Have any questions? Live chat

Writing Blog

Proper Punctuation: Quotation Marks vs. Italics in Titles

June 30, 2023| Category: Writing Tips

In academic writing, it can be challenging to determine the correct application of quotation marks or italics for titles, an issue that many writers grapple with. This short article provides a comprehensive guide on the appropriate use of these punctuation symbols in titles.

Key Guidelines for Using Quotation Marks in Titles

Quotation marks (“ ”) primarily serve to denote direct speech or replicate exact excerpts from other texts, yet their usage extends beyond basic punctuation. Moreover, their role includes demarcating certain categories of titles.

The prevailing guideline encourages the application of quotation marks for titles of brief works, which include but are not limited to, articles, essays, short stories, poems, and songs. Remember, it is crucial to employ the curly (smart) quotes in academic writing. Contrarily, writers should utilize italics for longer works such as books, movies, and periodical names. An exhaustive list is detailed below.

Titles Requiring Quotation Marks
  • Articles from academic journals
  • Articles in newspapers and magazines
  • Online blog posts and news articles
  • Titles of essays
  • Poems (excluding epic poems)
  • Short narratives
  • Songs
  • Individual chapters of a book
  • Lectures
  • Specific episodes from TV shows, podcasts, or serial works
  • Web page titles
  • Titles of sections or components within longer works
  • Short video clips, as seen on YouTube
Titles Requiring Italics
  • Books
  • Compilations of works
  • Anthologies
  • Reports
  • Epic poems (excluding regular short poems)
  • Titles of periodicals (magazines, newspapers, online news websites)
  • Films
  • Plays
  • Radio broadcasts
  • TV shows (excluding separate episodes)
  • Podcasts (excluding separate episodes)
  • Music album titles
  • Applications
  • Video games
  • Operas and extensive musical compositions
  • Notable artwork such as paintings and sculptures
  • Dissertations
  • Legal proceedings
  • Large vessels including ships, airplanes, and spacecrafts
Determining the Appropriate Quotation Marks for Titles

Importantly, two variants of quotation marks exist: double quotation marks (“ ”) and single quotation marks (‘ ’). In academic writing, a writer must use double quotation marks. On the contrary, single quotation marks are to be utilized for titles that appear within another set of quotation marks.

For instance, in an article discussing Langston Hughes’s poems, with a special focus on “Harlem,” the article’s title should be:

“Reflections on ‘Harlem’ and Other Poems”

In this case, “Harlem” when mentioned independently uses standard double quotation marks. However, when one cites it within another pair of quotation marks, it is necessary to utilize single quotation marks. This practice enhances clarity, as using double quotation marks within another pair can cause confusion. Let’s review another example:

Episode Title: “The Rains of Castamere” (an episode of Game of Thrones)

Essay Title: “Why ‘The Rains of Castamere’ Is the Best Episode of Game of Thrones

Thus, it is important to note that when a title enclosed in quotation marks is embedded within an italicized title, double quotation marks should be used. For instance, see how the title that assembles Roald Dahl’s short stories is written:

“The Umbrella Man” and Other Stories

Quotation Marks for Titles: Common Questions

Why Should We Use Quotation Marks for Titles?

Evidently, writers need to use quotation marks to separate the titles of short works such as articles, essays, poems, short stories, and songs. For extended works such as books or movies, one has to use italics.

When Are Quotation Marks Used for Titles?

Use quotation marks for titles of articles, essays, poems, short stories, songs, chapters, lectures, website pages, serial work episodes (like TV shows or podcasts), section or part names within larger works, and short videos like those on YouTube.

When Do You Apply Italics?

Employ italics for titles of books, movies, plays, TV shows, podcasts, video games, applications, works of classic art (like paintings and sculptures), music albums, legal cases, dissertations, anthologies, reports, periodicals (such as magazines or newspapers), operas and extensive musical works, as well as large vessels  (like ships or aircraft).

