Italics or quotation marks for movie and book titles?

When you’re writing titles of movies, books and other compositions, you usually have a choice between using italics and putting them in quotation marks.

Associated Press style says to put movie and book titles in quotation marks. “Star Wars.” “Slaughterhouse Five.” That makes sense when you consider that AP is a news writing style and early printing presses could not make italics.

The Chicago Manual of Style, which is followed by book and magazine publishers, says to use italics for book and movie titles. Star Wars. Slaughterhouse Five.

Neither style says to underline titles, which throws off a lot of writers who remember doing so in school. But that convention of some academic styles isn’t really followed in professional publishing.

As for those ALL-CAPITAL TITLES THAT SEEM TO SCREAM AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS, those are common in marketing writing. But you won’t find titles written that way in newspapers or books. In fact, even proper names that are supposed to be in all caps, like the entertainment complex L.A. LIVE, don’t stay all caps in many newspapers. This one, for example, becomes L.A. Live.

Both AP and Chicago have special rules for song titles, magazine titles, composition titles, poem titles, and just about anything else that a writer has given a name to. There are too many to commit to memory. If you absolutely need to get them right, consult a style guide. Otherwise, don’t sweat these too much. It’s probably fine to just choose one style — quotation marks or italics — for all. No one will think less of you for not knowing every little rule. After all, even editors often have to double-check.

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