should ask yourself whether it is a part or a whole.

Quotation marks (“”) are used for citing small things, which are a part of a whole. For example:

  • the title of a poem: “Song about Myself”;
  • a short story: “The Black Cat”;
  • a song: “Paparazzi”;
  • an article in a journal: “Best stress-coping strategies”;
  • an episode in a series: “The One with the Baby on the Bus”.

Italics are used for citing big things, which are a whole:

  • a collection of poems: Leaves of Grass;
  • a collection of short stories: Tales of Terror;
  • an album or a CD disk: The Fame Monster;
  • a series: Friends.

Punctuating Titles in Different Citation Styles

When choosing how to punctuate titles, the first thing you should pay attention to is the citation style you are going to use throughout your papers. Different citation formats have different requirements for punctuating names of sources and artworks in the reference lists:

Citation style Type of source and punctuation Example
MLA
Book title – capitalized and italicized. The Lord of the Rings
Journal or magazine title – capitalized and italicized. Journal of Learning Disabilities
New York Times
Article title or chapter in a book – capitalized and between quotation marks. “Conflict Management Strategies”
APA
Book title – only first word capitalized, the entire title italicized. The lord of the rings
Journal or magazine title – capitalized and italicized. Journal of Learning Disabilities
New York Times
Article title or chapter in a book – only the first word capitalized. Conflict management strategies
Harvard
Book title – only the first word capitalized, the entire title italicized. The lord of the rings
Journal or magazine title – capitalized and italicized. Journal of Learning Disabilities
New York Times
Article title or chapter in a book – only the first word capitalized, single quotation marks are used. ‘Conflict management strategies’

Note that the updated edition of the MLA style does not use underlining for titles anymore. The underlining is already a thing of the past.

So, that was probably all you needed to know for citing different types of sources accurately, even with your eyes closed.

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