Formatting article titles can be very confusing.
Do you italicize article titles? Put them in quotes? Underline them? If you’ve ever struggled with how to format titles, this blog post is for you. I’ve definitely been there, so I compiled 11 quick answers you should know about italicizing article titles.
Even though the answer is pretty straightforward—No, you don’t italicize article titles—many writers still get confused when faced with specific situations. Maybe you can relate. We will look at 11 different scenarios so that we cover all the bases (only one scenario has an exception).
The best part is that the answers will be simple and direct with plenty of examples so that there is zero confusion.
So sit back, relax, and let’s talk about how to italicize article titles.
Do Article Titles Get Italicized?
You do not italicize article titles. You place double quotation marks around article titles. This formatting rule applies to article titles in MLA, APA, Chicago Style, scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, online, and most reference sections. The only time you detour from quotation marks is when you write titles in an APA-style reference list. In that case, you write the title without any special formatting (italics, quotation marks, or underline).
That’s the simple, direct answer.
Here are two simple examples of a properly formatted article title:
Wrong: Is Superman a Pisces
Right: “Is Superman a Pisces?”
Now, let’s look at other specific questions you might ask yourself when writing.
Do You Italicize Article Titles in MLA?
No, you do not italicize the titles of articles in MLA. You place the article title in quotes.
Here are two examples:
Wrong: 5 Signs He’s Too Tall For You
Right: “5 Signs He’s Too Tall For You”
Here’s an example of a complete MLA citation from a real article:
Kokoski, Christopher. “How To Become a Fortune Cookie Writer.” Christopher Kokoski, 16 Apr. 2021, www.writingbeginner.com/how-to-become-a-fortune-cookie-writer.
MLA, by the way, stands for Modern Language Association. The MLA Handbook is basically a stylebook for how to write information, format documents, and cite sources.
Do You Italicize Article Titles in APA?
You do not italicize article titles in APA. You place double quotation marks around the titles of articles.
Here are two examples:
Wrong: Will Ferrell Loves Baby Jesus
Right: “Will Ferrell Loves Baby Jesus”
APA stands for the American Psychological Association. APA is another style of writing, formatting, and citing information.
Do You Italicize Article Titles in APA References?
No, you do not italicize article titles in APA references or citation lists. You also don’t need to underline the title or put the title in quotes. You simply write the article title without any special formatting.
I understand the confusion when it comes to referencing sources in a list of citations at the end of a paper or article. The rule on titles is still “No, don’t italicize article titles,” but that doesn’t tell you WHAT to do.
The answer is that you don’t need to do anything at all. You simply list the title. Note that this is the ONLY exception to the answer in the answer box image at the beginning of this post.
Still, you don’t italicize the article title.
Here are two examples:
Wrong: Kokoski, C. (2021, April 16). How To Become a Fortune Cookie Writer. Christopher Kokoski. https://www.writingbeginner.com/how-to-become-a-fortune-cookie-writer/
Right: Kokoski, C. (2021, April 16). How To Become a Fortune Cookie Writer. Christopher Kokoski. https://www.writingbeginner.com/how-to-become-a-fortune-cookie-writer/
Keep in mind that style handbooks, like APA, tend to change over time. It’s a good idea to always check with the latest version of the APA style guide.
Do Journal Article Titles Get Italicized?
You do not italicize journal articles. You place double quotation marks around the title of journal articles in MLA and do not format the title of the journal articles at all in APA.
The confusion with scholarly journals is that you italicize the name of the journal, but you place quotes around the title of the articles in the journal. There is also a difference between the rules for MLA and APA-style reference lists.
However, in all cases, you do not italicize the title of journal articles.
Here are examples from MLA:
Wrong: Shamblen, Stephen & Kokoski, Christopher & Collins, David & Strader, Ted & Mckiernan, Patrick. (2017). Implementing Creating Lasting Family Connections with reentry fathers: A partial replication during a period of policy change. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. 56. 1-13. 10.1080/10509674.2017.1327917.
Right: Shamblen, Stephen & Kokoski, Christopher & Collins, David & Strader, Ted & Mckiernan, Patrick. (2017). “Implementing Creating Lasting Family Connections with reentry fathers: A partial replication during a period of policy change.” Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. 56. 1-13. 10.1080/10509674.2017.1327917.
Do You Italicize Article Titles in Chicago Style?
What about Chicago Style? This is a good question since some of the “rules” are different between the style guides. However, the rule for italicizing article titles is the same.
You do not italicize article titles in Chicago Style. You place the title of the article in quotation marks.
