Grammar Titles of Books, Plays, Articles, etc.: Underline? Italics? Quotation Marks? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Titles of Books, Plays, Articles, etc.: Underline? Italics? Quotation Marks?

Prior to computers, people were taught to underline titles of books and plays and to surround chapters, articles, songs, and other shorter works in quotation marks. However, here is what The Chicago Manual of Style says: When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized; titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.

Below are some examples to help you:

We read A Separate Peace in class. (title of a book)

Example: That Time magazine article, “Your Brain on Drugs,” was fascinating.
Note that the word “magazine” was not italicized because that is not part of the actual name of the publication.

Example: His article, “Death by Dessert,” appeared in The New York Times Magazine.

Note that the and magazine are both capitalized and set off because the name of the publication is The New York Times Magazine.

Newspapers, which follow The Associated Press Stylebook, have their own sets of rules because italics cannot be sent through AP computers.

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

298 responses to “Titles of Books, Plays, Articles, etc.: Underline? Italics? Quotation Marks?”

  1. Jane says:

    His article, “Death by Dessert,” appeared … Commas are placed inside quotation marks in American English. The Associated Press Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style, and our Rule 4 of Quotation Marks all state that periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.

    • Dean Calin says:

      I find that this is one of the most common mistakes, due in part to the fact that in the British press the rule is the opposite of the American press.

      British: His article, ‘Death by Dessert’, appeared …
      American: His article, “Death by Dessert,” appeared …

      • As stated on the home page of our website, represents American English rules. Rule number 1 of quotation marks is that periods and commas always go inside quotation marks. You will have a very hard time finding any American reference books on punctuation that will advise otherwise.

      • PD says:

        I don’t know why everyone is getting so huffy. In US English we put the punctuation inside the quotes and in UK English they go outside. I’m a translator, and I translate other languages to both styles, it’s not that one is better or more correct, it’s just how we do things differently in different places. Geez, guys.

      • Jen says:

        I feel that it should be ‘Death by Desert’, with the comma after, because the comma is not part of the title.

      • Delaine Strandberg says:

        How do I replace underlined books or freestanding works when I do not have italics on my keyboard?
        How to I noe on internet grammar that I am using Chicago or American punctuation rather than an unknown and unpublished British grammar? I am constantly marked down for using other’s people writings and not my own or not havining any quotes, when I do, in my writing.

        • You should be able to use italics if you are using a computer. If you only have a typewriter, you may underline titles.

          If you are using the exact words of other persons or books, you should use quotation marks and provide citations identifying those sources.

    • Donna says:

      I just wanted to say that Jane is correct. Commas and periods go INSIDE the quote marks. Question marks and exclamation points go outside, unless they’re part of the quote. One of my English teachers (here in the U.S.) had a good way to remember this. Periods and commas are too small to stand outside the quote mark, they need to be inside.
      I also studied to be an English teacher…

      • We hope you do become an English teacher. Good ones can be inspirational for students.

      • Phyllis Bourque says:

        I suppose there could be endless discussion on this one grammar rule alone, but I thought the history of this rule is worth noting, so I offer the following information, which I have found on two different websites:

        “Periods and commas always go within the closing quotation marks because, in typesetting in the 1800s, the pieces of type for the comma and period were the most fragile and could easily break. Putting them within quotation marks — even when it isn’t logical — protected them. This is why this is often called typesetters’ rules.

        “In Canada and Britain, some periods and commas go within quotation marks when they belong to the speech within the marks. They go outside the quotation marks when the speech they belong to encompasses the quotation. This is called British style or logical punctuation.”

        The above is quoted from:

        It would seem that the right or wrong of this grammar rule is influenced by who you are writing to. This is similar in principal to the use of certain words such as labour vs labor, amongst vs among, or shall vs will–King’s English vs American English. I have done editing for both British and American publications, and I go by their respective rules.

        I would also like to say that this is a great website! I was looking for the punctuation rule on book titles. I have a writer who has written:

        In the book, “The Day is Dawning,” the author states…


        The Day is Dawning reveals a similarity between…

        In both occurrences he has correctly italicized the title. But in the first occurrence he has also enclosed the title in quotation marks. Is this correct just because the verbiage is different?


        • The typesetting rule is an interesting piece of history. Thanks for sharing. Regarding your writer, the book title should be in italics only in both cases, as stated in the above grammar tip.

      • Randall says:

        There is one standard exception to the U.S. or (as noted below) the Typesetter’s rule. That is, if putting the comma or period inside the quotation marks would confuse the meaning, put the comma or period outside the quotation. Examples of this would be legal language, technical specification or a computer string (e.g., a search string). However, even then, if the quoted passage is not the end of a sentence this irregular situation might be avoided by preceding the period with an ellipsis. (Which opens a new can of worms: How to set and space an ellipsis these days?) Or, in the case of a search string, it would be better to italicize it. That obviates the need for “Do not include the quotes.” Incidentally, the overall inside/outside rule applies applies whether a single or double quotation mark. And if one period is set outside the quotation mark for clarity or accuracy, other instances should follow the usual “inside-the-quotes” style.

        Apologies if I’ve overlooked someone who has already noted this.

      • Margery says:

        Thank you for clarifying this issue and for the mnemonic device.

      • A. T. W. says:

        Thank you Donna! I am taking a college proofreading exam at the moment and that helps me to stop questioning myself!

  2. Jennifer Paris says:

    I’m trying to find out how to punctuate a book with a subtitle. I’ve normally seen subtitles with a colon; however, there is no punctuation in the actual title of the book on the cover since it is on a separate line. In writing the title with both on the same line, how should I separate the two?


    • Bonnie Miller says:

      In a sentence containing a list of book or manuals, do you put quotes around the books and the manuals names? Are they italicized? What about articles and magazines?

      • As we mention in the post, book titles and magazine names are italicized, and articles are enclosed in quotation marks. Titles of published manuals are also italicized.

  3. Jane says:

    I’m not sure that I understand your question. I would recommend a colon to separate the title from the subtitle, particularly if both are on the same line.

    • Robert says:

      I have a question regarding an older device, specifically using the conjunction “or” to delineate subtitles in a book or a play.


      The Handsome Gentleman; or, The Frog was Kissed

      If you remember Rocky & Bullwinkle, they would often use this rather obscure convention. I believe many Restoration period plays utilized the same.

      Any advice on placement of ; and ,

      • The leading style manuals The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook do not appear to address this topic at all. However, we were able to find the following on the website of the National Library Service:

        Second title after or. Use a semicolon after the title, lowercase or, follow or with a comma. Do not use a semicolon after a question mark or exclamation point.
        One Fell Soup; or, I’m Just a Bug on the Windshield of Life
        What’s to Become of the Boy? or, Something to Do with Books

        Also note that, when quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized; titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.

    • Emma says:

      When you write a play title, do you underline it?
      What do you do when you write a poem title?

      • The Chicago Manual of Style says, “When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized; titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.” Therefore, use italics for play titles and quotation marks for titles of poems.

    • Linda G. says:

      How should a book title be set off within a callout that is already italicized as a design choice? Should the book title be set off as roman or in quotation marks? Thank you!

    • Tere says:

      what should i do to this sent.?>>>>> One of Michelle’s programs is the worldwide day of play.

  4. Liz says:

    What about when its a section, etc., within a larger document like policies or bylaws? For example, what would be correct if you were to type the following sentence? At the meeting, Policy 102 Dress Code, was revised as the committee requested.

    Thanks for your help.

  5. Lori says:

    My boss (attorney) always wants to put quotation marks around the titles of his pleadings when he references them in the text of the document. Is this correct?

    • Jane says:

      Yes, this is correct. However, capitalizing the titles of pleadings may be considered enough in terms of setting them off from the rest of the text.

  6. Addison says:

    I am writing an essay that includes the title of a film. Should this be in quotation marks and, if it appears at the end of the sentnce, should the period be inside the quotation marks?

    e.g. I was viewing the film “Spirited Away”.

    • Jane says:

      Quotation marks are fine; however, place the period inside the final quotation mark: “Spirited Away.”

      • Ann says:

        What if the title comes at the end of a sentence and is a question?
        EX: Have you seen the movie “Wild at Heart”?
        Question mark inside or outside the quotation mark?

