Writing A Book Title In Your Essay – The Right Way

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Table of contents

  • 1 APA Style: How to Write Book Titles in Essays
  • 2 APA Style Essay: Writing The Name of The Author
  • 3 MLA Style Essay: Citing a Book Title
  • 4 Chicago Style Essay: Writing the Book Title
  • 5 Writing Various Types of Titles
  • 6 Should We Underline or Italicize Book Titles?

When you are writing an academic essay , the book title and author’s name should be written in italics. However, if the book title is part of a larger work (such as a journal article), it should be underlined instead. So, you’re wondering how to write a book title in an essay?

Writing an essay with a book title can be tricky, particularly because each style guide has its own formatting rules for including titles in the main text. Whether you are using MLA, APA, Chicago, or Harvard referencing styles, you will need to consider how to properly format the book title. For more complicated literature-based assignments, seeking assistance from an admission essay writing service may be wise, as they specialize in writing essays that incorporate academic sources.

In this article, we will explore how to write both titles in an essay properly so that you avoid any mistakes!

APA Style: How to Write Book Titles in Essays

When writing an essay, you must follow the style guide provided by your professor. Some teachers may require you to use APA style and others MLA style. There are some rules on how to quote a book title in an essay. You should use italics and quotation marks when writing book titles in essays. For example: “ The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. “

When writing a book title in APA Style , you should be aware of these rules:

Write the book title in italics and place it after the author’s name, which is presented in reverse order (last name first).

Use quotation marks around the headline of a chapter or article.

Capitalize proper names that are not common nouns (names of people, places, organizations), but do not capitalize words such as “and,” “or,” “to,” or “and/or.”

Do not capitalize prepositions that appear at the beginning of titles if they are followed by an article (e.g., “A,” “An”), but do capitalize prepositions at the beginning of titles if they are not followed by articles (“Of”).

The first word of the headline should be capitalized, as well as any other words after a colon or hyphen. For example, “The Elements of Style: Grammar for Everyone”  or “Theories of Personality: Critical Perspectives.”

Capitalize proper names and words derived from them (e.g., the names of people, places, organizations), except proper nouns used generically (e.g., ‘a bed’).

APA Style Essay: Writing The Name of The Author

You should always use the full name and surname of the author in your APA essay because this will give proper credit to the writer. If you do not mention the author’s full name, people may not know who wrote what and will think you copied it from somewhere else. This will cause lots of problems for you and your reputation as well.

Make sure that all authors’ names appear in the same format in each entry. For example, if one person’s surname is Smith and another’s is Jones, both have first names starting with “J.” It may seem like they are being cited as different people when they’re actually written differently from each other on separate pages in your paper.

To write an APA essay without any issues, there are certain rules that you need to follow while writing an author’s name in APA essay:

  • Use only one author’s name in your paper unless there are multiple authors
  • If there are multiple authors, then use both their last names followed by the initials of their first names
  • Only use initials of first names when there are three or more authors; otherwise, use full names with their last names
Example: Johnson, M.C., Carlson, M., Smith, J. N., & Hanover, L. E.

MLA Style Essay: Citing a Book Title

Now let’s discuss how to mention a book in an essay. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition, published by the Modern Language Association (2014), contains detailed rules about how to cite a book title in an essay.

The following guidelines will instruct you on how to refer to a book in an essay in MLA style :

  • List your sources at the end of your paper, before the works cited page or bibliography.
  • Use italics for titles of books, magazines, and newspapers, but not for articles within those publications, which should be placed in quotation marks.
  • Include all relevant book information under two categories: “title” and “author.” In the former category, include the work’s title and its subtitle if there is one; do this even if neither appears on your title page (see below). In the latter category, include only primary authors who have written or edited an entire book; if there are multiple contributors, you should cite them separately under each.

