Using Sources Correctly

56 Handling Titles

Here are a few basic rules for formatting titles:


  • A long work or a complete work
    • Movie title (long work)
      • Jurassic Park
    • TV series (complete work)
      • Trailer Park Boys
    • Album (complete work)
      • Changes 
  • Periodical titles (complete work)
    • The Vancouver Sun
  • Book titles (long work)
    • Anne of Green Gables
If you are writing by hand, like in a test or if you draft by hand, will underline the title.

“Quotation Marks”

  • Short works or parts of a work
  • Article titles (part of a work—part of the complete periodical)
    • “Downtown Eastside Clean-up”
  • Chapter titles (part of a work—part of the long book)
    • “Amethyst Finally Finds Home”
    • “Grammar and Sentence Structure for Essays”
  • Songs (part of a work—part of the complete album)
    • “All Around Me”
  • Short story (short work)
    • “After ‘While”
  • Poem (short work)
    • “The Last Time I Saw Nimis”
Every word in a title is capitalized except for conjunctions (small joining words like and, but, or if), articles (a, an, and the), and prepositions (words that show position, like above, on, and between). Also, don’t capitalize “to” when it’s part of a verb (to Learn, to Practice).
  • If a colon is used within the title, the word after the colon is always capitalized, e.g., Raising Golden Retrievers: An Exercise in Power Vacuuming.
    • Add a colon to a title yourself if the title has two parts: a title and subtitle.


See if you can correctly format the following titles:

  1. Web article: people are happier when they spend time in the outdoors
  2. Short story from a magazine: once upon a time (title) a tale of lost love (subtitle)
  3. Book title: overcoming adversity in life
  4. Newspaper article: two people apprehended in attempt to rob a bank

Text Attributions

  • This chapter was adapted from “Handling Titles” in The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, which is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 Licence. Adapted by Allison Kilgannon.


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Advanced English Copyright © 2021 by Allison Kilgannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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