Resources › For Students and Parents When to Punctuate Titles in Italics or Quotes Share Flipboard Email Print Illustration by Claire Cohen. © 2018 ThoughtCo. For Students and Parents Homework Help Learning Styles & Skills Homework Tips Study Methods Time Management Private School Test Prep College Admissions College Life Graduate School Business School Law School Distance Learning View More By Grace Fleming Education Expert M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia B.A., History, Armstrong State University Grace Fleming, M.Ed., is a senior academic advisor at Georgia Southern University, where she helps students improve their academic performance and develop good study skills. our editorial process Grace Fleming Updated September 22, 2019 You may have wondered in the middle of typing up a research project: Do I italicize a song title? What about a painting? Even the most experienced writers have a problem remembering the proper punctuation for certain types of titles. Books are italicized (or underlined) and articles are put in quotation marks. That's about as far as many people can remember. Many teachers require students to use Modern Language Association style for research papers and essays covering language arts, cultural studies, and the humanities. There is a trick to remembering how to treat titles in MLA style, and it works well enough that you can commit most types of titles to memory. It's the big and little trick. Big Things vs. Little Things Big things and things that can stand on their own, like books, are italicized. Little things that are dependent or that come as part of a group, like chapters, are put into quotation marks. Think of a CD or an album as a major (big) work that can be divided into smaller parts, or songs. The individual song names (small part) are punctuated with quotation marks. For example: The Sweet Escape, by Gwen Stefani, includes the song "Wind It Up." While this is not a perfect rule, it can be helpful for determining whether to italicize or surround an item in quotation marks when you have no resources at hand. Furthermore, italicize or underline any published collection, like a book of poetry. Put the individual entry, like a poem, in quotation marks. However: a long, epic poem that is often published on its own would be treated like a book. The Odyssey is one example. Punctuating Titles of Works of Art Creating a work of art is an enormous task. For that reason, you can think of art as a big accomplishment. That might sound a bit corny, but it will help you remember. Individual works of art, like paintings and sculptures, are underlined or italicized: Michelangelo's DavidMona LisaThe Last SupperThe Pieta Note that a photograph—although not any less significant or important—is often much smaller than a work of created art, and is placed in quotation marks. Following are guidelines for punctuating titles according to MLA standards. Titles and Names to Italicize Works to put in italics include: A novelA shipA playA filmA paintingA sculpture or statueA drawingA CDA TV SeriesA cartoon seriesAn encyclopediaA magazineA newspaperA pamphlet Titles to Put Into Quotation Marks When deciding how to handle smaller works, put quotation marks around: A poemA short storyA skitA commercialAn individual episode in a TV series (like "The Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld)A cartoon episode, like "Trouble With Dogs"A chapterAn articleA newspaper story More Tips on Punctuating Titles Some titles are merely capitalized and not given additional punctuation. These include: Religious works, like the Bible or the KoranBuildingsMonuments Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Fleming, Grace. "When to Punctuate Titles in Italics or Quotes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/punctuating-titles-1857242. Fleming, Grace. (2020, August 28). When to Punctuate Titles in Italics or Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/punctuating-titles-1857242 Fleming, Grace. "When to Punctuate Titles in Italics or Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/punctuating-titles-1857242 (accessed January 23, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: Why is Proper Grammar Important?