"sandwich" approach A+ essay abstract abstract writing academic paper academic paper outline academic papers academic paper writing academic requirements academic sources academic writer academic writing academic writing issues academic writing rules academic writing tips active and passive voice in research writing active voice additive transitions adversative transitions a good book report a good summary AI-generated content AI-generated writing AI detection software tools AI detectors Alternative hypothesis an introduction to academic writing annotated bibliography annotation APA style appeals to trust and connection argument argument analysis argument analysis assignment argument analysis essay argumentative essay argumentative writing argument paragraph arguments article articles a thesis statement become a better writer become a writing guru bias bias-free language bias-free writing blogs Bloom’s Taxonomy body paragraph body sentences boost academic vocabulary brainstorming business capitalization capitalization rule capitalize capstone paper capstone project career career in writing causal transitions challenges a new freelance writer may face with characteristics of academic writing chronological order citation cite the source clarity in writing clients closing sentences coherent academic writing college essays college writing common mistakes communication in writing comparative essay compare and contrast paragraph complex assignment Complex hypothesis concept map concluding paragraph concluding sentence conclusion conclusion in academic writing conclusion in an essay conclusion writing conduct a search content content writing coordination counterargument Covid-19 creating concluding sentences creating PowerPoint presentations credible resources credible sources customer feedback decode instructions decoding professors’ instructions definition of proofreading descriptive headings descriptive paragraph diagrams difference between a literature review and an annotated bibliography division double quotation marks edit your writing effective conclusion effective headings effective paragraph elements of academic language elements of paper writing emotional appeals Empirical hypothesis essay's conclusion essay mistakes essay paragraph essay pitfalls essays essay structure essays writing essays writing tips essays writitng tips essay writing ethos explain complex concepts expository essay features of academic writing figure figures and tables first-person pronouns flow of ideas free freelance freelance jobs freelancer freelance writer freelance writers freelance writing freelance writing business Google in academic writing graphs handling difficult tasks headings heuristics high-quality papers higher-level headings high grades high school-level composition high school assignments how reading helps you become a better writer how to avoid plagiarism how to write how to write a good film review how to write capstone paper how to write phd hypothesis hypothesis writing important improve writing skills in-text citations incorporation of visuals intellectual property interpret instructions intransitive verb introduction introduction paragraph introductory paragraph italics italics for titles job journal judgmental language language and style literature review Logical hypothesis logos lower-level headings main point of the paragraph make the article engaging meeting deadlines meeting the requirements meet the deadlines methodology methodology chapter methodology section MLA style narrative paragraph non-descriptive heading note taking Null hypothesis objective tone objective writing objectivity online online writers opening paragraph opinion essay order of importance outline outline writing paper outline papers parallelism paraphrase paraphrasing passive voice past simple pathos peer response peer review personal pronouns personal response personal response essay personal response paper persuasion persuasive essay persuasive writing PhD research proposal plagiarism plan for writing planning popular and scholarly sources popular sources positive feedback PowerPoint presentation PowerPoint Presentation tips PPT PPTs presenting data in figures and tables present perfect present simple primary research problems writers face procrastination profession professional freelance writer pronouns proofreading tips qualitative methods quality quantitative methods quotation marks quotation marks for titles quote quoting racist and sexist biases in AI papers reduce word count redundancy redundant reliable sources repetition repetitive sentences repetitive writing reputable sources research research paper research paper in college research paper in high school research paper writing revising an essay rhetoric rhetorical devices rules of academic writing satisfy your customers scholarly archives scholarly materials scholarly sources second-person pronouns secondary research sentence structure sequential transitions Simple hypothesis simplifying complex assignments single quotation marks skills sources spatial order specificity spell checker spelling spelling error spelling rules start writing statistical data in academic papers Statistical hypothesis statistics statistics in academic writing stop procrastinating stress and creativity strong topic sentences structure of an expository essay subheadings subordination success successful academic writing successful papers successful paraphrasing suitable concluding sentences summary summary writing supporting evidence synthesis paper synthesize information synthesize sources table tables tables/graphs/charts task list as a guide techniques for writing summaries techniques to explain a difficult subject tenses in academic writing text structure the contents of the paper the main intention of the assignment thesis statement the structure of body paragraphs thinking levels third-person pronouns time management tips on revising an essay tips to writing a PhD research proposal tips to writing a social science paper token sentences topic of the paragraph topic sentence transitional words transitions transition terms transitive and intransitive verbs transitive verb types of academic texts typical writing problems unique idea use Google for research utilizing AI tools in academic papers vocabulary vocabulary building well-structured essay what writers can learn from reading novels word choice word count work wrap sentences write a conclusion writer writer job write unique texts writing writing a book report writing a film review writing a good PhD research proposal writing an A+ film review writing an essay writing an outline writing a paragraph writing as profession writing a statement writing a summary writing burnout writing clear writing errors writing essays writing fast writing hacks writing job writing mistakes writing mood writing papers writing pitfalls writing process writing skills writing style writing tips written communication skills