In my writing, should the title of my source be italicized or in quotation marks?


When you are including the title of a source within your writing, there are guidelines for which titles should be italicized and which titles should be “in quotation marks.”

Generally speaking, the title of stand-alone works should be italicized. A stand-alone work is not part of a bigger publication. For example, the book The Handmaid’s Tale or the journal The Lancet are stand-alone works.

Works that form part of a greater whole, such as book chapters, individual articles, poems, or short stories should be in quotation marks. For example, the poem “The Road Not Taken” is part of a greater whole.

One informal way to tell if something is stand-alone or part of a greater whole is called the "spine trick." If the source was printed and bound, would the title be on the spine? If yes, it's probably a stand-alone work. If no, it's probably part of a greater whole.

When you are creating your References or your Works Cited list, each citation style has specific rules regarding italics and quotation marks. For more information, please see Red Deer Polytechnic Library’s Citation Guides:

  • APA 7 (American Psychological Association) Style: 7th ed.
  • APA 6 (American Psychological Association) Style: 6th ed.
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) Style
  • Chicago Style


  • Last Updated Mar 29, 2022
  • Views 8
  • Answered By RDP Library

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