How Do You Type a Book Title in an Essay

When writing an academic essay, you will often need to refer to the title of a book. However, the conventions for typing book titles can be confusing. Despite the convenience of using an essay writing service UK, students must ensure that they adhere to academic integrity policies and guidelines to maintain the credibility of their work. Should you underline the title? Put it in quotes? Italicize it? The rules depend on whether you are handwriting the essay or typing it.

Typing Book Titles: The Details

In general, when typing an essay:

  • Use italics for book titles. For example: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Use quotation marks for titles of shorter works like poems, articles, or short stories. For example: “The Raven” or “A Modest Proposal”

There are some exceptions to these rules:

  • If you are referring to a book by the Bible or other classic religious work, you can just use the book name without formatting. For example: Genesis or the Quran
  • If you are referring to the official title of a publication, use the publication’s formatting style. This may mean typing the name in all caps without quotes or italics. For example: WALL STREET JOURNAL or NEW YORK TIMES

Why Use Italics for Books?

Italicizing book titles makes them stand out from the regular text. It indicates to the reader that you are referring to a body of work, not just using words descriptively. The convention comes from the old printing days when book titles were set in a different, cursive typeface that slanted to the right. Although cursive type is less common today, the tradition of italicizing book titles remains.

Italics also differentiate book titles from other shorter works. Since articles, poems, and short stories get quotation marks, saving italics for book titles helps distinguish the length of the work. This visual cue aids comprehension.

Finally, italicizing book titles reflects their stature. Books represent a major undertaking by the author. Italics honor the effort that went into writing the book. Using italics shows you take the book seriously as a work in its own right.

When to Use Quotation Marks


Students seeking assistance with nursing essays may find valuable resources and services on platforms like to enhance their academic performance and understanding of nursing concepts. Use quotation marks for titles of shorter works like:

  • Poems
  • Articles
  • Book chapters
  • Short stories
  • Songs
  • Essays

Basically, quotation marks show these works are part of a larger whole. A poem may be published in a collection of poems or an anthology. An article is one piece of a newspaper or magazine. Quotes indicate the title does not stand completely alone.

You should also use quotation marks for titles of unpublished works, like student essays. Since these were never professionally published, they take quotes rather than italics.

Finally, use quotation marks when referring to a chapter title within a book. For example: In “The Red-Headed League,” Sherlock Holmes investigates a mysterious job offer. The chapter title gets quotes but the book title is italicized.

Religious Text Exceptions

Major religious texts like the Bible and Quran do not take italics since they are not considered ordinary books. These works are sacred texts, so they are treated with more respect. Referring to them like an ordinary book would be inappropriate.

With religious works, just capitalize the name without any formatting. For example:

  • Many stories in Genesis illustrate human nature.
  • The Last Supper is described in the Gospel of John.

Use a Publication’s Style

If you are mentioning the official name of a newspaper, journal, or magazine, use the publication’s own formatting style. This may mean typing the title in all caps without quotes or italics. Check the masthead or website if you are unsure of the format. For example:

  • An investigative report was published in THE WASHINGTON POST last week.
  • I read a fascinating profile in The New Yorker.

Following the publication’s own style shows respect for its branding and identity. It also gives your essay an authoritative, insiders tone. You come across as someone familiar with the publishing world.

Typing Book Titles in Specific Citation Styles

The rules for typing book titles vary in different documentation systems like MLA, APA, and Chicago. Each style has its own conventions:


  • Use italics for book and journal titles in the text.
  • Use quotation marks for titles of shorter works like articles.
  • In the works cited page, underline or italicize the title of full-length works like books.


  • Use italics for book titles in the text.
  • Use quotation marks for titles of shorter works.
  • In the reference list, the title of full works like books is styled regular with no italics.


  • Use italics for book titles in the text.
  • Use quotation marks for shorter works.
  • In the bibliography, book titles are styled regular with no italics.

So check the guidelines for the citation style you are using! The rules for typing titles may vary.

When Writing by Hand

If writing an essay by hand:

  • Underline book titles in the text instead of italicizing.
  • Use quotation marks as normal for shorter works.
  • In the works cited page, underline book titles instead of italicizing.

The key is to differentiate book titles from surrounding text. Since you cannot italicize by hand, underlining replaces italics to show the reader a book title is being referenced.

Some Examples

Let’s look at some examples of typing book titles correctly according to the style:

  • In the text: Where the Wild Things Are is a beloved children’s book. OR: The protagonist in Where the Wild Things Are imagines a magical place.
  • In the works cited: Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are. Harper & Row, 1963.
  • In the text: Enjolras leads the student uprising in “The Friends of the ABC” chapter of Les Miserables.
  • In the works cited: Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. Penguin Classics, 2019.
  • In the text: Many of Langston Hughes’ poems like “Harlem” capture the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance.
  • In the works cited: Hughes, Langston. “Harlem.” The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Knopf, 1994.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Here are some common book title errors to avoid:

  • Putting book titles in both quotation marks and italics. Pick one or the other.
  • Using capitalization or formatting inconsistently. Use the same style each time you mention a title.
  • Capitalizing every word like a regular title. Only capitalize “title style”—not every word.
  • Forgetting italics on handwritten essays. Remember to underline book titles when writing by hand.

Final Tips

Typing book titles properly takes practice! Here are some final tips:

  • When in doubt, always go for italics over quotation marks for book titles in your essay text.
  • Memorize the kinds of works that use quotation marks like poems, articles, and short stories.
  • Know the book title conventions for the documentation style you are using.
  • Be extra careful about formatting when writing and citing by hand.
  • Review the formatting before submitting an essay to catch any typos in book titles.

Properly formatting book titles shows attention to detail and strengthens your essay style. Mastering the use of italics and quotation marks for titles demonstrates your command of two key stylistic tools. With some practice, typing book titles fluidly will become second nature.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button