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You’re Getting on My Last Nerve:

Quotation Marks and Italics

Okay!  Some of you folks are getting on my last nerve: quit screwing up quotation marks…and for that matter, italics (underlines).  I know you have a short little attention span, so we'll only cover one aspect of the use of quotation marks and italics this month, titles.


A song title goes in quotation marks.  The title of an album is italicized (underlined).

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club (title of an album)

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (title of a song)


The title of a short story goes in quotation marks.  The title of a novel or novella is italicized (underlined).  Titles of all books are italicized (underlined).

"The Snows of Kilimanjaro" (title of a short story)

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (title  of a collection of short stories)

The Old Man and the Sea (title of a novella)

The Sun Also Rises (title of a novel)


The title of an essay goes in quotation marks.  The title of a book of essays is italicized (underlined).

“Self-Reliance” (title of an essay)

Self-Reliance and Other Essays  (title of a collection of essays)


The title of an article in a magazine, journal, or newspaper goes in quotation marks.  The title of the magazine, journal, or  newspaper is italicized or underlined.

“Obama's Trauma Team” (title of an article)

Time (title of a magazine)

“Amid Details on Torture, Data on 26 Who Were Held in Error” (title of an article)

The New York Times (title of a newspaper)

“Progesterone for Severe Traumatic Brain Injury” (title of an article)

The New England Journal of Medicine (title of a journal)


The title of a one-act play goes in quotation marks.  The title of a full-length play is italicized (underlined).

“Suddenly, Last Summer” (title of a one-act play)

A Streetcar Named Desire (title of a full-length play)


The title of an episode of a TV program goes in quotation marks.  The title of the TV program is italicized (underlined).

“The Bunkers and Inflation” (title of an episode)

All in the Family (title of a TV series)


The title of a short film goes in quotation marks.  The title of full-length film is italicized (underlined).

“Yours and Mine”  (title of short film)

Gone with the Wind (title of full-length film)


Titles of short poems go in quotation marks.  Monstrously long poems’ titles are italicized (underlined).

“Fog” (short poem)

The Iliad (monstrously long poem)


You get the drift?  A long work or complete work is italicized (underlined).  A short work or portion of a work is placed in quotation marks.


Don’t ask me what is considered short or full-length or monstrously long: that’s a matter of judgment.


One more thing---I hate to have to say this---if you write an essay or poem or short story, don’t use quotations around the title of the work in the work...only when you’re referring to the title.  For example, at the top of this page is the title of this essay: note, no quotation marks.

enough