        • says:

          Our Rule 5 of Question Marks says, “The placement of question marks with quotation marks follows logic. If a question is within the quoted material, a question mark should be placed inside the quotation marks.” In your example the question is outside the quoted material.

  7. Grammar Ericson says:

    I stumbled over this site when looking for the rule on puntuation of titles. As usual, when the site isn’t directly related to professional resources, I discovered an error. Jane said to put the comma and /or the period INSIDE the quotes. How WRONG! Now really, do you think the comma – or the period – is PART of the quote?!? Jane must not have been paying attention in her grammar classes. Also; since when does the use of computers change the rules of anything? They are merely tools of people. People need to learn what has been established as correct, especially when they turn to self-proclaimed experts for advice.

    • It can be very deflating to find out that a rule that we had once studied hard to learn is no longer valid. This may even result in outrage and “shooting the messenger.” Note that the period is inside the quotation marks. Languages evolve over time; rules governing grammar and punctuation change. That’s why we consult our “professional resources” before advising readers on the rules. Here is a typical entry from just one such respected source, The Associated Press Stylebook:
      “Follow these long-established printers’ rules:
      –The period and the comma always go within the quotation marks.
      –The dash, the semicolon, the question mark and the exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.”

      • Connie says:

        I understand the rule says, and has said, as long as I can remember, that the comma or period go inside the quotation marks, but like the (rather rude?)response above, I agree that perhaps it should not. I feel that only the material which is actually being quoted should go inside and this rule has always, always annoyed me. Any chance this will change over time?

        • Some people certainly are annoyed that the rule for question marks with quotation marks follows logic, but commas and periods with quotation marks is just a rote rule. The English language, including grammar and punctuation, is constantly changing, but it is anybody’s guess as to when or if the rule will change over time.

          • aDawn says:

            It’s funny, but this has always annoyed me as well. The British rule puts the period/comma outside of the quotation marks. Do you know if this was always the case or if they “evolved”?

    • Tricia says:

      I am 100 percent in agreement with you. I am a strict grammarian – certainly not the best, but pretty good and take it seriously as a graduate of a major university Journalism school. I was taught in my “English 101” class and throughout four years of J-school classes, the following: in all cases, ending punctuation marks ALWAYS are behind parenthetical marks, brackets, all forms of quotation marks and there are no exceptions to this rule — period and end of story (slight pun here and opportunity to illustrate.) Also, I follow the “AP Style Book,” which by the way does publish regularly new editions to address changing times and its impact on the usage of the English language. AP style supports Jane’s advice.

      • We appreciate that you say you are in agreement with us, but you might want to review the rules again, because some of your statements reveal beliefs that are incorrect. You could start with the parentheses in your email to us (the period should be outside, not inside).

  8. Adrianne says:

    If I’m stating the title of a chapter within a book, would I need to italicize, underline, or put quotation marks around it?

    • Our blog “How to Reference Books and Articles in Text” addresses this issue. Current style manuals recommend italicizing book titles and magazine names and using quotation marks around articles and chapters.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your insight Jane. Grammar Ericson, I have never seen a period placed after quotation marks nor have I ever seen a semicolon follow the word also.

  10. Logan says:

    Thanks for this article! It’s very helpful.

    Just to confirm, are the following sentences wrongly punctuated?

    While watching “Captain America”, I noted each of the cliches that passed before my eyes.

    I couldn’t believe that she said in the same sentence “cheesy” and “Inception!”

    • Yes, both sentences are punctuated incorrectly but there is another error as well. According to The Chicago Manual of Style (8.185), “Titles of movies and of television and radio programs and series are italicized. A single episode in a television or radio series is set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.” Therefore, italics are used instead of quotation marks in reference to the movies Captain America and Inception.

      Using quotation marks to delineate the two words in question in the second sentence is acceptable. To clarify the proper position of the exclamation point, The Chicago Manual of Style’s rule (6.74) regarding exclamation points with quotation marks says, “An exclamation point should be placed inside quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets only when it is part of the quoted or parenthetical matter.” Since the exclamation point in the second sentence is not part of the quoted material, it is placed outside the quotation marks.

      While watching Captain America, I noted each of the cliches that passed before my eyes.

      I couldn’t believe that she said in the same sentence “cheesy” and “Inception“!

  11. Erica says:

    Do manuals and handbooks go by this rule as well? The name of the manual is Drainage Design Manual.

    What if I wanted to write about a specific volume and mention a specific table? How would it look like within the text?

    • If it is a published manual or handbook, it should go by the same rule. The title is written Drainage Design Manual. If the specific volume or table has a title, the title is enclosed in quotation marks. If it has a number, it would be referred to as vol. 1, table 3, “Parking Lot Drainage Requirements,” for example.

  12. Lynn says:

    I’m referring to an earlier section of a book within that same book (We begin with the section called Getting Started.) Should the section title, Getting Started, be in ital or quotation marks?

    Also, how about if referring to parts of a book (When you finish with Part One go on to Part Two.)Should Part One and Part Two be in ital?

    Many thanks.

    • Titles of chapters in books should be in quotation marks (“Getting Started”). When referring to parts of a book, you do not need to use any special punctuation unless the parts have a title (“Part One: The Adventure Begins”).

  13. Renee says:

    Thanks for this, it helped a lot.
    Just want to know if this sentence is grammatically incorrect.

    “The Three Musketeers” was written by Alexandre Dumas.

    Do we use “was” written by, or “is” written by when refering to book authors? And also if the book is in quotation marks or italics.

  14. Alix says:

    I’m assuming that websites are treated like magazine and newspaper publications in that they are also italicized and pieces within them are put between quotation marks. Is this assumption correct? Does the purpose (for example, if it’s a web store with “.com” in its title, e.g. or content have an effect on this rule?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style recommends that general titles of websites are written without quotation marks or italics. Titled sections, pages, or special features on a website should be placed in quotation marks. Please note that not all style manuals follow the same rules.

      “Prounouns” section of

  15. Julie says:

    I am in the process of writing a work of fiction and want to be clear on quotation marks.

    Song titles are NOT italicized, but should be in quotes, correct? What about song lyrics?

    • Song titles and lyrics are both enclosed in quotes. AP Stylebook recommends slashes at the end of each line of lyrics and capitalization of the word starting each line.

      • Julie says:

        “Crazy Love”

        “I can feel her heartbeat for a thousand miles/And the heavens open up everytime she smiles/”

        Is this correct?

        • If you are wanting to write this using the convention for song lyrics, there should be a space after the first slash to separate it from the next line of lyrics. The slash after smiles would indicate that another line of lyrics follows. Also, every time is two words:

          “I can feel her heartbeat for a thousand miles/ And the heavens open up every time she smiles/”

          If you were writing this as prose, it would be: “I can feel her heartbeat for a thousand miles, and the heavens open up every time she smiles.”

  16. Emily says:

    How would one write a store name, then? Ie: Williams-Sonoma, Game Craze, Game Stop, LoveSac, etc.

  17. aDawn says:

    Here’s what I actually came to ask: When you are writing the title of a book or movie in a Facebook status, where italicization is not possible, do you use all caps or single quotation marks?

    • Where italics are unavailable, normal quotation marks are the next best option based on extrapolation of The Chicago Manual of Style‘s recommendation that “Titles of long or short works appearing within an italicized title are enclosed in quotation marks.” Perhaps Facebook will provide italics if enough users contact them about the problem.

  18. Peter Curtis says:

    I am writing report card and want to say

    ” John is having difficulty with commas, capital letters and question marks.” Do the names of these punctuation marks require capitalisation?

    • The names of punctuation marks are not proper nouns and do not require capitalization. Also, Rule 1 of Commas recommends using commas to separate words and word groups with a series of three or more.

      John is having difficulty with commas, capital letters, and question marks.

  19. Fred says:

    I have created a new rule for the use of Quotation Marks. I believe it would be appropriate for you to incorporate this rule in your publications. My new rule is “When appropriate, punctuation may be placed outside the quotation marks.”

    With the advent of computers, and their lack of flexibility regarding data entry, quotation mark rules must allow for all writing punctuation to remain outside the quotation marks. The rule that the period should be inside the quotes was probably created because it looked better on the written page, but it is not true to the spirit of a quote. The spirit of a quote is to represent, exactly, what was or to be communicated, regardless of someone’s opinion of proper punctuation. When using computers, the quotation would be frequently rendered inaccurate if the punctuation is included inside the quotes.