The general format for citing the title of the book in an essay is as follows:

Author’s last name, first initial (Date). Title of Book with Subtitle if there is one. Publisher Name/Location of Publisher; Year Published

Chicago Style Essay: Writing the Book Title

One of the most important things to remember when writing in Chicago style is how to write the title of a book in an essay. To write a good book title in an essay, you should follow these steps:

  • Write it at the beginning of your sentence.
  • Capitalize it just like any other noun or proper noun.
  • Put a comma after the title unless it’s an introductory clause or phrase. For example: “The Firm,” by John Grisham (not “by”) and “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D Salinger (not “and”).
  • In addition to the book’s name, punctuation marks should also be italicized.
For example: Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince: Children’s Edition

Writing Various Types of Titles

Now that we covered how to write a book title and author in an essay, it’s time to look at some different types of titles. When you write a book title in an essay, several things must be considered. Whether it’s a book, series, chapter title, editor’s name, or author’s name, how you write it depends on where it appears in your paper.

Here are some key rules for writing headings for novels:

  •  Use capital letters to write the title of the novel. For example,  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett .
  • Use italics and capital letters to write the name of the author and his/her other works mentioned in a book title—for example,  Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) .

You should use quotation marks when writing headings of short title poems, articles, and stories.

However, before deciding which format to use, it is important to understand the main idea you want to express in your essay. Additionally, you could use essay papers for sale to help you accomplish your goal of writing an essay effectively.

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Should We Underline or Italicize Book Titles?

It depends on which style guide you use. The Modern Language Association and Chicago Manual of Style both suggest using italics, while the American Psychological Association suggests using quotation marks with a few exceptions.

The way you write the title of a book in an essay is different depending on the instructions you were given. For example, if you’re writing an essay in APA style, use quotation marks around the book’s name. If you’re writing for MLA or Chicago style , however, italicize the book’s name instead. If you’re writing a handwritten essay instead of using a computer, capitalize and underline the book’s name.

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How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

3-minute read

  • 26th May 2023

When writing an essay, you’re likely to mention other authors’ works, such as books, papers, and articles. Formatting the titles of these works usually involves using quotation marks or italics.

So how do you write a book title in an essay? Most style guides have a standard for this – be sure to check that first. If you’re unsure, though, check out our guide below.

Italics or Quotation Marks?

As a general rule, you should set titles of longer works in italics , and titles of shorter works go in quotation marks . Longer works include books, journals, TV shows, albums, plays, etc. Here’s an example of a book mention:

Shorter works include poems, articles, chapters of books, episodes of TV shows, songs, etc. If it’s a piece that’s part of a biggHow to Write Book Titles in Your Essayser work, the piece considered a short work:

Exceptions to the Rule

The rule for writing book titles in italics applies specifically to running text . If the book title is standing on its own, as in a heading, there’s no need to italicize it.

Additionally, if the book is part of a larger series and you’re mentioning both the title of the series and that of the individual book, you can consider the book a shorter work. You would set the title of the series in italics and place the book title in quotation marks:

Punctuation in Book Titles

Do you need to apply italics to the punctuation in a book title? The short answer is yes – but only if the punctuation is part of the title:

If the punctuation isn’t part of the title (i.e., the punctuation is part of the sentence containing the title), you shouldn’t include in the italics:

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Summary: Writing Book Titles in Essays

We hope you’ll now feel confident when you’re writing and formatting book titles in your essays. Generally, you should set the title in italics when it’s in running text. Remember, though, to check your style guide. While the standards we’ve covered are the most common, some style guides have different requirements.

And once you finish writing your paper, make sure you send it our way! We’ll make sure any titles are formatted correctly as well as checking your work for grammar, spelling, punctuation, referencing, and more. Submit a free sample to try our service today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write the title of a book in a sentence.

Set the title of the book in italics unless the book is part of a larger work (e.g., a book that’s part of a series):

When do you use quotation marks for titles?

Place titles of shorter works or pieces that are contained in a larger work in quotation marks:

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How To Write Book Titles The Proper Way: A Complete Guide For Writers

  • February 10, 2022

Book titles within essays or papers can be tricky. There are specific rules that are given for how to include a book title in a way that sets it apart from the content of your writing given by the Modern Language Association. However, as with many other things in life, there are exceptions to the rules. This article will guide you through the rules of the writing style guides so that you can include a book’s title in your paper or essay correctly.

How to write book titles:

Style guides and book titles.

