Research Papers Underlined Passages

Properly Punctuating Titles

Properly punctuating titles of literature, music, art, movies, and other works can be confusing, and the rules aren’t always consistent from resource to resource regarding this topic. Also, since mistakes are prevalent, we are so used to seeing the wrong punctuation that it actually looks right!

Here are some helpful hints on how to properly punctuate titles using capitalization, italics, underlining, and quotation marks.

Step 1, Capitalize Titles Correctly!

Although rules regarding correct title capitalization vary greatly, here are a few pointers to stand by:  Capitalize the first and last word in a title and every word in the title except articles and prepositions. Some suggest capitalizing prepositions five letters or more in length, and I agree with this simply because it looks better (hence, my business name is All About Writing instead of All about Writing).

Capitalizing involves only the first letter of the word, of course.

When to Use Italics: Titles of Larger Works

Italics indicate the title of a major or larger work. Use italics for titles such as books, novels, magazines, journals, newspapers, and book-length poems, collections and anthologies; CDs, albums, ballets, operas, and longer, classical music compositions; television series,  plays, movies, and films; video games; websites; and works of art and art exhibits.

Just remember, the title of any piece that stands alone as a single, unified work should be italicized.

What About Underlining?

In general, underlining and italics are used interchangeably, so the above rules for italics also apply for underlining.

However, when using the computer or typing, italics should always be used. Underlining should replace italics in handwritten projects only, as who has mastered the art of writing in italics so that it is legible and noticeable?

When to Use Quotation Marks: Titles of Smaller Works

Since quotation marks are tiny, you can remember that they are used for smaller works within the larger work or collection. Use quotation marks for titles of poems, short stories, book chapters, and articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers; and songs, single television episodes, and commercials.

It is important to be consistent throughout your writing with properly using italics versus quotation marks. Writing handbooks (Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, APA, and many others) vary in their rules for capitalizing and punctuating titles. Certain writing projects mandate using one writing handbook’s format over the others, so for academic work, please check with your professor as to the preferred handbook to use for your writing, citation, and punctuation guidelines.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

Remember, All About Writing is here to help with writing, editing and proofreading. We can see you through your writing project, start to finish, and we never mind providing advice when writing questions arise. As always, all of our services offer a free, half-hour, in-person consultation in the Howell area to address any questions or concerns about your project.

Learn more about All About Writing and owner Christa Riddle at Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away! Call us today to schedule your free consultation and get your project underway. We are here to assist with any phase of the project.

-by Christa Riddle








MLA Format

This handout provides a quick reference to the basics of using MLA style. For complete guidelines, consult MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., call number: LB2369 .G53 2009. All page numbers provided below refer to the MLA Handbook.

Major Updates from the New (7th) Edition

·         MLA no longer requires underlining. Titles, such as books and periodical titles, are now italicized rather than underlined.

·         All entries in a reference list, whether print or electronic, must now include the medium in which they have been published (Print, Web, , Television, etc.)

·         URLs are no longer required in citations. MLA recommends that writers only include a web address if the audience is unlikely to find the source otherwise.

·          New Abbreviations: Some sources do not have a date, publisher or pagination. MLA advises, where applicable, to write n.d. for no date, n.p. for no publisher, and n.pag. for no pagination given.

Formatting Basics (pp. 115-122)

·         Double space throughout paper, with no extra spaces between paragraphs.   

·         Do not right justify.

·         Top, bottom, and side margins should be one inch.

·         Indent the first word of each paragraph by ½ inch or 5 spaces.

·         Do not use a title page for the research paper: instead simply type your name, instructor’s name, course number, and date. This should be flush with the left margin. 

·         Center the title of the paper. Do not underline the title, or put in “quotation marks,” or set in A CAPITALS. 

·         Number all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, ½ inch from the top and flush with right margin.  Type your last name before the page number, and do not use “p.” before the number.

 Works Cited (pp. 123-212)

MLA style requires that the list of Works Cited start on a new page at the end of your paper.  Formatting rules include:

·         Continue page numbering from the body of your paper.

·         Center the title “Works Cited,” one inch from the top.

·         Alphabetize entries by the author’s last name. If no author, alphabetize by the title (ignore A, An,The).

·         Use a hanging indent.

