Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →

Properly Format Your Titles: Underlines, Italics, and Quotes

Formatting titles gives some writers a headache. Should the title of songs, stories, movies, books, screenplays, etc. be in italics or quotes? When you’re trying to remember if you’re supposed to use underlining or italics or quotation marks for titles, here are a few simple rules.

Remember that people used to type their work or write it longhand. When titles needed to be italicized, italics were represented by underlining. These days, many people avoid underlining to minimize confusion between words that are underlined and hyperlinks.

1) Underlining and italics serve the same purpose. Never do both. Do NOT use quotation marks, underline, or italics together.

2) For any work that stands on its own, you should use italics or underline. (Stories or chapters from within a book are considered PARTS of the book.)

3) A work that is part of a larger work goes in quotation marks.

Like our insider info and writing advice?

Then you’ll love the many other ways Writer’s Relief can help!

From effectively targeting markets, writing dynamic query letters, building authors’ online platforms, and much more—find out how Writer’s Relief can boost your exposure and maximize your acceptance rate.

4) No quotation marks around titles of your own composition.

Books: Italics or Underline

CDs: Italics or Underline

Articles (Newspaper or Magazine): Quotation Marks

Chapter Titles (not chapter numbers): Quotation Marks

Magazines, Newspapers, Journals: Italics or Underline

Names of Ships, Trains, Airplanes, Spacecraft: Italics

Poems: Quotation Marks

Poems (Long): Underlined or Italics

Plays: Italics

Short Stories: Quotation Marks

Song Titles: Quotation Marks

Special Phrases (“let them eat cake”), Words, or Sentences: Quotation Marks

Television Shows and Movies: Italics

Television and Radio Episode Titles: Quotation Marks

Knowing when to use quotes, italics, or underlining can be difficult. Writer’s Relief proofreaders can help you proofread your creative writing submissions to be sure your titles are properly formatted.

19 Responses to Properly Format Your Titles: Underlines, Italics, and Quotes

  1. Formatting needs to adjust for social media, italics aand underline doesn’t work across platforms…. we’re living in the internet age still ruled by the before Internet age period. As of yet unnamed. Please some one fix this and also think of a name. Thx

  2. Samuel is correct. You may underline, italicize, or put a quotation mark around the desired title of a book. Many people, (at first,) used to underline the titles of books. People now tend to italicize or put a quotation mark around a title of a book.

  3. this was a really nice resource for writing a paper that drew on multiple types of resources, thanks. only thing I didn’t find was formatting for movies!

Leave a reply

Learn More
Live Chat Software


This page was chock-full of great info...
and there's so much more here to help you meet your publishing goals!

Be sure to sign up for our FREE guides as you enter each site.

For advice, marketing ideas, and step-by-step guidance through the self-publishing process!

Featuring smart ways to boost your online presence, build your author website, or improve your existing website.

For everything you need to know about writing, preparing, and targeting submissions to literary agents and editors!

Free Publishing Leads and Tips

Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, will be delivered weekly to your inbox.

Join the 50,000+ writers who receive:

  • FREE submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • And much more!

Close this popup

Sign up Today!

BONUS: Receive a free copy of formatting guidelines—our gift to you!

We promise not to share your information.