When it comes to book titles within text, there are a few different style guides that have rules you can follow, depending on your writing type. The three types that you will encounter most often are; MLA style, Chicago manual of style, and APA. A writing instructor will usually tell you what style guide you are expected to use for a particular essay or paper.

MLA Style Guide

The MLA handbook states that you should always italicize book titles when styling book titles within your text. The exception to this rule are religious texts. You would not italicize the Holy Bible or the sacred books or titles of other religions. Note the following example.

Pam had stayed most of the summer indoors, re-reading her favorite book series. She was already up to  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone , and she didn’t regret not being more active or going outside.

In the above example, the book title is italicized. Fiction titles and nonfiction titles alike must be in italics when within the text.

Series Titles in MLA

In the above example, a book from a series was used. But what if the text had not specified which book from the series Pam was reading? Would it still need to be in italics? The answer is: in this case, yes. In other cases, sometimes.

It’s really not as confusing as it seems. When you are talking about a book series but don’t want or need to include the complete series titles for the purposes of your work, you only have to put words in italics that also appear in the book titles. So, because  Harry Potter  is part of the title of all of the books in the series, you would italicize his name every time you mention the book.

However, if you were talking about Katniss Everdeen, you would not have to do this, as the book series she is featured in doesn’t use her name in the titles of  The Hunger Games  series. The same would be true of books like the Nancy Drew books.

Quotation Marks

There are instances in which titles should be placed inside of quotation marks within a paper or essay. This is done when you cite the titles of poems , a chapter title, short stories, articles, or blogs.

How To Write Book Titles

So, for example, if you were to write a paper that featured a poem from a book, you would put the book title in italics and the poems cited in quotation marks.

An example of an enduring love poem is “Annabel Lee” from  The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. 

Chapter Title

Another time that quotation marks should be used is when using the title of a chapter. If you are citing a specific chapter of a book, you would enclose the title of the chapter in quotation marks, and the title of the book should be in italics.

The desperation and sadness of a man on death row can be seen in the “Wild Wind Blowing” chapter of Norman Mailer’s  The Executioner’s Song. 

Short Stories

Short stories are another case. Much like the title of a chapter or poem, in which the title is placed in quotation marks, while the title of the book or collection it is found in is italics. The same can be said for sections, stories, or chapters cited within a literary journal.

Stepping away from his norm of horror and gore, Stephen King writes of trust, love, and regret in his story “The Last Rung on the Ladder,” which can be found in his short story collection  Night Shift. 

Punctuation Marks

If you are citing a story or title that includes question marks, you need to make sure to italicize the question mark when citing. Keep all punctuation, such as a question mark, comma, ellipses, colon, or exclamation mark, as it is in the original individual books.

If you want a funny and irreverent read, you’ve got to try  Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.  Chelsea Handler has done a phenomenal job of being vulgar, relatable, and explaining life from her viewpoint in this hilarious and memorable book.

The Digital Age: Are Book Titles Underlined Anymore?

MLA style used to dictate that a book title should either be in italics or underlined. However, that is no longer the case. As computers started to take over as the major tool used in writing, it became unpopular to underline book titles. Therefore, this rule was dropped from the style guides.

However, it should be mentioned that when handwriting an essay or research paper, many instructors prefer that you underline book titles, as it’s relatively difficult to handwrite italics. If you are in a writing course or a class that is heavy on handwritten work, be sure to ask your instructor or teacher which method they prefer for citing a book title.

How To Write Book Titles

How to Come Up with Book Title Ideas

Now that quotation marks, italics, and style guides have been discussed, let’s move on to how you can come up with your own book title. If you’d like a title for your book that sounds interesting and will get a reader’s attention, you may find this article helpful.

Coming up with a good title for your book is a challenging yet essential marketing decision . The right title can make your target audience choose your new book off of the shelf instead of another writer’s work. Your book cover and your book title are quite possibly the most important marketing decisions you will make.

How to Choose a Good Book Title

Certain criteria should be met if you want to have a good book title , and there are specific steps involved in getting there. You may have assumed up until now that titles of books were just spur of the moment decisions made by authors or publishers, but a lot of work goes into writing good titles.

Grab the Reader’s Attention

As a general rule, you want your reader to remember your title and to sound interesting, even without the reader having seen the cover. There are several ways to do this. You can be a little dark with your title, be controversial, provoke the reader, or even be funny.