For books (pp. 148-181):

·         Name(s) of authors or editors.  If only citing one chapter within a book, the author and title (in “quotation marks”) of the chapter.

·         Title of book (including subtitle) italicized.

·         City of publication, name of the publisher, and year of publication.

·         Medium of publication.

·         Edition (only if 2nd ed. or later).

·         Volume number (if there is one).

·         If citing one chapter within a book, the page numbers of the chapter.

For print journal and magazine articles (pp. 136-148):

·         Names of authors.

·         Title of article in “quotation marks.”

·         Title of journal or magazine italicized.

·         Volume number (for a journal).

·         Issue number (for a journal, if available).

·         Date of publication (for journal article, note year only).

·         Page numbers of the article.

·         Medium of publication (Print).

For journal and magazine articles acquired using a library database (pp. 192-193):

·         Names of authors.

·         Title of article in “quotation marks.”

·         Title of journal or magazine italicized.

·         Volume number and issue number (for a journal).

·         Date of publication (for journal article, note year only).

·         Page numbers of the article as originally published in print journal.

·         Name of the database italicized.

·         Medium of publication (Web).

·         Date of access (day, month, and year).


For websites (pp. 181-190):

·         Name of author or editor (if given).

·         Title of the work italicized if the work is independent; in quotation marks if it is part of a larger work.

·         Title of the overall website italicized, if distinct from above.

·         Publisher or sponsor of the site; if not available, use n.p.

·         Date of publication (day, month, and year), if not available, use n.d.

·         Medium of publication (Web).

·         Date of access (day, month, and year).

Examples of Citations

Book with one author:

Steele, Timothy. The Color Wheel: Poems. : Johns UP, 1994. Print.

Book with two or three authors:

Broer, Lawrence R., and Gloria Holland. Hemingway and Women: Female Critics and the Female

                Voice.: U of P, 2002. Print.

Book with four or more authors:

Jones, Terry, et al.Who Murdered Chaucer?: A Medieval Mystery: Thomas Dunne Books,

2004. Print.

Chapter in a book:

Naremore, James. "Hitchcock at the Margins of Noir." Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary Essays

Ed. Richard Allen and S. Ishii-Gonzales. : BFI, 1999. 263-77.  Print.


Murasaki Shikibu. The Tale of GenjiTrans. Royall Tyler.  : Viking, 2001.  Print.

Print journal article:

Levine, June Perry. “Passage to the Odeon: Too Lean.” Literature Film Quarterly  

14.3 (1986): 139-50. Print.

Journal article acquired using a library database:

Letemendia, V. C. “Revolution on Animal Farm: Orwell's Neglected Commentary.” Journal of Modern Literature 18.1 (1992): 127-37. JSTOR . Web. 6 July 2009.


Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web.  7 July 2009.

Newspaper article:

Daker, Susan.  “No Happy for Refiners.” Wall Street Journal 3 July 2009: C10.  Print.


Chocolat.  Dir. Lasse Hallstrom.  Perf.  Alfred Molina and Juliette Binoche. 2000.  Miramax, 2003.  DVD.


Parenthetical Citations (pp. 213-232)

•          References in your paper must clearly point to specific sources in your list of Works Cited.

•          In most cases, providing the author’s last name and the page number is sufficient: 

Medieval was a place both of “raids, pillages, slavery, and extortion” and of “traveling merchants, monetary exchange, towns if not cities, and active markets in grain” (Townsend 10).

•          If you have several works by the same author, also include the title (abbreviated if long):

(Frye, Double Vision 85).

•          If no author is listed, use the title (shortened if long):

Voice of the Shuttle has many electronic sources.

•          If using the title, remember to use correct punctuation: italicize book titles, use quotation marks for journal articles, short stories, book chapters, etc.

•          The author’s name can be referred to within the sentence:

Tannen has argued this point (178-85).

        …or the author’s name can be referred to within the parenthetical reference:

This point has already been argued (Tannen 178-85).

For additional help

•          Consult Joseph Gibaldi’s MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed,
available at the Reference Desk and on Reserve.

•          Refer to the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at :

•          Utilize bibliographic management tools such as…
                -RefWorks -

                        - Zotero (Firefox only) -

        - Knight Cite -

•          Ask a Librarian at any public or college library, or use the AskNow 24/7 internet chat service:


Leave a Comment


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