Proper Way to Write Book Titles

by Dan

Hi there,

When I write and want to talk about an author and the title of their book, how should I write the title? Should it be in quotes, underlined, italic or maybe something else?

Please help.

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Jun 02, 2013
by: Chelsey

When typing was done on typewriters, book titles were always underlined because we were not able to change the way the font looked. Shorter titles were sometimes put in quotation marks for the same reason.

Now, with computers, we can change the way words look with italics and bold print.

So, what is the correct way to show book titles when writing?

This is a good question.

Chicago Manual of Style and the Modern Language Association tell us to use italics for all titles of books, newspapers, and magazines.


Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The AP styleguide tells us to use double quotation marks around the titles of books.


"Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain

If you are writing an essay for a class or for a publication, you might ask your teacher or editor which writing style guide you should follow.

The most important thing is to pick a style and stick to it.

I usually use:

1. italics for longer works such as books
2. "quotation marks" for shorter works such as poems and articles.

To learn one way to capitalize titles, read this article:

Capitalization Rules in English

Important note about capitalization rules for titles:

There are also several different methods of capitalizing titles. These methods do not always agree.

This page does not cover all the different views, just one method that we like to use.

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