    For example:
    For a directory listing using Linux, you may enter “ls –al.” This would not produce the correct result as “ls –al.” is very different from “ls –al”. Therefore, I have created and use the rule “When appropriate, punctuation may be placed outside the quotation marks.”

    I hope you will incorporate my new rule in your grammar documentation, and encourage others to do the same.

    • The Chicago Manual of Style does agree with your recommendation if quotation marks must be used. Its rule (7.75) states, “When a greater prominence than capitalization is called for, boldface, italics, color, or some other scheme may be used to distinguish elements. A single treatment may be applied across different types of elements. In general, avoid quotation marks lest they be interpreted as part of the element they enclose. If quotation marks must be used, any punctuation that is not part of the quoted expression should appear outside the quotation marks.”

      Click on Save As; name your file “appendix A, v. 10”.

      We will consider adding this to the next edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.

  20. Jessie says:

    How would you cite the name of Shakespeare’s play in this book:

    The Merchant of Venice (The Annotated Shakespeare)

    Normally, we would italicize the name of the play, but since it is included within a book title (which should also be italicized), how does one differentiate the two?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s rule says, “Titles of long or short works appearing within an italicized title are enclosed in quotation marks, regardless of how such titles would appear alone.”

      “The Merchant of Venice” (The Annotated Shakespeare)

  21. John says:

    I am the author of a book that includes affirmations. These are not quoted from another source. At the beginning of each chapter, I (1) initially state the affirmations, and (2) often insert the affirmations throughout the book for emphasis.

    How are quotations handled in this instance? Should the period be placed inside the quote, or outside? Would italics be in order for either instance?

    Thank you!

    • Quotation marks should be used in direct quotations to surround the exact words of a speaker or writer, or to surround titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works. Our Rule 1 of Quotation Marks says, “Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks, even inside single quotes.”

      Regarding the use of italics, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized. As far as using italics for emphasis, Chicago Manual of Style says, “Use italics for emphasis only as an occasional adjunct to efficient sentence structure. Overused, italics quickly lose their force. Seldom should as much as a sentence be italicized for emphasis, and never a whole passage.”

      • Diane Allen West says:

        I simply cannot wrap my senses around placing the end-of sentence punctuation within a quote, if the quote appears at the end of the sentence. What do you do, if you make an exclamatory sentence that ends with a quoted question? For example;
        Oh my God Terry, I nearly fainted when he stood up in church and shouted “will you marry me?”!

        In my letter, should I have placed the exclamation marks within the quotation marks, right after the question mark?

        • The placement of question marks with quotation marks follows logic (as opposed to periods, which always go inside the quotation marks in American English). If a question is within the quoted material, a question mark should be placed inside the quotation marks. The question Will you marry me? is part of the quotation. Only one form of punctuation is used at the end of a sentence. The first word in a complete quotation should be capitalized, even in midsentence. A comma is used to introduce a direct quotation. Also, use commas to set off the name, nickname, term of endearment, or title of a person directly addressed. Therefore, write the following:
          Oh my God, Terry, I nearly fainted when he stood up in church and shouted, “Will you marry me?”

  22. mmmmpppp says:

    You’re amazing! I wonder if my question is like the one above from August 8, 2010.

    I am trying to start a business. I am writing an employees manual that will only be distributed in soft copy, and it will be around 20-25 pages long. The title is, let’s say (I’d rather not tell the actual title), Drivers Guide. (Imagine that it’s a delivery service that only employs drivers.)

    My question is, in the Drivers Guide, when I refer to the Drivers Guide, how should I punctuate the title, “Drivers Guide?” For example, a sentence of the Guide might say, “This Drivers Guide covers policies and procedures for drivers.”


    P.S. Is the title, Drivers Guide, grammatically acceptable? Specifically, does it need an apostrophe?

    • The title of your handbook should be italicized. Regarding the apostrophe, the Chicago Manual of Style (7.25) says, “The line between a possessive or genitive form and a noun used attributively—to modify another noun—is sometimes fuzzy, especially in the plural. Although terms such as employees’ cafeteria sometimes appear without an apostrophe, Chicago dispenses with the apostrophe only in proper names (often corporate names) that do not use one or where there is clearly no possessive meaning.

      children’s rights
      farmers’ market
      women’s soccer team
      boys’ clubs
      taxpayers’ associations (or taxpayer associations)
      consumers’ group (or consumer group)


      Publishers Weekly
      Diners Club
      Department of Veterans Affairs”

      Since there is clearly a possessive meaning, we recommend using an apostrophe in the title Drivers’ Guide.

  23. Vicki Graham says:

    About titles of books and quotation marks, what is the style
    for famous works such as the I Ching, Analects of Confucius, Baghavad Gita, and so on?. I’m editing essays on very famous Chinese literary works, some I know are in quotation marks, but I’m not sure of others, many never officially “published.” The Analects of Confucius, for example, is a compilation.

    Thank you for your help.

    • The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Titles of unpublished works—theses, dissertations, manuscripts in collections, unpublished transcripts of speeches, and so on—are set in roman type, capitalized as titles, and enclosed in quotation marks. Names of manuscript collections take no quotation marks.”

  24. Nancy says:

    When writing the title of a book with a subtitle on the same line and the subtitle begins with an article (a, the, an, etc), is the article capitalized?

    Example: It’s All Relative: a Memoir of Two Fathers or
    It’s All Relative: A Memoir of Two Fathers

    (of course the title is italicized)

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s rule (14.97) reads, “A colon, also italicized, is used to separate the main title from the subtitle. A space follows the colon. The subtitle, like the title, always begins with a capital letter.

  25. Rob says:

    Thanks so much for all of the great detail here! What about the title of a monthly newsletter? When I refer to the newsletter on my website or in other articles, I have been using italics for the title. Is this correct?

  26. Erin says:

    It’s often the rule to italicize titles of dance works, but what is the rule when dealing with a series of several dance works? Also italicized?

    • We were able to find the following excerpt from The History of Dance: An Interactive Arts Approach: “Dances are works of art: therefore, the titles of sections of dances should be enclosed in quotation marks (e.g. “Pas de Deux” from Don Quixote.) The names of ballets and modern dance works are printed in italics, such as Swan Lake.” We do not see why a series of dance work titles would be treated any differently.

  27. Terry says:

    I am working on revisions to the Facilities Use Policy for my church and would like to know if this title should be italicized, in quotes, or capitalized when referenced in the text of the policy or elsewhere. In the policy I also refer to other documents, e.g., Facilities Use Application & Agreement (a form) and Hold Harmless Agreement (a legal document) and have the same question as to their proper punctuation. What about the different sections of the policy? Is it similar to the monthly newsletter Rob asked about on 7/31/12?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Pamphlets, corporate reports, brochures, and other freestanding publications are treated essentially as books.” Since your handbook contains more than one article and is broken down in article-like sections, you should italicize the title and put the different sections in quotation marks. Legal documents and forms should not have quotation marks or italics but should be capitalized.

  28. Kathy says:

    In writing a letter to patients and reference the Liver Transplant Waitng List. Should this be capitalized ?

  29. Olive says:

    How do I capitalize the title of a book.
    “It is What It is” or “It Is What It Is” or “It is What it is” or “It is What It is”

    Many thanks.

    • Our rule 8 of Capitalization states, “Always capitalize the first and last words of titles of publications regardless of their parts of speech. Capitalize other words within titles, including the short verb forms Is, Are, and Be.” Chicago Manual of Style says to capitalize all major words, including nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctions. Since the word it is a pronoun, capitalize that as well. Also, our blog Titles of Books, Plays, Articles, etc. says that book titles are italicized and not enclosed in quotation marks.

      It Is What It Is

  30. Larry Brill says:

    What about in a novel, a title as part of the dialogue? Do you italicize the name of a book? Then Bob said, “I was just reading Cannery Row last night and I really enjoyed it.”

  31. GS says:

    How should I construct a title for a event shown in a picture. I want to convey the time period, locally, state, and event name.

