Do You Put the Title of a Book in Quotes?

If you’re wondering whether the title of a book should be in quotes or not, the answer is: it depends. In this blog post, we’ll go over when to use quotes for book titles and when you can get away with not using them.

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When to put the title of a book in quotes

When writing the title of a book in a report or paper, the title should be italicized. If you are referring to the title of a short story, poem, or article, it should be in quotation marks.

Why you might put the title of a book in quotes

You might put the title of a book in quotes if you are referring to it as a concrete object, as in “I’m reading ‘The Catcher in the Rye.'” You might also use quotes if you are referring to the title as an example of a particular genre or type of book, as in “have you read any good ‘chick lit’ lately?”

How to format the title of a book in quotes

When you refer to the title of a book in academic writing, there are a few formatting rules you need to follow. The title should be in italics, with all major words capitalized. If the book is part of a series, you should also include the series name in italics, after the title of the book. For example:

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

What other punctuation to use with the title of a book

While you are writing the title of a book, you must apply only one set of quotation marks. The title of the book should be written in italics if you are typing it on a computer. If you are handwriting the title, then you must underline it. Other than that, there is no need for any other punctuation marks.

Titles of short stories, essays, and poems

The titles of short stories, essays, and poems are enclosed in double quotations. Marks of punctuation are generally placed outside the quotation marks if they’re not part of the title.

Italics vs. Quotation Marks

When you’re writing something that is a direct quote, you need to use quotation marks. This indicates to the reader that these are the exact words that were spoken or written by someone else. If you’re just mentioning the title of a work, however, you don’t need quotation marks. For example, if you’re writing an essay about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, you would write the title like this: To Kill a Mockingbird.

Other considerations for titles

Other considerations for titles
Aside from quotation marks, other potential markers of titles include italics, underlining, and initial caps. For instance, you might find yourself wanting to use all caps for the title of a particularly long book, like Atlas Shrugged or War and Peace. In this case, you can either use all caps or italics; using both would be overkill.

The same goes for underlining and italics; if you’re going to underline a title, there’s no need to also put it in italics. Some teachers prefer one method over the other; if you’re not sure what your teacher prefers, ask. When in doubt, though, default to quotation marks.

Examples of titles in quotes

The titles of certain works are indicated with quotation marks, others with italics, and yet others with regular type. The style presented here is consistent with The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.) and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.), and is appropriate for most academic and professional writing.

Quotation marks are used for works that appear within larger works—e.g., chapters in books; articles in journals; episodes of television series; songs on soundtracks.

Italics are appropriate for:

-Titles of longer works: books, magazines, newspapers, films, TV series, plays
-Works that stand alone as a single entity: e.g., paintings, sculptures

Titles of shorter works should be enclosed in double quotation marks—e.g., “The Iliad,” “Night.”

Exceptions to the rule

There is no definitive answer, but the general rule is that short works like articles, poems, and chapters should be enclosed in quotation marks, while longer works like books, movies, and TV shows are usually italicized. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, if you are referring to a specific edition of a book, you would put that in quotation marks, since it is a short work.


The title of a book should be enclosed in double quotation marks. When writing the title of a book in an academic paper, keep in mind that your professor may require you to follow specific formatting guidelines. For instance, some professors may ask you to boldface or italicize the title of the book, or to write it out in full. If you’re unsure about how your professor wants you to format the title, ask for clarification before you submit your work.

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