Can a Movie Be Entitled?

A copy editor recently posed an interesting question to colleagues on social media: Should he continue trying to maintain a distinction between “entitled” and “titled”? Or should he start allowing “entitled” to refer to the name of a book, movie or other work?

It’s an esoteric issue, to say the least — rooted in a disparity between editing styles.

The Associated Press Stylebook has, for decades, issued this simple and clear advice regarding the word “entitled”: “Use it to mean a right to do or have something. Do not use it to mean titled. AP’s examples of correct usage: “She was entitled to the promotion” and “The book was titled ‘Gone With the Wind.’”

Pretty straightforward stuff, provided you don’t follow the Chicago Manual of Style. This guide, which is used by most book publishers, doesn’t register an opinion one way or the other.

So what's a conscientious writer to do? I tackle that in this recent column.



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