    1960s-70s Orange City, Florida, Parade

    1960s-70s Orange City Florida Parade

    1960s-70s Orange City (Florida) Parade

    How about events whereas I’d like to include the name of the country:

    1960s-70s Panama City, Panama, Parade

    1960s-70s Panama City (Panama) Parade

    • There are no punctuation rules that specifically relate to titles. However, we can obtain some guidance from our Rule 6 of Commas, which states, “Use a comma to separate the city from the state and after the state in a document.” It would also be logical to separate each of your categories with commas. Our blog “Dates and Times” says, “When using an incomplete numeral, use an apostrophe to replace the first two numbers.” And, our rule of Dashes states, “An en dash, roughly the width of an n, is a little longer than a hyphen. It is used for periods of time when you might otherwise use to.” Any of the following examples would likely be acceptable:

      1960s–’70s, Orange City, Florida, Parade
      1960s–1970s, Orange City, Florida, Parade

      1960s–’70s, Panama City, Panama, Parade
      1960s–1970s, Panama City, Panama, Parade

  32. Laurie says:

    What about the name of a band? Should that go in quotation marks or italics?

  33. Drew says:

    Is this saying correct?

    The article “Dogs on Fire” (in italics) is a great read!”

    • It is unclear what you mean by “saying.” Is this a direct quote from someone? If not, an article belongs in quotation marks. If it is a quotation, use single quotation marks around the title of the article. Italics are not used for the title of an article in either case.

      The article “Dogs on Fire” is a great read.
      John said, “The article ‘Dogs on Fire’ is a great read.”

  34. Rachel says:

    If you are writing a book with a question as the title, do you punctuate title? For instance, if the book is titled Who is George Washington by John Doe, on the title page, would it be correct to write:

    Who is George Washington?
    by John Doe


    Who is George Washington
    by John Doe

    I know this is an odd question, but I can’t find the answer anywhere. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong way. Thank you for your help!

  35. Trina says:

    I’m a Chinese student, English-majored. Here are what I write in my essay:

    Simile used in different situation has different effect. For example, “the quiet lake is like a mirror.” This simile gives readers a sense of peace.

    I want to ask two questions: is the usage of the phrase “for example” right and should I add another period mark after the quotation. In other words, am I right if I write like this?

    I like the words “the quiet lake is like a mirror.”.

    • Your first sentence is not grammatically correct. It could be written Similes used in different situations have different effects. Your second sentence is incomplete as written. It could be written An example of this is “the quiet lake is like a mirror.” There is not a second period after the quotation marks. Your last sentence is correct as written.

      Similes used in different situations have different effects. An example of this is “the quiet lake is like a mirror.” This simile gives readers a sense of peace.

      (We assume you will be adding at least one more simile in order to illustrate different situations and effects.)

  36. Mac says:

    Nice site!

    What about the names of websites, are they italicised or put in quotes?

    And can I use italics and quotes (for different words) throughout an article?

    After italicising a word once, do we need to continue italicising it?

    Many thanks!

  37. Janice says:

    I have a title for an academic thesis with a foreign term right in the middle of it. Everything will be in caps. WHat to do about the foreign terms, italics or not?


    • We do not know why your title would be in all caps, but in regard to foreign terms The Chicago Manual of Style (7.49) says, “Italics are used for isolated words and phrases in a foreign language if they are likely to be unfamiliar to readers (but see 7.52). If a foreign word becomes familiar through repeated use throughout a work, it need be italicized only on its first occurrence. If it appears only rarely, however, italics may be retained.”

      • Robbie says:

        I can’t find the answer to this question anywhere, but I am sure you will know: what do I do when two “rules” conflict? In my case, the two rules are (1) to italicise foreign words, and (2) to use roman font within quotation marks for the title of an article. So what does one do with a journal article that is in a foreign language? In other words, should one write an article title as “Les paroles du jour” or “Les paroles du jour“? (I think one would not capitalise except for the first letter, since the rule of the source language should obviously be followed for capitalisation, otherwise the meaning might be altered.)

        • The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 11.8 says, “Titles of works in languages that use the Latin alphabet (including transliterated titles) are set in italic or roman type according to the principles set forth in 8.156–201—for example, books and periodicals in italic; poems and other short works in roman.” Therefore, write “Les paroles du jour.”

  38. Shelly says:

    Yes, ‘Death By Dessert,’ is the way it should appear I believe.

  39. Tony says:

    I’m writing software documentation and would like to refer to a section of a chapter. For example:

    See ‘Importing a Site’ in the “Procedures” chapter.

    Is this example punctuated correctly? If not, what would be correct?

    Thank you.

    • If the chapter has a title at the beginning, you may put it in quotation marks or italicize it, but your use of single quotation marks is incorrect.
      See “Importing a Site” in the “Procedures” chapter.

  40. JH says:

    So glad I just discovered your blog.
    I am citing a publication (op-ed piece) that ends with quotation marks: “The Struggle to Revive ‘Honest Services,'” The Daily Journal (Los Angeles), Nov. 16, 2010.
    Does the first comma go after “Services” and before the quotation marks? Or does it go between the last two closed quotation marks (Services’,”)?
    (In case it matters, I am citing according to the Bluebook for legal citation.)

    • The comma goes after “Services” and before the quotation marks. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends italicizing the names of newspapers. You may want to consult The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation for their rule on this.

      “The Struggle to Revive ‘Honest Services,’” The Daily Journal (Los Angeles), Nov. 16, 2010.

  41. Lori says:

    When ending a sentence with quotation marks around one word, is the period inside the quotation mark? Example: He thinks of her as an old “fuddy-duddy.” She feels he is a notch above “oddball.” And when you are asking a question in a sentence, but have one word ending in a quotation, is this the correct way? Example: Can they help this young man overcome his “problem”?

    • In American English the period and the comma always go within the quotation marks. The dash, the semicolon, the question mark and the exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence. Your sentences are punctuated correctly.

  42. Vera Gilford says:

    Is it proper to put thoughts in italics or quotation marks? i.e., “Please let this child graduate,” she contemplates.

    • Direct internal dialogue can either be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Our blog Internal Dialogue: Italics or Quotes? has more information about this topic.

      “Please let this child graduate,” she contemplates. OR
      Please let this child graduate, she contemplates.

  43. Music School says:

    What about this title…

    10 Years of Excellence:
    A look back at milestones

    What should or shouldn’t be capitalized, on the “A look back…” line?

    Thank you!

  44. Morgan says:

    Should a title of a book be italicized when it is following a quoted paragraph from the book, for the purpose of introducing an article? In other words this is not running text nor is it a quotation set off within the text; rather, it appears as an extract before the beginning of the article. Following the extract is an en dash, the author’s last name, a comma, and then the book title. None of which are currently italicized. I don’t think the author’s name should be italicized, but should the book title? I can’t find a rule for this in my references. (And while I’m asking, should it be an en dash before the author’s name? or em dash?). Thanks for your help!

    • Since it is not running text, you may wish to treat your paragraph the way you would an epigraph. An epigraph is a quotation at the beginning of a book or chapter of a book that includes the author’s name and can also include the book title. The book title is preferably italicized, and you may use an em dash before the author’s name, but it is optional. The following are two examples of epigraphs from The Chicago Manual of Style:

      Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
      When first we practice to deceive!
      —Sir Walter Scott

      It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
      Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

  45. thussaiththewalrus says:

    R and ((grammar)) are incorrect and rude. To curtly tell someone to “Get it right!” is mean. Please folks, if you have not yet taken college level English 101 (to learn to argue) or even a high school debate class, please do so.

    It was interesting to see that the British put their commas outside of the quotation marks.

    I have always placed the punctuation inside the quotation marks; any other application looks awkward to me.

    For example: John called out, “the pizza is here,” to the work crew.

    I’m going to continue in that manner and ignore R and ((grammar)). Thank you all very much. I enjoy the discussion.

    And, Jane THANK YOU so much for not demanding a Facebook connection! Some (few) of us do not want to belong and it is frustrating to be turned away from so many sites because they have given up their selection/certification process to Facebook.

  46. Valery says:

    I have been going through the various posts looking for the answer to my question, but alas, have not found it. (well, I might have missed it!)

    If you want to make reference to a website on a ‘report’ would you put it in italics? ex: (oops, sorry, I can not seem to use the italics!) and if I would like to talk about a certain presentation from the website, would I present it as such: “Parul Sehgal: An ode to envy.” or “Parul Sehgal: An Ode to Envy.”?

    Thank you.

