Titles are everywhere; we need them in order to be able to refer to any of the countless stories, pictures, blogs, movies, books, songs, and other works of art being created every single day. Since most writing is about things you’ve experienced- things you’ve read, seen, heard, or touched – chances are very high that you will be including a title of something one day in your writing.
Before that happens, though, you need to know the rules that govern how to correctly write titles. And when I say “titles, ” I’m not referring to forms of addressing people. Although I’m sure there are specific rules of etiquette that govern when to call someone “Miss” or “Ms., ” the rules I will be describing in this post apply to works of art, like books and music.
When it comes to titles, you can either italicize them or put them in quotation marks. The 7th edition of the MLA Handbook eliminates underlining (underlining is still acceptable when hand-writing papers). Skip to the end of this post to see a note about underlining titles. Keeping the rules for italicizing and using quotation marks straight isn’t easy, which is why there are different techniques that make remembering when to do what easier.
Big Things and Little Things
One way of looking at titles is to determine if it belongs to something that is big or something that is little. A big thing is something that contains little things. For example, a CD album contains many songs. A book contains many chapters. An anthology contains many essays or stories. A web site contains many web pages. A TV series contains many episodes. You get the point.
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