There are many examples of such works that use memorable and attention-seeking titles. The following are some different titles that are effective and would most likely provoke a reader to grab them from a shelf for closer inspection.

  • Burn After Writing (Sharon Jones)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Mindy Kaling)
  • Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (Chelsea Handler)
  • The Devil Wears Prada (Lauren Weisberger)
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul (various authors)
  • God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (Kurt Vonnegut)

Shorter Titles

If your full title for your book is long, you may end up boring a reader or creating a situation where a reader tries to remember the title of your book, but it’s too long and ends up getting it confused with another book. Although you should always do your best to make sure that there aren’t books by other authors that share a title or have a title similar to your book (more on that in a minute), you don’t want a person to get confused and get the wrong book instead.

Research Your Title Ideas

It’s a good idea to take the titles you have considered for your book and make a list. Then, do your homework. You can use tools like Google Adwords to test out your title to see if there are others like it, or you can simply use any search engine and plug your title ideas into the search bar and see what similar or exact titles of the same words pop up.

Readers are generally busy people. They don’t have the time or the energy to ensure that writers get a title right. They’ll look for the book they are interested in, and if it proves to be too difficult, or if there are other books written that have the same title, they’ll move on to something else.

A writer really has to make sure that they have a title that isn’t going to be ignored, is interesting, isn’t too long, and isn’t too similar to other works.

The same goes for titles of short works within a larger body of work. Short works, like poems or stories, need to have unique titles as well when included in a larger body of work, such as a collection. If stories are similar in nature, be sure to title them differently so that readers will be able to tell them apart, as well.

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How to Write a Book Title in an Essay (MLA, APA etc.)

Formatting your essay correctly ensures that you get full recognition for the hard work you put into it. Wondering what to do? There are two scenarios that lead you to the question of "how to write a book title in an essay":

  • You have not been required to use a particular style guide, in which case consistency remains important.
  • You have been instructed to use a particular style guide. You now simply need to ensure that you are familiar with its rules.

Regardless of which of these scenarios holds true for you, this guide is here to help.

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay

Many style manuals call on writers use title case and italics to format a book title. Title case rules vary slightly from one style guide to the next, but generally capitalize all important words — nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adverbs. Conjunctions and prepositions are not capitalized unless they are very long (generally more than four letters) or they appear at the beginning or end of a book title.

Writers who are not required to work with a specific style manual can't go wrong if they stick to this style. Some examples would be:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect us From Violence by Gavin de Becker
  • The Cat With a Feathery Tail and Other Stories by Enid Blyton

If, on the other hand, you're required to use a style guide, it will likely be one of these:

  • MLA, commonly used in disciplines relating to literature and social sciences.
  • APA, commonly used in psychology and other sciences.
  • Chicago, often used in the publishing industry.
  • Harvard style, commonly used in philosophy and social sciences.

These are certainly not the only "big players" in the style guide world, but they're ones it's good to be familiar with. There is overlap between these styles, but there are also major differences — so knowing one definitely does not mean you know the others, too.

Guidelines for Writing a Book Title in an Essay

Looking for a short and sharp answer, so you can get on with the rest of your essay? This is it.

This quick guide will help you reference the book title of your choosing in the body of your essay, but what about your Works Cited pages? Each style guide offers different rules, and we'll use the same book as an example to illustrate the differences.

  • MLA uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book . City of Publication, Publisher, Publication Year. Example: Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game. Tor Books, 1985. (You only have to detail the city of publication if the book was published before 1900, the publisher has offices in many localities, or the publisher is not known in the US.)
  • APA uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. (Year of Publication). Title of book. Example: Card, Orson Scott. (1985). Ender's game.
  • Chicago style uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. Book Title: Subtitle . Place of publication: Publisher, Year. Example: Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game . Tor Books, 1985.
  • Harvard uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Initial. (Publication Year). Title . ed. City: Publisher. Example: Card, O. (1985). Ender's Game. Tor Books.

If, after researching, you cannot find relevant information about publication years, publishers, or the city in which a book was published, you may omit it. For a full guide, it is always best to have a physical copy of the latest edition of the style manual you are using. You can, however, get by without this if you need to.