    • Reports can follow different formats, such as MLA or Chicago style. It is important to find out which format is required for the report you are doing. For example, in MLA format, the title of a website is italicized when you are citing it. Chicago Manual of Style says no italics. They both agree on putting a website article in quotation marks. Other information may also be required. If you find that you need to do your report in MLA format, you may want to visit the MLA section of the Purdue Owl website.

      We recommend “Parul Sehgal: An Ode to Envy,” rather than using lowercase.

  47. Rich Petersen says:

    Jane is right–no matter what you say, and, yes, I agree: “what’s his face” ‘grammar’ was quite rude.

  48. Ray says:

    Now that we have digital means of adapting language, it is beneficial to evolve it more logically. There is no need for typesetter rules, nor any other conventions that were a result of technological limitations, or stylings. I personally, and logically use the following method: punctuation within the quotation marks only when the punctuation belongs to the quoted text, and punctuation outside of the quote when it belongs to the non-quoted text. (The same logic that is used with parenthesis.)

    • You will be at home in countries that follow British English rules. American English, however, still requires that periods and commas always go inside the closing quotation mark.

  49. Megan says:

    Thank you for this wonderful site and all of your great work! Speaking as a paranoid grammar geek, it is comforting to have a place to which one can turn for insight and affirmation.

    Please know that you provide an invaluable service, regardless of what some rather snarky readers might post!

    Again, I thank you!

  50. abin says:

    Pls give a good tittle for my new book which is a students educational guide book, &
    name should attract the students and should be a variety name and cachy
    pls give a good name for my students guide book quick as possible……..

    • We do not give recommendations for titles of books. However, we do advise that you read and study our rules of capitalization and punctuation. When you do decide on a title, italicize it.

  51. Yearbookstudent says:

    Does the length of a stageplay affect how it is formatted in text? In specific, when one is referring to a one-act play, should it be italicized or placed in quotes in the same way that a longer stageplay would be?
    Thank you.

  52. Sheila says:

    When using punctuation after an italicized title, am I correct in NOT italicizing the punctuation? E.G. Did you enjoy the book Sheila the Great?

    • Italics do not include punctuation marks next to the words being italicized unless those punctuation marks are part of the actual title.
      Did you enjoy the book Sheila the Great?

  53. Rhonda says:

    Am I correct in thinking that periods are not used in titles if the title is just a sentence fragment? This title (and other sentence fragments which are not titles) is part of a graphic used for signs/banners on our website and projector screen in our church sanctuary and is announcing a new sermon series.

    Thank you

    • There may be options for how the title may be written, but since you did not provide an example of what you are talking about, we are unable to say for sure.

  54. Tracy says:

    Why do newspapers put movie and book titles in quotes? I’ve always been taught that these are italicized (or underlined). Is this different for newswriting?

    • As our blog states, most newspapers follow The Associated Press Stylebook, which has its own rules because italics cannot be sent through AP computers. The AP Stylebook’s rule regarding book titles, computer game titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, album and song titles, radio and television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches, and works of art states, “Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications. Do not use quotation marks around such software titles as WordPerfect or Windows.”

  55. Slone says:

    I am writing a short story, and I’m confused of how to state the name of a packet. Those packets that kids get in school and all. Would it be, “Creative Writing” or Creative Writing?

    • Rules for titles of packets of information are not specifically mentioned by the style guides. Since titles of unpublished works such as theses, dissertations, and manuscripts are enclosed in quotation marks, we recommend treating the packet as an “unpublished work” and using quotation marks.

  56. Bob Price says:

    I haven’t found the answer to my question, which is how does one style the names of internal divisions in a work? Here are two examples:

    Please refer to Chapter 6 for more information


    The Audit Work Schedule has been updated to reflect the data for fiscal 2014.

    On another note, here’s a possible reason for the practice that disturbs so many here.

    I’ve was orginally told that the American convention of placing terminal punctuation inside quotation marks came about as a result of the printing presses used in colonial times. Unlike those used in England, the blocks for the comma and period were half the height of the others and wouldn’t stay in the press if placed at the end of a line (followed by a blank space I guess). They needed something outside of them to hold them in place. Since the blocks for quotation marks were full height, they could do the job.

    According to the story, English type sets weren’t made this way, and the periods and commas could stand on their own, so British publications did not adopt this convention.

    • Bob Price says:

      Oh, now I see someone has already provided a variation of my typesetting origin for end punctuation of quotations. Sorry for the redundancy. Frankly, I think size makes more sense than fragility though.

    • When referring to parts of a work, you do not need to use any special punctuation unless the part has a title. If it has a title, use quotation marks.
      Please refer to Chapter 6 for more information.
      Please refer to “Chapter One: The Adventure Begins.”

      If “Audit Work Schedule” is the formal title of a document or a chapter in a larger work, it should be capitalized and put in quotation marks. If you are simply referring to a schedule generically, write “The audit work schedule has been updated to reflect the data for fiscal year 2014.”

  57. vicky says:

    how can I tell if I am supposed to use quotation marks instead of italicizing the word???

    • You first have to determine what kind of title it is. Italicize titles of books, movies, plays, TV shows, newspapers, magazines, websites, music albums, operas, musical theater, paintings, sculptures, and other works of art. Italics are also widely used with names of ships, trains, and planes. Use quotation marks for titles of articles, chapters, poems, song titles, and other shorter works.

  58. Janis says:

    How would you write a name of an event that is not a familiar event to the reader? I’m referring to a charity event, and writing about something that happened there in a personal essay.

    • If the event sounds straightforward and generic, capitals would seem sufficient: National Speakers Forum.
      But if the event has a more personalized, playful, or fanciful name, quotation marks may be a good option: “Days of Madness Convention 2014.”

  59. Randi says:

    Is it within the rules of AP Style to italicize the name of a band? Or is the name simply capitalized?


  60. Shawn says:

    I’d like to add 3 quotes to my homepage. In each case, I’d like to offer more than just the quote and a name and I’d like to get the punctuation correct. For example, one quote reads:

    “What is a brand? A person’s gut feeling about a product or service.”

    The above quote is actually being paraphrased and is from a book. Is there some way to imply the author relationship to the remark using quotation marks and still indicate it is paraphrased? Is the book title italicized or underlined?


  61. Dean Bokhari says:

    Thanks for the clarity!

  62. Maxwell says:

    I’m wondering about the use of short story and poem titles, in lists and elsewhere. Which of the following is correct?

    I adored “The Road Not Traveled”, a poem by Robert Frost.
    I adored “The Road Not Traveled,” a poem by Robert Frost.

    Additionally, which is preferred in lists like the following?

    Robert Frost wrote “The Road Not Traveled”, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”.
    Robert Frost wrote “The Road Not Traveled,” “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

    Does the rule change with semicolons, as in the two following examples of reference material?

    Robert Frost – poet. “The Road Not Traveled”; “Nothing Gold Can Stay”; “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”…

  63. shiramarin says:

    I’m under a deadline: How shall I punctuate a book title that appears in an italicized paragraph? Thanks!!!

  64. Xandra says:

    I’ve been searching a long time for an answer to a question that seems to be of no interest to anyone else on the Internet. Here goes . . . Does a theme for a church program go in quotation marks? Our new theme, The Anatomy of Discipleship, looks naked without quotation marks. I can’t find an answer anywhere.

    • Themes are not specifically mentioned by the style guides, however, the Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 8.69 says, “A substantive title given to a single meeting, conference, speech, or discussion is enclosed in quotation marks.” Your program might fit into that category. Therefore, you could use quotation marks (or maybe italics) in a written announcement.

  65. Jus says:

    I’ve never liked the way that Affirmations are written without quotations marks. Since the purpose of an Affirmation is literally to be in the present and in the moment, I always feel that when you put this in quotes, it immediately makes you feel like you are really “saying it” than just reading it.

    For example:

    I am the master of my own mind and my mind is fabulous.

    “I am the master of my own mind and my mind is fabulous”.

    So is it wrong and does it look wrong to you to have them in quotation marks?

    • Unless the affirmation is a direct quote, direct internal dialogue, or a title, there is no rule prescribing the use of quotation marks.

      • Justine says:

        Ok, then based on your description of Direct Internal Dialogue from another post: ‘Direct internal dialogue refers to a character thinking the exact thoughts as written”, then I WOULD put these in quotes, since the whole purpose of an Affirmation is for the person to feel as if they are internally believing and thinking it (totally associated) as they say it.

        Would you agree?

