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Underline Or Bold Play Titles In Essays

Titles: Underline, Italics, or Quotations?
(printable version here)

When writing about other works, it's hard to decide when to underline (or place in italics) a title and when to place it in double quotations. Note that some publications have a "house style" that must be followed. When in doubt, however, these guidelines from the Modern Language Association may help:

For titles of written or musical works that are published within other works use double quotations; underline or italicize names of works published by themselves:

ex. I just read the short story "Looking for Jake" in China Miéville's anthology of the same name, Looking for Jake.

ex. Beckett's play Waiting for Godot will be performed next season.

ex. Devo's second album, Duty Now for the Future, has one of my favorite songs, "Swelling Itching Brain."

ex. Yes, I went to a science-fiction convention. I really enjoy the original Star Trek TV series, especially the episode "Return of the Archons," and the first three Star Wars films, especially The Empire Strikes Back, okay?

ex. I read the story "All about the Bronx" in the city section of today's New York Times.

ex. I have subscribed to my favorite magazine, The Atlantic, for many years.

For names of artwork, always use italics or underlining:

ex. We have a copy of Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks in the Writing Center lobby. I always think about it when I'm listening to Tom Wait's CD Nighthawks at the Diner.

For the names of famous aircraft, ships, and spacecraft, always use italics or underlining:

ex. I built scale models of the USS Nimitz and the space shuttle Discovery last year.

Sacred texts:

ex. The Bible, Book of Exodus, or Qu'ran do not get underlined in the text of a paper. A specific edition would, however, be underlined in a works-cited list. Their titles are capitalized.

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Formatting Titles

A lot of people have trouble formatting titles correctly.  In an English class, how you format the title of a work (a book, an article, a poem, a television show, etc.) can affect the clarity of what you are trying to communicate in your paper.  Please use this reference to make sure you are formatting your titles correctly.

NOTE:  Be sure to capitalize the first letter in ALL of the words of your title except for prepositions (in, of, to, about, toward, between, with, etc.), conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, so, etc.) and articles (a, an, the), UNLESS the word is the first one in the title or comes after a colon.  Capitalize EVEN IF the words are not capitalized in your source.  NEVER use bold type, all caps or extra large fonts in titles.


Type of Source / Document
Title Format
Examples

A book or a play
Underline or Italicize 
(Do one or the other and
 be consistent throughout the paper)
The Price of a Child or The Price of a Child
Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life among the Lowly or Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life among the Lowly
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Death of a Salesman or Death of a Salesman
Othello: The Moor of Venice or Othello: The Moor of Venice


A periodical
(scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers)

Underline or Italicize
The New England Journal of Medicine or The New England Journal of Medicine
Essence or Essence
The Philadelphia Inquirer or The Philadelphia Inquirer


An article from a periodical  

Quotation Marks
"HIV Awareness in African American Fraternities"
"Referee Linked to Alleged Area Bookmaker"

A article from an anthology
(a book of articles by different authors)
Quotation Marks
"Teen Pregnancy: A Different Perspective"

A short story


Quotation Marks
"The Cask of Amontillado"
"Sweat"
"Bloodchild"


A film

Underline or Italicize
The Matrix or The Matrix
Hustle & Flow or Hustle & Flow
Bowling for Columbine or Bowling for Columbine


A CD or album

Underline or Italicize
Hairspray: The Motion Picture Soundtrack or Hairspray: The Motion Picture Soundtrack
The White Album or The White Album


A single song from a CD or album

Quotation Marks
"Revolution"
"The Light of My Life"
"Pimp & Circumstance"


A poem

Quotation Marks
"If We Must Die"
"Phenomenal Woman"
"Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?"


A reference book

Underline or Italicize
The Oxford English Dictionary or The Oxford English Dictionary
Encyclopedia Britannica or Encyclopedia Britannica


A television show

Underline or Italicize
Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Buffy the Vampire Slayer
American Idol or American Idol


A single episode of a television show

Quotation Marks
"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"
"Once More with Feeling"

A web page

NOTE:You should check with me before using information from  ANY web page in your paper.

Plain text
If you are just mentioning the name of a web page, use the url: www.cnn.com
If you are using an article, poem, etc., from a web page, format it according to its type: "Dogfighting Co-Defendant Flips; Vick Speaks"

Your own title (the title of your paper)
Plain text
(no bold, no quotation marks, no all caps, no underline)

An Eating Disordered Nation: How the Obsession with Thinness Hurts Everyone
Banning Specific Dog Breeds Is Unfair
Responses to Global Warming
 A title within the title of your paper
Format any title within your title according to this chart.
Women and Skin Color in Uncle Tom's Cabin
Images of Flowers in "Sweat"
Why American Idol Is Destroying the United States


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