English GrammarPunctuationsWriting

When to Use Quotation Marks for Titles

Understanding Title Punctuation: Quotation Marks

Are you clear on when to punctuate titles with quotation marks? Many students grapple with this issue, particularly in scholarly writing where referencing sources is frequent. Fortunately, there are established patterns that guide the correct usage of italics or quotation marks for titles, regardless of the style guide in use.

In the following sections, we delineate the instances where quotation marks are appropriate for titles (and when italics should be utilized instead). We’ll scrutinize title conventions across the three principal style guides—APA, MLA, and Chicago—and provide tips to determine which format suits various title types.

Guidelines for Using Quotation Marks with Titles

Quotation marks (“ ”) traditionally denote spoken words or exact excerpts from texts, but they also play a role beyond mere punctuation. For specific types of creative works, quotation marks are employed to distinguish titles.

The basic principle is to apply quotation marks to titles of brief compositions such as articles, poems, songs, essays, or short stories. In contrast, italics are reserved for extensive works like books, films, and names of journals. A comprehensive breakdown is presented below.

Deciding Between Italics and Quotation Marks for Titles

The dilemma often arises about whether to italicize or quote titles. Below is a succinct guide to which forms of works are associated with each punctuation style.

Titles That Incorporate Quotation Marks
– journal pieces
– newspaper and magazine pieces
– online articles and blog posts
– titles of essays
– poems (excluding epics)
– brief narratives
– musical tracks
– individual chapters
– speeches
– single episodes from TV series, podcasts, and other serialized formats
– web page headings
– subsections within more extensive works
– brief video content, like YouTube clips

Examples of Quotation-Marked Titles


“Charting the Expanding Reach of Private Equity in Healthcare”

(Journal of the American Medical Association)


“Sewer Rate Hike on the Agenda for Sonoma County Supervisors”

(The Press Democrat)

“European Union Greenlights Microsoft’s Multibillion Activision Acquisition”

(The New York Times)


“What Happens to a Dream Deferred?”

(Langston Hughes)


“The Inevitable Ascent”

(Flannery O’Connor)

“Edges of Solitude”

(Annie Proulx)


“Perched on the Bay’s Edge”

(Otis Redding)


(Daoi Freyr)

Book Sections:

“The Predators”

(Robotics in the Wild: The Sequel)

“Opening Swing”

(The Turning Point of Golf)


“The Peril of the Sole Narrative”

(Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

“Artistry in Business”

(John Cleese)

Podcast Installments:

“Others’ Lives”

(This American Life)

“Isolated@Work: A Long Journey to Self”

(Rough Translation)

Online Content:

“Ethical Artificial Intelligence”


“Beach Volley”


Titles Requiring Italics

– literary volumes
– collections
– scholarly papers
– grand poems (excluding shorter poems)
– titles of periodicals (including magazines, newspapers, and online news portals)
– cinema
– theatrical works
– radio series
– television series (excluding episodes)
– podcast series (excluding episodes)
– musical collections
– applications
– interactive games
– extended musical works
– renowned artwork such as paintings and statues
– academic theses
– court proceedings
– substantial vehicles like maritime ships, airplanes, and space vessels

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