Should you still not know what to do, it will be helpful for you to know that you can "generate" citations for a particular style manual with the help of online tools like Cite Me . These are not always accurate, so if you decide to use one, always check the citation manually.

Why Is Proper Formatting Important?

All of the well-known style manuals ultimately serve the very same set of purposes, although they were each developed for a particular niche. The goals of these style manuals are both explicit and implicit:

  • Following a style guide ensures consistency throughout a document, in this case an essay.
  • Consistency ensures that reader's understand precisely what the writer is talking about, without exerting any effort on figuring that out. Clarity is especially important in academic writing.
  • By using a style guide within a certain discipline, you show that you understand the rules within that discipline. This adds credibility to your voice as a writer. You have done your homework, have ideally bought the style manual, and are part of the "in group".
  • Sticking to a certain style guide makes it easier for relevant parties to check your references, which they can then use to perform further research.

Students are increasingly asked to refer to style guides at all levels, including in high school. In this case, formatting your essay correctly, in accordance with the right style manual, serves two additional purposes:

  • You'll lose points if you don't do it right, offering you an additional reason to do your research.
  • Getting used to these formats prepares you for further education. If you are in high school, it prepares you for college-level writing. If you are an undergraduate student, it prepares you for academic work at the graduate and post-graduate levels.

Can you start an essay with a book title?

Yes, you can start an essay with a book title. This is a valid stylistic choice, but you will always want to consider your introduction carefully.

How do you write a book title in handwriting?

Students sometimes ask whether it is acceptable to underline book titles instead of italicizing them. This practice indeed stems from a time in which most students wrote their essays by hand. Although it has largely fallen out of practice now, you can still underline a book title if you are handwriting your essay.

How do you write a book title and chapter in an essay?

You should mention the chapter title first: "Rat" from Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Consult the relevant style manual to ensure you get the formatting right.

Can you shorten a book title in an essay?

Yes, you can. Reference the full title the first time you mention it (for example: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things ). The next time you mention the book, you may simply refer to Furiously Happy .

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How to Write a Book Name in an Essay

Last Updated: February 14, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Noah Taxis and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Noah Taxis is an English Teacher based in San Francisco, California. He has taught as a credentialed teacher for over four years: first at Mountain View High School as a 9th- and 11th-grade English Teacher, then at UISA (Ukiah Independent Study Academy) as a Middle School Independent Study Teacher. He is now a high school English teacher at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco. He received an MA in Secondary Education and Teaching from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. He also received an MA in Comparative and World Literature from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a BA in International Literary & Visual Studies and English from Tufts University. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 63,333 times.

When you’re writing an essay that includes a book title, it can be confusing to write the title correctly. However, it’s really easy once you know the rules. How you write the title will vary a little bit depending on the style your instructor assigns and if you are typing or handwriting the essay. Luckily, it's easy to follow the rules for writing a book name in an essay.

Writing Help

how do i write the title of a book in an essay

Typing an Essay in MLA or Chicago Style Format

Step 1 Capitalize the first letter of all nouns, verbs, and adjectives in the book name.

  • For example, you would write To Kill a Mockingbird , The Lord of the Rings , or Wuthering Heights .

Step 2 Avoid capitalizing articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions.

  • If you have the book name in front of you, you can just copy it down as it is printed.
  • Articles include a, an, and the.
  • Prepositions include at, in, on, of, about, since, from, for, until, during, over, above, under, underneath, below, beneath, near, by, next to, between, among, and opposite.
  • Coordinating conjunctions include the FANBOYS, which are for, and, not, but, or, yet, and

Step 3 Include punctuation in the italics if it’s part of the title.

  • For example, you would write the name of William Faulkner’s novel Absalom, Absalom! with both the comma and the exclamation point in italics.

Step 4 Highlight the book name.

  • If the highlight bar goes away, try again, making sure that you don’t click anywhere on the page after you highlight the book name.

Step 5 Click the italicize icon to format the title.

  • Alternatively, you can press the italicize icon before you type the title.
  • If you’re using Microsoft Word to type your essay, the italicize key may appear if you hover over the highlighted book name.

