How to Write a Book Title in an Essay

As a student, a teacher, or someone connected to academic writing in any way, you’ve probably been wondering how to write the title of a book in an essayproperly. You might have come across this problem for a number of times and used to solve it by having your book title in quotes, brackets, or even in bold, hoping you’ve got it right. But no.

What MLA Guide Says

In order to get an exhaustive answer on how to write a title of a book in an essay,  we turn to MLA formatting guide for help. Being the simplest among its counterparts, MLA style (short for Modern Language Association) is widely used for formatting of numerous academic works like reviews or essays.

So, here’s how to write a book title in an essay in MLA format: just use italics. FYI, not only book titles should be formatted in that way but also:

  • titles of Websites;
  • anthology titles;
  • titles of journals, newspapers, magazines.

Favored by many, quotation marks are not suitable for the sources listed above. Why not? Because they are used only for sources that are not independent works but rather parts of large works. These include poems, short stories, articles from websites, journals, etc.

5 Extra Formatting Tips

Since you already know how to properly write a book title in an essay, it may be useful to learn some extra cut-in-stone rules that apply when formatting a book title in your paper. 

Remember that a properly formatted paper speaks highly of your work even though your professor might not get to read the stuffing yet. So, do your best not to spoil the positive the reader’s first impression of your paper. Make yourself a note of the following tips:

  1. Your title can never have both italics and quotation marks;
  2. Never underline your title;
  3. Proper formatting is a must each time you mention the title;
  4. The title has to look the same way throughout the text, the cover and Works Cited pages;
  5. Titles and subtitles should have all principal words capitalized (as well as the first and the last words in them).

To be a little be more specific on the latter, we don’t need to capitalize those small words: articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. As said earlier, only principal words and any two words that begin or end the title are to be capitalized. 

One more thing to note is the book titles that look like two titles in one, the primary one written in larger and the other one in smaller font size. When mentioning such a complex title in your essay, simply separate a larger font title from a smaller one with a colon. In an essay, it will look like this: The First Level Title: the Second Level Title

Taking advantage of these rules, you can easily cope with the formatting of any paper. There’s nothing difficult about formatting papers in MLA and, once you get a grasp of it, you’ll do it without even thinking. 

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