Jane’s grammar nugget: Punctuating titles

Do you get confused about punctuating titles? When should I underline a title? When should I use quotations? How about italics?

The Blue Book of Grammar and PunctuationJane Straus, author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, has come to your rescue! From time to time, she will “appear” as a guest at our blog, bringing you a grammar nugget to help set the world right again.

We love The Blue Book so much that we’ve been carrying it for years in the WriteShop store. We also include it in the WriteShop Starter Pack. It’s a combination reference book and workbook, oh so easy to use, and handy for home or office. Jane’s examples are short, simple, and practical. We know you’ll love it too!

Now, about punctuating titles, Jane says: 

In the past, i.e., before computers, we were taught to underline titles of books and plays and to surround chapters, articles, songs, and other shorter works in quotation marks. However, here is what The Chicago Manual of Style says:

When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography,

  • titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized;
  • titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.

Below are some examples I thought of to help you:

Example: We read A Separate Peace in class. (title of a book)

Example: That Time magazine article, “Your Brain on Drugs,” was fascinating.
(Note that the word “magazine” was not italicized because that is not part of the actual name of the publication.)

Example: His article, “Death by Dessert,” appeared in the New York Times Magazine.
(Note that “the” is not italicized and that “magazine” is because the name of the publication is New York Times Magazine.

Reprinted by permission of Jane Straus, author of the bestselling The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, from her free Grammarbook.com e-newsletters and blogs.

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6 comments ↓

#1 Heidi on 03.19.08 at 12:38 pm

Great post!
I’ve been previewing some e-books that were submitted for sale in our store and some of the authors could use this book!
Looks great~ I’ll have to check into it.

#2 Kim on 03.19.08 at 1:53 pm

Heidi, you made me laugh! BTW, TOS reviewed the Blue Book. Gena and Jen loved it!

http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/Homeschool_Reviews/reviews.php?rid=570

#3 Autumn on 02.15.09 at 9:55 am

What about band names?

#4 Kim on 02.15.09 at 10:43 am

That’s a great question, Autumn. Band names are actually treated as proper nouns, meaning you capitalize the name of the group but do not use italics or quotation marks.

Examples:

I have an old album by the Beatles.

The Mamas & the Papas were a popular musical group during the 1960s.

My dad loves listening to oldies by Herman’s Hermits, the Rolling Stones, and the Moody Blues.

#5 Mary F. on 05.23.09 at 7:16 pm

Hi — Thanks so much for this specificity in puncuating titles. My group is publishing our first on-line newsletter and I want it to be very professional and as perfect as possible. Afterall our writing is a personal reflection!

All the Best

#6 Kim on 05.24.09 at 3:43 am

You’re welcome, Mary! Glad you stopped by.

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