Here are a few examples of Chicago Style:
Wrong: His article, Writing Love Squares: 13 Things You Need To Know, made some fascinating points!
Right: His article, “Writing Love Squares: 13 Things You Need To Know,” made some fascinating points!
Do Newspaper Article Titles Get Italicized?
You do not italicize the title of articles in newspapers. You place the title in double quotation marks. However, you do italicize the name of the newspaper.
Here are examples:
Wrong: Her article, Salvation by Dessert, appeared in The New York Times.
Right: Her article, “Salvation by Dessert,” appeared in The New York Times.
Note that, in these examples, the title of the specific article is in quotes but the title of the newspaper is italicized.
Should Any Article Titles Be Italicized?
You never italicize any entire article titles. You might, however, italicize unfamiliar foreign words or the titles of books you mention within an article title. But you do not italicize the entire article title under any circumstance.
I know this is somewhat of a repeat of the first question in the article, but sometimes I find it helpful to ask (and answer) the silly questions that summarize the information in a blog post. Hopefully, this slight repeat helps you as it might help others.
For the sake of clarity, here are more examples of how to format article titles:
Wrong: The Problem With Smurfette
Right: “The Problem With Smurfette”
Since we’re about to look at a few rare scenarios you might face, here is a short video from Khan Academy to really nail down how to use quotation marks in titles:
Do You Italicize Foreign Words in Article Titles?
Ok, so you don’t italicize article titles. You probably have that down now (including the one exception for writing unformatted article titles in the reference list at the end of a paper or journal article written in the APA style).
But what about foreign words within the title of your article?
Italicize individual foreign words or short phrases that readers might not understand. Therefore, you should italicize only the unfamiliar foreign word or phrase within the title. Place quotation marks around the complete title of the article.
How do you know if a foreign word will confuse readers?
You check the English dictionary. If a foreign word or short phrase appears in the English dictionary, you probably don’t need to italicize it. If the word or phrase doesn’t appear in the English dictionary, then you can safely italicize it.
Just remember to place double quotation marks around the entire article title.
Here are examples:
Wrong: The Best Teachers Embrace Juegos in the Classroom
Right: “The Best Teachers Embrace Juegos in the Classroom”
Do You Italicize the Title of Books in Your Article Title?
This is another very special circumstance.
You do not italicize article titles. If you name a book in the title of your article, you italicize only the name of the book. The entire article title is placed in quotation marks.
Here is an example:
Wrong: How Wicker Hollow Changed the Way I View Thriller Fiction
Right: “How Wicker Hollow Changed the Way I View Thriller Fiction”
Note: Wicker Hollow is the title of a book (in this case, it’s a book I wrote).
Do You Italicize the Title of Other Articles in Your Article Title?
This is a somewhat confusing question to ask, but I’ll try to clarify. Sometimes you include the title of another article inside your article title. For example, imagine that you want to write an article about another, separate article.
When you reference another article in your article title, you italicize only the other, referenced article. However, the overall title of your article is not italicized. Rather, you place your article title in quotes.
Let’s look at a concrete example. Perhaps you read an article titled, “Fan Fiction 101,” and want to write about it. You decide to write your own article that references, “Fan Fiction 101”.
Here is the wrong and right way to format your article title:
Wrong: “My Take on the ‘Fan Fiction 101’ Viral Trend”
Right: “My Take on the Fan Fiction 101 Viral Trend”
Summary of Answers
I know we’ve covered lots of ground in this article, so I thought you might appreciate a summary table. I wanted to keep the table super simple so I only included two categories—type of content and whether or not you italicize it.
Check it out below:
|Type of Content||Italicized? Yes or No|
|Article Titles in MLA||No|
|Article Titles in APA||No|
|Article Titles in APA Reference List||No|
|Article Titles in Chicago Style||No|
|Article Titles in Scholarly Journals||No|
|Article Titles in Newspapers||No|
|Unfamiliar Foreign Words in Article Titles||Yes|
|Book Titles included in Article Titles||Yes|
|Article Titles included inside other Article Titles||Yes|
You might consider bookmarking this article in your favorite internet browser so that you can come back to this information anytime you want for a quick refresher.
If you’re wondering when and how to actually use italics, here is a very helpful, 4-minute video from the Khan Academy:
Automatic Citation Generator
By the way, even though we already answered the question “Do you italicize article titles?”, I thought you might like a quick shortcut I use for citing sources.
My favorite automatic citation generator is made by Scribbr. It’s not perfect, but it usually works like a charm when I need a quick, accurate citation.
Best of all, it is free and generates:
- MLA citations
- APA citations
- Chicago Style citations
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found all the answers you wanted (and then some).
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