        • The affirmation would go in quotes if it is being attributed to a specific speaker. Examples:
          “I am the master of my own mind, and my mind is fabulous,” Reverend Tom Smith told the crowd.
          “I am the master of my own mind, and my mind is fabulous,” Reverend Tom Smith thought to himself.

  66. Giselle says:

    Can I make a phrase stated by someone a title?
    I’m planning to use this as a title in my next article for school– Natalie Portman: “I’d rather be smart than a movie”
    Is this fine? And how do I capitalize it? THANKS!

  67. Dinora de Rivera says:

    Could you tell me why does The New Yorker sets in roman and encloses in quotation marks the title of a book called Handbook of Economic Inequality here?

    Should the “collection of essays” The Unsustainable American State be in roman and enclosed in quotation marks as well?

    What about Inequality Matters, “a 2013 report by the United Nations”?

    Does it matter if a report is a five-page one or a seven-hundred-page one?

    • Dinora de Rivera says:

      I forgot the The Luxembourg Income Study. How does one typeset that?

      • It seems that the editors of The New Yorker favor placing book titles in quotation marks rather than italics as recommended in our blog. Otherwise, they appear to be consistent with our recommendations to place the names of journals in italics and articles and reports in quotation marks. We are not expert in the subject matter of the article, but the Luxembourg Income Study appears to have been ongoing since 1983. Since they were not quoting any one specific book or report from the study, it was not placed in either quotation marks or italics.

        • Dinora de Rivera says:

          Thank you so much for your kind and detailed reply! The New Yorker does have a particular house style, it is known for it, in fact, but I believe that the reason they put book titles in quotation is The Associated Press Stylebook, and not some preference invented by themselves. A bit strange.

  68. Natalie says:

    When using AP Style Citations for books and you cannot italicize, does one use an underscore on the front and back ends of a title or is there another way of idetifying italics?

  69. Dinora de Rivera says:

    What about the names of restaurants, cafés, and boutiques – are they to be italicized?

  70. Dinora de Rivera says:

    What happenes with segments inside TV shows, such as, for example, the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” in BBC’s Top Gear? I presume that it gets typeset like this, inside quotation marks?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 8.15 says, “Titles of movies and of television and radio programs and series are italicized. A single episode in a television or radio series is set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.” Therefore, you are correct.

  71. Dinora de Rivera says:

    Here is a line:

    There’s a little of both, Griffiths says, in Boulez’s 1955 breakthrough Le Marteau sans maître (The Hammer Without a Master).

    Does “The Hammer Without a Master” stay as it is or does it need quotation marks around it? How are translations properly typeset?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 13.73 says, “A translation may follow the original in parentheses—or, as in 13.74, the original may follow a translation. Quotation marks need not be repeated for the parenthetical translation (or parenthetical original, as the case may be); any internal quotation marks, however, should be included (as in the second example).”

      A line from Goethe, “Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen aß” (Who never ate his bread with tears), comes to mind.

      À vrai dire, Abélard n’avoue pas un tel rationalisme: “je ne veux pas être si philosophe, écrit-il, que je résiste à Paul, ni si aristotélicien que je me sépare du Christ.” (As a matter of fact, Abelard admits no such rationalism. “I do not wish to be so much of a philosopher,” he writes, “that I resist Paul, nor so much of an Aristotelian that I separate myself from Christ.”)

  72. Dinora de Rivera says:

    In headlines, does one use quotation marks or italics?

    • Regarding headlines, The Associated Press Stylebook says, “Use single quotes for quotation marks.” AP does not italicize words at all in news stories.

  73. Kathy Rose says:

    puntuations are the life of the language in many cases and it is a crime to miss them or use them improperly.

  74. Carol-Ann says:

    I have a thorny question related to listing titles and names in a series. Which would be more desirable, when considering punctuation:
    1. Text: Paul Simon, Pictures: Paul Levine, Editor: Carol-Ann Redford, Voice Narration: Sandra James, Design: Andrew Lucas.


    2. Text, Paul Simon: Pictures, Paul Levine: Editor, Carol-Ann Redford: Voice Narration, Sandra James: Design, Andrew Lucas

    I prefer #2 as it treats each title and associated name as a unit, followed by a colon indicating another list to follow. What do you think?

    • We recommend the following, which is close to your second option. Note our use of semicolons and our lowercasing of job descriptions.
      Text, Paul Simon; pictures, Paul Levine; editor, Carol-Ann Redford; voice narration, Sandra James; design, Andrew Lucas .

  75. Dinora de Rivera says:

    What happens with the names of programs and offers, such as for example of particular programs of a philharmonic orchestra, e.g. The Modern Beethoven, or tourist-agency offers such as Cities of Europe? Quotation marks, italics, or none of those?

    • Dinora de Rivera says:

      Or festivals, like Before Bach?

    • The words “programs” and “offers” are vague. The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Writers or editors working with highly musicological material should consult D. Kern Holoman, Writing about Music.”

      None of the style guides have any rules which address “offers.”

  76. zeus greek god says:

    i’m not sure what to use in this situation…
    so… i’m doing something similar to this——— (this is an example)
    One article named ‘Ketchup Is Good For Eyesight’ says “studies show Ketchup helps you see better.”
    so, would i use the apostrophes to show that that is the title or no? what would i use instead because that many quotation marks just seems like too many

  77. Alta Schoeman says:

    Phyllis Bourque (June 13, 2013) states:
    This is similar in principal to the use of certain words such as labour vs labor, amongst vs among, or shall vs will–King’s English vs American English.
    Pity about her misspelling the word ‘principal’ instead of ‘principle’.
    I live in South Africa and prefer the comma after the quotation mark because it is not part of the quotation.

  78. Thom says:

    Thank you for taking this question.

    What is the proper way (Italics and quote marks) to do a title within quotes from someone?

    For instances; “I liked ‘The Tale of Two Cities’ more the second time I read it” – Anonymous

    • Our blog Quotations Within Quotations provides more information on the topic of quotations within quotations. Your sentence does not seem to be an example of a quotation within a quotation. The title of the book is A Tale of Two Cities. We recommend writing your quote as follows:

      “I liked A Tale of Two Cities more the second time I read it.” – Anonymous

  79. R.A. Graduate says:

    For articles that contain punctuation marks (e.g., This is Ridiculous!) How would that be quoted within a sentence.

    I am writing the following:

    According to John Brown’s article, “This is Ridiculous!” you must smile while walking.

    Is this punctuated correctly? According to CMS should there be a comma after the quotation mark?

  80. Vincent says:

    How do I put a reference to the Mayflower Compact in my essay? I am trying to say It began in 1620 with the Mayflower Compact and ended in …

  81. Kara says:

    What about the name of a textbook? Do you quote it or underline it when you are writing?

    • As we state in the post, titles of books are italicized. Underlining generally substitutes for italics in a handwritten work. If the work is not handwritten, we do not recommend underlining.

  82. Peter says:

    I am polishing up my resume and should I use quotes or italized font for a list of movie titles.

    For example…

    Won awards in national contests for promotional efforts related to the movie releases of Disney’s “The Lion King,” “Pocahontas,” and “Toy Story.”


    Won awards in national contests for promotional efforts related to the movie releases of Disney’s The Lion King, Pocahontas, and Toy Story.
    Which is correct or better to use in these examples?


  83. jaymee says:

    What do you do with a play title?

  84. Teresa says:

    Please don’t misunderstand because I am NOT trying to be rude, but I think everyone is missing the point. I have seen and heard so many mistakes made within the American language that when I try and “confront” some about their mistakes; they will try and respond that they do not care anymore; that the more important factor was to get the point across. I, myself came from a much different set of rules including proper grammar and speech, so it irritates me when they respond in such a manner. In the process; unless someone has a rather important job; many have all but forgotten the benefits of speaking or writing well. We need to bring that back; even if it means we cross-reference the answer to our questions using more than just one source.

  85. EB says:

    To begin though, I would say that I, according to Suzanne Britt’s “Neat People vs Sloppy People”, am sloppy.
    Where does the comma go?

  86. Sharon S. says:

    The title of a book at the end of a sentence. Should quotation marks go before or after quotation:
    “The Greatest Story Ever Told!” or “The Greatest Story Ever Told”!

    • We recommend that book titles be italicized. If you must use quotation marks, the exclamation point goes outside the quotation marks unless the exclamation point is actually part of the title.

