Punctuating Titles

Mr. V kindly put this together, and I think it is a very helpful way of knowing how to punctuate titles.

Underlines/Italics or Quotation Marks?


Do I underline a song title? What about a painting?


THE BIG AND LITTLE TRICK.


BIG things and things that can stand on their own, like books, are underlined/italicized.


LITTLE things that are dependent or that come as part of a group, like chapters, are put into quotation “” marks.



For example, a CD or album is a major (big) work that can be divided into smaller parts, or songs. The song names (small part) are punctuated with quotation marks (e.g., The Sweet Escape, by Gwen Stefani, includes the song "Wind It Up").

Underline/Italicize any published collection, like a book of poetry. Put the individual entry, like a poem, in quotation “” marks.  However: a long, epic poem that is often published on its own would be treated like a book. The Odyssey is one example.


Works of Art

Creating a work of art is an enormous task, right? For that reason, you can think of art as a big accomplishment.



Michelangelo's David

Mona Lisa


The Last Supper


The Pieta


Note: A photograph, which is much smaller than a work of art, is placed in quotation marks (e.g., this picture is called, “Molly and our dog Lucy”).

Titles and Names to Italicize

  • A novel

  • A ship

  • A play

  • A film

  • A painting

  • A sculpture or statue

  • A drawing

  • A CD

  • A TV Series

  • A cartoon series

  • An encyclopedia

  • A magazine

  • A newspaper

  • A pamphlet

Titles to Put Into Quotation Marks

  • Poem

  • Short story

  • A skit

  • A commercial

  • An individual episode in a TV series (like "The Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld)

  • A cartoon episode, like "Trouble With Dogs"

  • A chapter

  • An magazine or newspaper article

  • A news story




More Tips on Punctuating Titles

Some titles are merely capitalized and NOT given additional punctuation. These include:

Religious works, like The Bible or The Koran

Buildings, Monuments
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