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Punctuating titles | Jane’s grammar nugget

by | Feb 27, 2017 | Grammar & Spelling

Learn to punctuate titles with Jane's Grammar Nugget

Do you get confused about punctuating titles? When should I underline a title? When should I use quotations? How about italics?

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation has come to your rescue! From time to time, articles by the late Jane Straus appear on our blog, bringing you a grammar nugget to help set the world right again.

We love The Blue Book so much that we’ve been carrying it for years in the WriteShop store. We also include it in the WriteShop Starter Bundle. It’s a combination reference book and workbook, oh so easy to use, and handy for home or office. Jane’s examples are short, simple, and practical. We know you’ll love it too!

Jane Says

In the past, i.e., before computers, we were taught to underline titles of books and plays and to surround chapters, articles, songs, and other shorter works in quotation marks. However, here is what The Chicago Manual of Style says:

When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography,

  • titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized;
  • titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.

Below are some examples I thought of to help you:

Example: We read A Separate Peace in class. (title of a book)

Example: That Time magazine article, “Your Brain on Drugs,” was fascinating.
(Note that the word “magazine” was not italicized because that is not part of the actual name of the publication.)

Example: His article, “Death by Dessert,” appeared in the New York Times Magazine.
(Note that “the” is not italicized and that “magazine” is because the name of the publication is New York Times Magazine.

Reprinted by permission of Jane Straus, late author of, author of the bestselling The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, from her free Grammarbook.com e-newsletters and blogs.