  87. KH says:

    What about references to both a chapter number and its title in text, what would correct punctuation and use of quotation marks be? —

    (1) Please refer to Chapter 1, “Introduction to the Project,” of the City’s draft report…

    (2) Please refer to Chapter 1 “Introduction to the Project” of the City’s draft report…

    (3) Please refer to Chapter 1 Introduction to the Project of the City’s draft report…

    Thank you!

  88. kate says:

    What about thesis titles in italics placed after colons?
    Can you tell me what is the correct solution?

    Thesis: “Capitalism in the 19th century”.
    Thesis: “Capitalism in the 19th century”
    Thesis: Capitalism in the 19th century (title written in italics)
    Thesis Capitalism in the 19th century (title written in italics, no colons)
    Thesis “Capitalism in the 19th century”

    Please can you tell me what’s the general rule one should follow?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 14.224 says, “Titles of unpublished works appear in quotation marks—not in italics.” For information on capitalizing titles, please see our Rule 16a of Capitalization.
      Thesis: “Capitalism in the 19th Century”

  89. emily says:

    Questions, how do punctuate this: “I have you saved under jonker, for some reason…” does Jonker need to be in quotation?

  90. Heather says:

    Shakespeare in the Parks Presents Twelfth Night

    The above is an article heading. Do I need to italicize or use quotations around the name of the play in the article heading?

    • As the post states, titles of plays are usually italicized. The exception is if you are required to follow AP Style. The Associated Press Stylebook does not use italics.

  91. Samuel says:

    Should I underline and boldface the book title or do I just underline?

  92. TAV says:

    I’ve read this over and over again, but I have to ask. Which is more preferred?

    Kim Bellware, “Fox News Thinks Its Flagrant Racism Asians Is Just ‘Good Fun’,” written …….


    Kim Bellware, “Fox News Thinks Its Flagrant Racism Asians Is Just ‘Good Fun,'” written …….

    Since the ‘” looks really unprofessional for some reason.

    • Our post Quotations Within Quotations says, “As a courtesy, make sure there is visible space at the start or end of a quotation between adjacent single and double quotation marks.” Also, Rule 4 of Quotation Marks says, “Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks [whether single or double quotation marks].”
      Kim Bellware, “Fox News Thinks Its Flagrant Racism [Against] Asians Is Just ‘Good Fun,’ ” written [October 5, 2016] …

  93. Brooke Moser says:

    According to a article about extracurricular activities, “the most basic reason for joining a club or team is that it gives you something better to do than staring at the wall, wandering the hall, or napping all afternoon. People who are involved and engaged are less likely to become addicted to bad habits, like smoking or drinking” (1).

    Did I do that properly? It’s for an essay.

    • That looks fine to us. However, if you were required to follow a specific format, you should refer to that specific style guide. For example, MLA format is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities, Associated Press style provides guidelines for news writing, and APA style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. Each format has different rules.

  94. Constance Tucker says:

    I recently composed an email for a client. It is intended to be sent to 600 opt-in subscribers and contained the name of a website/online event. I was inclined to italicize it, but thought I’d check with you. Should it be since it is a title and might even be proprietary? I have queried the event’s press department but have had no response yet.

    • Names of websites are not generally italicized or enclosed in quotation marks, because they are usually made into Internet links that result in the names standing out. The style manuals do not address online events specifically; however, a substantive title given to a single meeting, conference, speech, or discussion is usually enclosed in quotation marks in formal prose.

  95. Lauren says:

    If I am writing am including a previously published article in my newsletter, how do I correctly say this. As of now I have an italicized sentence at the top of the article that mentions it was published in the such and such journal. If that sentence is already italicized, how would I correctly site the title of the publication?

    • We’re sorry, but this is an area where the details are important. We would prefer to see specifically what you are working with to provide you with clear direction.

  96. Patricia says:

    I’m writing a newsletter and I’ve seen many titles with capital letters but I cannot understand if that a rule.
    For example I’ve seen “Are You Ready to Have Fun?” instead of “Are you ready to have fun?” which of this is correct?

    • Our post Capitalizing Composition Titles: The Lowdown ends: “Capitalizing composition titles is fraught with gray areas. Pick a policy and be consistent.” In our own newsletters we capitalize in accordance with the rules in the post just mentioned. However, some newspaper editors capitalize their headlines and article titles and some capitalize only the first letter. It’s up to you (but stay consistent).

  97. eh whelan says:

    This is a very interesting thread, and as has already been pointed out, the rules in the UK and in the US are different. I know that those who disagree with my statement here will likely disagree, but as I hold a PhD in English with a focus in American literature, and am currently the content editor of a fairly good sized company (about 1500 employees) located on the West Coast of the US, I can assure everyone that in the USA the rule – as has been pointed out repeatedly – is that the comma goes INSIDE the quotation marks, not outside. One can of course argue the point, however – meaning no disrespect as in the USA we also have this quaint concept called “Freedom of Speech,” were one to disagree with doing what I just did, one would be wrong.

  98. Sheldon K Bass says:

    Does the period at the end of a sentence also always (In the U.S.) go inside the quotation marks? Example: It hurt my ears when Jane shouted “Stop that.”
    If that is correct then I have been doing it wrong whenever a quotation comes at the end of a sentence.Also, is it optional to include a comma after the word “shouted” in my example sentence?

    • Our Rule 4 of Quotation Marks says, “Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.” This rule is customary in the United States. Our Rule 13c. of Commas says, “If a quotation functions as a subject or object in a sentence, it might not need a comma.” Since “Stop that” is a direct object, the comma is not required.

  99. Gwen Schnell says:

    Let’s say in a writing, for example,
    “I am going to the store,” Sally said. “Ok, I will see you later.” Said Billy

    Should Billy’s comment be on the line with what Sally said or under what Sally said?
    And should it be Sally said or said Sally and the same with Said Billy?

    • When a new speaker speaks, you should start a new paragraph. The word said can come either before or after the name. In your second sentence there should be a comma after the word later and a period after the word Billy. The word said should not be capitalized.
      “I am going to the store,” Sally said.
      “OK, I will see you later,” said Billy.

  100. Ptaps says:

    What is the AP style preference for mentioning an article in text? I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t seem to find a straight answer. I understand that publications are in initial caps but what about individual articles?

    For example: In his article titled, “The Cookie Monster’s Favorite Cookie,” he mentions that the Cookie Monster does not like peanut butter.

    Are the quotes around the article title in line with AP style?

  101. Ora says:

    Are quotation marks necessary around the title of an Oracle?
    As in: There is an ancient prophecy called, The Oracle of Blah Blah Blah.

    If so, are quotes necessary whenever the Oracle of Blah Blah Blah is mentioned in the document? Or, are first letter caps okay?
    Finally, Is it necessary to also capitalize the “T” in the Oracle of Blah Blah Blah?
    Thank you.

  102. Michael says:

    Wich of the following is correct and why?
    St Teresa High School vs St Theresa’s High School
    St Mary High School vs St Mary’s High School
    St James College vs or St James’ Collage?

  103. William V. Miller, M.D. says:

    For example: Required Fields of Delphi

    • You have not specified what sort of title this is. If it is a subheading within a document, it may not require underlining, italics, or quotation marks. Depending on the formatting used in the document,
      you might use bold or larger font.

  104. Leah says:

    I need some help on my essay. This is what I want to say, ” Each article makes different points and have different perspectives on safe spaces. One point and counterpoint would be the article, “Safe Spaces and First Amendment Rights: Do Safe Spaces Belong on College Campuses?” is passionate about the safe spaces and thinks they should be enforced. However, in the point part of the article, “Point/Counterpoint: Do you save spaces belong on college campuses?” is against the concept. ” I need to state and refer to the articles nut it it correct to have them in the middle of the sentence like that? And does it make sense?

  105. Jean says:

    Which one is correct?

    TPC Semi-Annual Report (this one looks correct to me)

    TPC Semiannual Report (this one looks odd, but I think it’s the correct one)

    Help please!

  106. ren says:

    Is this correct?

    In Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”,

    or should it be

    In Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,”

    • Our Rule 4 of Quotation Marks says, “Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks.”
      That being said, although this work of Jonathan Swift is often referred to as a satirical essay, it is a standalone work. Therefore, we recommend:
      In Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal,

  107. David Williams says:

    I am in the UK but I am working on material that will be published in American English. I came to this page looking for guidance on the use of single versus double quotation marks. In British English in the examples you have given, it would be common to use single quotation marks. Is the single quotation mark never used in American English, except to enclose quotes within a quotation? Is there a different pattern for content that will be published on the Internet, as I believe that single quotation marks are easier to read on a screen?

