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Are Book Titles Italicized? A Guide On How To Address Book Titles

One of the most confusing rules in writing is how to indicate a book title. Are book titles italicized? Are they underlined? Or should they be in quotation marks? 

The reason it isn’t evident is that you can look at several magazine articles, newspapers, books, and other forms of publications and see it done in different ways.

So the question is, which one is right?

How to Indicate Book Titles in Writing

So which form should you use? The answer is, whatever you want. 

That’s right! How you address book titles in your writing is a variation of style not regulated by grammar law. The top stylebooks tackle the topic, but the answers differ. 

For example, The AP Stylebook recommends that you use quotation marks around book titles (except for reference material, such as almanacs and dictionaries, and the Bible, which should not be styled).

So if your publication’s style guide uses the AP Style, then you should put quotation marks on your book titles. For example: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Eat, Pray, Love.”

On the other hand, titles of books (and other complete works, such as magazines and newspapers) should be italicized, as per the Chicago Manual of Style and the Modern Language Association.

So if you follow any of those manuals, you should italicize Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, just as you would Miami Herald and Vanity Fair.

What to Do If Your Source Doesn’t Follow a Style Guide

Some publications don’t follow one style guide over others. If that’s the issue, you can randomly pick one form through all articles and content and stick to it, or you can ask your editor’s preference. 

Consistency is more important than style. So if you choose to italicize your book titles on page 10, make sure to do the same on page 156 as well! Your editor will thank you for this as it saves time on checking the occasional divergence.

Conclusion

When it comes to handling book titles in your work, just remember that consistency is the key. It’s better if you’re given a style guide to follow. But if you aren’t, just stick to any form– quotation marks, italicization, or even underling– and stick to it across all your articles and other works.

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