Italics, Quotation Marks–Which One Do I Use?

Reference Page:  When to Use Italics for a Title

Italics are used in the titles of

  • Books
  • Full-length plays
  • Long poems
  • Music albums
  • Anything that has sections, like anthologies or collections
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Movies
  • Television and radio shows
  • Ships (With ships and other craft, the USS or the HMS is not italicized.)
  • Airplanes
  • Spacecrafts
  • Trains
  • Some scientific names
  • Court cases
  • Works of art
  • Musical works like operas and musicals
  • Computer and video games

Of course, italicizing is easy on the computer, but what about if you are hand writing something? In such cases, underlining is still used and is the same as writing a title in italics. However, you should not both italicize and underline a title.

When to Use Quotation Marks

Quotation marks enclose the titles of:

  • Short works
  • Sections of long works including chapters, articles, songs, short stories, essays, poems, short films, and any other time a long work is included in an anthology or collection
  • Technically, television shows and movies are to be italicized because individual scenes or episodes would be put in quotation marks.  However, many times these titles are put in quotation marks and you will find this done quite often, especially in reviews.

When Not to Use Italics or Quotation Marks

Titles of things that should not be in italics or quotation marks are:

  • Scriptures of major religions (italicize the title of the published version)
  • Constitutional documents
  • Legal documents
  • Traditional games (such as leapfrog)
  • Software
  • Commercial products (such as Cocoa Puffs)

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