    Thank you in advance.

  108. Kate Wardenberg says:

    QUESTION: Formatting a Book: Chapter Titles. If chapter titles are set in roman, would a name (e.g., that of a ship) that definitely would be italicized in the text be italicized if part of a chapter title. Example of chapter title: Sinking of the Titanic. Would Titanic be italicized in the book’s chapter title? or only in the text?

  109. Mikey G says:

    I disagree with the punctuation.

    No commas in these:

    That Time magazine article “Your Brain on Drugs” was fascinating.

    His article “Death by Dessert” appeared in The New York Times Magazine.

    But commas are used when “latest” or “newest” (for example) is used:

    The latest Time magazine article, “Your Brain on Drugs,” was fascinating.

    His newest article, “Death by Dessert,” appeared in The New York Times Magazine.

    • There are times when determining whether a word or word group is essential or nonessential is a matter of writers’ preference. Since appositives are not the focus of this blog post, we have not indicated the context in which these sentences existed. In the examples you mention, we have interpreted “That Time magazine article” and “His article” as sufficient determiners.

      Omitting the commas could also be correct depending on the writer’s interpretation in this case. Either method is acceptable. “For more information on appositives, see our post Commas with Appositives.

  110. FTD says:

    I want to know what to do in a phone text where one can neither underline nor italicize a written work. I have been using apostrophes (or single quotation marks) to identify a work. ‘Lord of the Flies.’

    Recently, I have noticed that online articles will use single quotation marks instead of italics. People are forgetting how grammar works.

    • Our rules and guidelines apply to formal writing. Thus, our recommendation applies to “formal texting”: revert to double quotation marks to indicate a book title, like the old days of typewriters where italics were not an option. (In practice, we understand that texting is highly informal. People will likely understand what you’re trying to convey if you use single quotation marks or just capitalize the title properly.)

  111. Clarence says:

    How do you punctuate a title that has a question mark in it and the title comes at the end of a question?

    Which one is correct?
    Do you remember the movie Why Did I Get Married Too? or Do you remember the movie Why Did I Get Married Too??

    In both the question mark should be italicized since it’s part of the title, but because it’s a part of the title, would there be two question marks (like in the second example) at the end of the sentence with the first one being italicized? Or, would the sentence still end in only one question mark? Thank you!

  112. Jane Paul says:

    I am finishing my novel of outback Australia and wish to call it Walkabout Creek after my granddaughter’s race horse. How can I find out if there is already a book of that name?

  113. Melanie Joye says:

    I have a question:

    I am wondering if I should use quotation marks or italics when a character is thinking about – in their head – a conversation they had with another (such as in the past). For instance, I have a character who is thinking internally about a time when she was a child. She asked her mother a question. I have the exact words to this past dialogue written using italics. It is an internal thought. An internal dialogue from the past.

  114. Joanne says:

    What if I am creating a sign to display book titles and prices? Should I still italicize?

  115. Jamie P. says:

    Should the title of a prophecy (e.g. The Prophecy of Applewood) be italicized or underlined?

  116. Emily says:

    How do you deal with titles that end in a question mark? For example, how would you punctuate the following:

    In my dissertation, entitled “How should I punctuate this?”, I investigate the elusive title-question-combo punctuation issue.

    Are there any grammar guides that provide a definitive answer to this question?

    • This is a sticky one, especially in American English, where (as we state in Rule 4 of Quotation Marks) “Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks.” We know of no definitive answer, but we’ll venture some possibilities:

      Since a dissertation could qualify as a book-like work, one solution could be to use italics: In my dissertation, titled How should I punctuate this?, I investigate the elusive title-question-combo punctuation issue.
      If you had more than one dissertation, the title could be considered essential information: In my dissertation How should I punctuate this? I investigate the elusive title-question-combo punctuation issue.
      In my dissertation titled “How should I punctuate this?” I investigate the elusive title-question-combo punctuation issue.

      Although looking a bit awkward, an option that would satisfy both our Rule 6 of Commas, “If something … is sufficiently identified, the description that follows is considered nonessential and should be surrounded by commas,” as well as Rule 4 of Quotation Marks mentioned above: In my dissertation, titled “How should I punctuate this?,” I investigate the elusive title-question-combo punctuation issue.

  117. Michelle Kraft says:

    So there are a lot of questions about punctuation belonging inside the quotes and I do agree. But how about for this example: I am often on a “diet”. I call it air quotes. Another example might be: When my sister started nursing school, she would answer all health-related questions as if she was an “expert”. Sorry that I can’t come up with better examples, I can’t see to come up with a single one that I have actually used!

    • Your examples demonstrate that the American English rule does not always follow logic: “Periods and commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks.” (See our Rule 4 of Quotation Marks.) Placement of quotation marks with other punctuation marks does follow logic.

  118. Maxine Rushing says:

    How do I properly write the name of an original play when it is the heading of the program?

  119. Frances says:

    If I am writing a quote (not for an essay or anything fancy, I’m just writing it down) how is it supposed to be formated?
    For example, the famous quote: “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” from The Prisoner of Azkaban (the 3rd book in the Harry Potter series). How am I supposed to write the author? Do I use ‘by’ and a colon? Like: “…” by: J.K. Rowling
    Is it supposed to be a dash, like: “…” –J.K. Rowling (?)
    Do I put the book title (if so, with italics/underlined or not)? Do I need to put the specific character who said it? The page number?

    • If you are writing this for your own use and not for anyone else, you have a lot of freedom. You can determine what details matter to you. For instance, whether you write “by J.K. Rowling” or ” – J.K. Rowling” is your call. If you write it using a computer, italicize the book title. If handwritten, underline the title the old-fashioned way.

  120. Khayyyode says:

    Do you underline every first letter in an essay, make all letters capital or you put it in quote?

  121. Nicholas says:

    Is there a consistent rule for formatting the title of a book, film, play, etc., when neither italics nor underlining are possible? Our in-house system does not render HTML formatting, so, in this instance, would it be advisable to put such titles in quotation marks, or simply to leave them “bare” and properly capitalized?

    • In your case, we recommend following the rules of The Associated Press Stylebook as italics cannot be sent through AP computers. They would place the titles of almost all books, films, and plays in quotation marks.

  122. Rita Lynn Seward says:

    How do I show that I’m referring to a book when posting on Facebook? I use my smart phone.

    I know the correct way is to underline or use italics but I can’t do this with my phone.

  123. Mark Whitworth says:

    In the title of a chapter, when a foreign word is used, should that word be italicized?

    • says:

      The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Italics are used for isolated words and phrases from another language, especially if they are not listed in a standard English-language dictionary like Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate or are likely to be unfamiliar to readers.”

  124. Bonnie Abrams says:

    If an actor in his bio lists all shows in capital letters, do those shows still need to be italicized?
    Thank you.

    • says:

      Yes; however, we are not sure why the titles would be listed in all capital letters. The style manuals do not encourage this style. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, “Capitalizing an entire word or phrase for emphasis is rarely appropriate in formal prose.” In addition, the Associated Press Stylebook says, “As with anything ALL CAPS, consider whether it would have the effect of screaming at the reader.”

  125. ha says:

    Would The Apostles’ Creed be in italics?

  126. Karen says:

    If I am quoting a letter within my novel, in Italics, how do I write the title of a book within that letter?

    Thank you!

    • says:

      Please see our January 8, 2013, reply to Linda G. and our December 22, 2014, response to shiramarin.

  127. Michael Patrick O'Connor says:

    I have a quick question on this rule. Should the title of a video game be italicized too? I am assuming so (it is a title after all), but I want to make sure. I have been working on a website that has many video game titles on the page. Originally I had them underlined. Someone said she felt that was wrong, and that she originally tried to click on the game titles. So we talked a bit about it, and she sent me this site. (I was going off what I was taught in school from back in the late 80’s and 90’s.)

    • says:

      It depends on which style guide you are following. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends using italics; The Associated Press Stylebook does not use italics or quotation marks for video game titles. Example:
      Minecraft (CMOS)
      MInecraft (AP)

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