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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.

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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.

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