Grammar Essentials For Dummies
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In your writing, sometimes you may need to include the title of a magazine, the headline of a newspaper article, the title of a song or movie, and so on. In English, when punctuating these magazine titles, headlines, and song or movie titles, keep in mind these two options:

  • Put the title in quotation marks. Quotation marks enclose titles of smaller works or parts of a whole.

  • Set the title off from the rest of the writing with italic or underlining. By using italic or underlining, you set off titles of larger works or complete works.

These options aren’t interchangeable. Each option has a different use. To put it another way, quotation marks are for jockeys. Italic and underlining are for basketball players. One is for little, the other for big.

Use quotation marks for the titles of

  • Poems

  • Stories

  • Essays

  • Songs

  • Chapter titles

  • Magazine or newspaper articles

  • Individual episodes of a television series

  • Page of a Web site

Use italic or underlining for the titles of

  • Collections of poetry, stories, or essays

  • Titles of books

  • Titles of CDs or tapes or records (Do they still make records?)

  • Magazines or newspapers

  • Television and radio shows

  • Plays

  • The title of the entire Web site

Here are some examples:

  • “A Thousand Excuses for Missing the Tax Deadline” (a newspaper article) in The Ticker Tape Journal (a newspaper)

  • “Ode to Taxes Uncalculated” (a poem) in The Tax Poems (a book of poetry)

  • “I Got the W2 Blues” (a song title) on Me and My Taxes (a CD containing many songs)

  • “On the Art of Deductions” (an essay) in Getting Rich and Staying Rich (a magazine)

  • “Small Business Expenses” (an individual episode) on The IRS Report (a television series)

  • April 15th (a play)

  • “Deductions Unlimited” (a page in a Web site) in Beat the IRS (the title of a Web site)

When a title is alone on a line —on a title page or simply at the top of page one of a paper — don’t use italic or quotation marks. Don’t underline the title either. The centering calls attention to the title. Nothing else is needed. One exception: If part of the title is the name of another work, treat that part as you would any other title. For example, suppose you’ve written a brilliant essay about Gloria's poem, “I Hate Homework.” The title page contains this line, centered:

Freudian Imagery in “I Hate Homework”

If your brilliant essay is about the magazine Happy Thoughts, the title page includes this line (also centered):

The Decline of the School Magazine: A Case Study of Happy Thoughts

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