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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:

Example:
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.

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, at 2:33 am


147 Comments

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

  1. ravi bedi says:

    His article, ‘Death by Dessert,’ appeared …
    His article, “Death By Dessert”, appeared …

    Are these both wrong? Should the comma not be placed after “

  2. Jane says:

    It should be as follows: His article, “Death by Dessert,” appeared. The comma is placed inside the quotation mark.

    • \{[("'Grammar'")]}/ says:

      No it is “Death by Dessert”, appeared…

      Get it right.

      • Jane says:

        I got it right. The Associated Press Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style, and my Rule 1 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 …

          {[("'Grammar'")]}/ seemed rather hasty and rude to admonish with, “Get it right.”

          • R says:

            i live in america. we use our commas outside the quotation marks.

          • Jane says:

            As stated on the home page of my website, GrammarBook.com 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. Whether you are writing formal English in America or anywhere else in the world, you capitalize the first word of every sentence.

      • 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…

        • Jane says:

          I 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: http://pointsonstyle.blogspot.com/2010/03/national-grammar-day-us.html

          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…

          and…

          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?

          Thanks…

          • Jane says:

            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.

  3. 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?

    Thanks!

  4. 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.

      So…

      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 ,

      • Jane says:

        The leading style manuals The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook do not appear to address this topic at all. However, I was 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?

      • Jane says:

        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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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”.

  8. 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.

    • Jane says:

      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:

        Hi Jane, 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?

        • Jane says:

          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”?

          • Jane says:

            I think it is more likely that American English “evolved” to the simple “periods and commas always go inside quotation marks” rule.

  9. 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?

    • Jane says:

      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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!”

    • Jane says:

      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“!

  12. 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?

    • Jane says:

      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.

  13. 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.

    • Jane says:

      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”).

  14. Renee says:

    Hi! 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.

    • Jane says:

      Since the book was written in the past, I recommend using was written. Book titles are italicized.

      The Three Musketeers was written by Alexandre Dumas.

  15. 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. Overstock.com) or content have an effect on this rule?

    • Jane says:

      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.

      Examples:
      Overstock.com
      Facebook
      Grammarbook.com
      “Prounouns” section of Grammarbook.com

  16. Julie says:

    Jane,

    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?

    • Jane says:

      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?

        • Jane says:

          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.”

  17. Emily says:

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

  18. 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?

    • Jane says:

      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.

  19. Peter Curtis says:

    Greetings

    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?

    • Jane says:

      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.

  20. Fred says:

    Dear Ms. Straus:
    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.

    • Jane says:

      The Chicago Manual of Style does agree with your recommendation if quotation marks must be used. Their 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.”

      Example:
      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.

  21. 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?

    • Jane says:

      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)

  22. 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!

    • Jane says:

      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.”

  23. mmmmpppp says:

    Hi,

    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.”

    Thanks!

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

    • Jane says:

      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)

      but

      Publishers Weekly
      Diners Club
      Department of Veterans Affairs”

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

  24. Vicki Graham says:

    Hi, Jane,
    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.

    • Jane says:

      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.”

  25. 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)

    • Jane says:

      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.

  26. 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?

    • Jane says:

      If the newsletter is going to contain more than one article and it will be broken down in article-like sections, you should italicize the title.

  27. 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?

    • Jane says:

      I was 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.” I do not see why a series of dance work titles would be treated any differently.

  28. 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?

    • Jane says:

      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.

  29. Kathy says:

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

  30. 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”

    Thank you – can you please answer me by email.
    Many thanks.

    • Jane says:

      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

  31. 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.”

  32. 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

    • Jane says:

      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

  33. Laurie says:

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

  34. Tere&Emily says:

    One of her programs is the worldwide day of play. WHAT SHOULD I DO TO SENT.????

    • Jane says:

      Since your question is not clearly stated, I will take a guess and answer it the best I can. The answer depends on what kind of program it is. Plays and television programs are italicized. If it is a class or course of study, it should not be underlined or italicized, but it should be capitalized. Brochures or pamphlets should be treated like book titles and italicized. Since it is a title, it should be capitalized. If this is a meeting or conference, it should be enclosed in quotation marks.

      The Worldwide Day of Play (play, television program, brochure, pamphlet)
      The Worldwide Day of Play (class or course of study)
      “The Worldwide Day of Play” (meeting or conference)

  35. Drew says:

    Is this saying correct?

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

    • Jane says:

      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.”

  36. 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

    or

    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!

  37. Trina says:

    Hello, 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.”.

    • Jane says:

      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.

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

  38. Mac says:

    Hello Jane

    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!

  39. 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?

    Thanks

    • Jane says:

      I 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.”

  40. Shelly says:

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

    • Jane says:

      In American English, the title of an article is enclosed in quotation marks.
      His article, “Death by Dessert,” appeared in The New York Times Magazine.

  41. 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.

    • Jane says:

      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.

  42. 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.)
    Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      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.

  43. 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”?

    • Jane says:

      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.

  44. Vera Gilford says:

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

    • Jane says:

      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.

  45. 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!

  46. 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!

    • Jane says:

      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

  47. thussaiththewalrus says:

    Hello!

    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.

  48. Valery says:

    Hello Jane,

    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: ted.com (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.

    • Jane says:

      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.

      https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/

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

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

  50. 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.)

    • Jane says:

      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.

  51. Megan says:

    Jane,

    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!!!

  52. 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.

  53. Yearbookstudent says:

    Jane,
    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.

  54. 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?

  55. 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

  56. 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.”

  57. 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.

  58. 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

    and

    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.”

  59. 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.

  60. 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.”

  61. Randi says:

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

    Thanks!

  62. 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?

    Thanks,
    s

  63. Dean Bokhari says:

    Thanks for the clarity!

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