punctuation for titles

 In Modern English

Punctuation for titles can appear confusing because titles appear to be punctuated in any of three ways.  When you are writing about other people’s books, mentioning a movie, quoting a poem, you need to use a format that shows the reader exactly what it is you are referring to. Punctuation for titles uses underlining, italicizing, or quotation marks. However, the different kinds of titles demand different kinds of punctuation.  Punctuation for titles is dependent on the kinds of titles you use.

punctuation for titles

When it comes to titles of books, movies, certain proper names such as names of aircraft and boats and the format you should choose, here are some tips: Use EITHER quotation marks or underline or italics. Do not use them together, ever. Underlines or italics serve the same purpose.  Underlines are slightly out of date and most people these days use italics.

The following general  rules apply to the way punctuation for titles are formatted. Titles should be referenced in text in the following way

Book Title – italics or underline
Title of Newspaper or Magazine Article – quotation marks
Chapter Headings – quotation marks
Name of an Encyclopedia – italics or underline
Names of Ships, Air and Space craft – italics or underline
Title of Poems – quotation marks
Title of Long Poems – italics or underline
Title of Plays – italics
Title of Short Stories – quotation marks
Song Titles – quotation marks
Titles of Television Shows and Movies – italics
Television and Radio Episode Titles – quotation marks
Title of Video Game, Computer Software – italics or underline
Names for Work of Art – italics or underline

Note that the names of the standard religious works and texts do not use any of these three formatting techniques – italics, underline or quotation marks.  The Bible, the Koran, the Talmud are capitalized but otherwise they use no special formatting.

The choice of punctuation for titles is dependent on the kinds of titles you use.

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