What Do Titles Look Like?

Contributor: Jennifer Blanchard. Lesson ID: 13680

Some people say they prefer math to ELA because there are a lot of straightforward rules. Well, there are simple rules in ELA too! This lesson will show you some formatting "rules" for titles!

categories

Grammar, Reading

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory
personality style
Otter, Beaver
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

The rules for formatting titles are as straightforward as the addition rule that makes 2 + 2 always equal 4.

However, unlike math, grammar rules can sometimes change.

  • How do you think title formatting rules may have changed over time?

Jot down your thoughts before continuing to see if you were right!

In this lesson, you will learn how to format titles.

Understanding these rules will help you recognize titles in writing and help you properly format your own writing so that others recognize titles within it.

  • So, any ideas on how the title formatting rules may have changed over time?

Think about how someone would have utilized italics before computers. That would be hard to replicate solely through handwriting. As computers became more common, the rules for formatting titles shifted.

But don't worry. What you learn in this lesson should stay consistent for a long, long time!

The first step when formatting a title is to determine whether it is a full work or a short work:

  Full Work   Short Work
    Type   Type
   
  • books
 
  • poems
   
  • newspapers
 
  • short stories
   
  • magazines
 
  • chapters
   
  • journals
 
  • songs
   
  • CDs
 
  • TV or radio episodes
   
  • plays
 
  • articles (internet, newspaper, or magazine)
   
  • TV shows
 
   
  • movies
   

 

Then, apply the appropriate formatting rule:

  Full Work   Short Work
    Rule   Rule
   
  • italicize or underline
 
  • put in quotation marks
   

Choose one or the other. Never do both!

 

If the name of a book series is italicized, each individual book would be put in quotation marks

   

Italics are used most often when typing.

 

Take a look at some examples:

  Full Work   Short Work
    Example   Example
   
  • books

A very popular book is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

 
  • poems

For our literature class, we had to read "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

   
  • newspapers

My grandpa has received his copy of The New York Times for over 30 years.

 
  • short stories

Have you heard of the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe?

   
  • magazines

The latest fashion trends can be found in Vogue.

 
  • chapters

Out of that whole book, "What Happened Next?" was my favorite chapter.

   
  • journals

Archives of Internal Medicine is most likely a popular journal among doctors.

 
  • songs

"Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison is a song you hear at many celebrations!

   
  • CDs

Back in the '90s, one of my first CDs was Middle of Nowhere by Hanson.

 
  • TV or radio episodes

My mom's favorite Friends episode is "The One with All the Thanksgivings".

   
  • plays

Romeo and Juliet is a classic that many people enjoy seeing at the theater.

 
  • articles (internet, newspaper, or magazine)

In the magazine Bon Appetit, there's an article titled "There's an Entire Industry Dedicated to Making Foods Crispy, and It Is WILD".

   
  • TV shows

Have you ever seen the show Full House? It has a sequel on Netflix.

 
   
  • movies

One of my cousin's favorite movies is Finding Nemo.

   

 

Whew!

  • Got all that?

Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • When abbreviating (or shortening) titles, keep the formatting consistent. So, follow the same rules of italicizing or quotation marks for the abbreviation.

You would abbreviate a title if it was very long and you were referring to it multiple times in your writing.

For example, you could choose to abbreviate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Huckleberry Finn.

  • Sometimes formatting titles includes punctuation with those titles. The rule to this is pretty simple:

If the punctuation is part of the title, include it in the italics or quotation marks.

If the punctuation is not part of the title, make sure it's outside of the italics or quotation marks.

For example: Her favorite article is "Have You Seen the Wind?".

In that case, the question mark is part of the title, so it goes inside the quotation marks.

If you were asking a question and the question mark is not part of the title, it would look like this: Have you seen "Gone With the Wind"?

Seems pretty easy!

Click through to the Got It? section for more examples and some practice!

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