Step 6 Left click your mouse on another area of the document.

  • If the next word after your title appears italicized when you resume typing, simply highlight it and click the italicize icon to remove the formatting.

Step 7 Use quotation marks instead of italics if the book is part of an anthology.

  • For example, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is sometimes published in one volume. In this case, you could write the name of the first novel as "The Fellowship of the Ring" when citing it in an essay.

Typing an Essay in APA Format

Step 1 Capitalize the first word and all words longer than 4 letters.

  • Capitalize the first letter of the words, not the entire word.
  • If the word is a two-part hyphenated word in the title, you should capitalize both words. For example, you would write Blue River: The Trial of a Mayor-Elect .
  • If there is a dash or colon in the title, you should capitalize the word after the punctuation, regardless of how long the word is. As above, you would write Blue River: The Trial of a Mayor-Elect .

Step 2 Include any punctuation in the italics if it’s part of the book name.

  • For example, you would write Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? with the question mark italicized.

Step 3 Highlight the title.

  • If the book name is not highlighted, left click and drag your cursor again, making sure that you don’t click again anywhere on the page.

Step 4 Click the italicize icon to change the format of the title.

  • If you are using Microsoft Word, the italics icon may appear when you hover over the highlighted book title. It’s okay to click this key.

Step 5 Move your cursor off of the title.

Handwriting an Essay

Step 1 Capitalize the words according to the style format you are using.

  • For MLA and Chicago style essays, capitalize the first word of the book name and every word other than articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions. For example, write The Lord of the Rings .
  • If you’re using APA style, capitalize the first word and all words longer than 4 letters. [9] X Research source This means you would write Public Policy in Local Government .

Step 2 Underline the complete title.

  • If you’re writing on lined paper, it may help to follow along the line of the paper. However, make sure your line is dark enough so that your instructor will see that you properly underlined the book name.

Step 3 Underline punctuation if it’s part of the title.

  • For example, you would write Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by underlining the punctuation marks as well as the words.

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how do i write the title of a book in an essay

Thanks for reading our article! If you’d like to learn more about academic writing, check out our in-depth interview with Noah Taxis .

  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_general_format.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/writing_about_literature/formatting.html
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/underline-or-italicize-book-titles/
  • ↑ https://askus.library.wwu.edu/faq/116757
  • ↑ https://libguides.up.edu/apa/books_ebooks
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/italics-quotations/italics

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How to Write Book Titles in Essays: APA, MLA, Chicago Styles

It’s your practical and up-to-point guide on how to write a book title in an essay. You’ll get the formatting rules and examples for citing book and author names in academic papers.

We’ve covered the top three citation styles: APA, Chicago, and MLA.

How to Write the Title of a Book in an Essay

First, remember the general rules of citing book names in academic works.

Here’s how to cite books in essays :

  • Use capitalization. Every word of a book’s name goes in the title case, except prepositions, articles, and coordinating conjunctions.
  • Use italics for longer and independent works. Use double quotations for shorter ones (poems, articles, book chapters, or play acts and scenes).
  • Use single quotations for a book’s title within another title. (When citing monographs about literary works, for example.) 

While capitalization rules depend on the citation style, some general tips have a place to be. Please, no capitalization for:

  • Articles: a, the (unless the book title begins with it)
  • Coordinating conjunctions and prepositions: of, and, or, but, for, to, nor, in, so (unless the book title begins or ends with it)

Subordinating conjunctions (although, unless, because, if) go in capital letters.

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: APA

APA (American Psychological Association) is the most popular style for citing academic works. It’s common for the social sciences like Education, Psychology, Sociology, and others. The current edition: 7th (2019).

Book titles in APA stand for:

  • Italics. (If a book name includes any punctuation, italicize it too.)
  • Capitalization. (Capitalize all words longer than four letters , regardless of the part of speech. Also, use capital letters for two-part words and those coming after a dash or a colon.)
  • Double quotations instead of italics. (When citing a short work like an article or a poem; when citing a book chapter or when the book is a part of an anthology.)

For example: 

The Lord of the Rings but “The Fellowship of the Ring” (The latter is part of the trilogy.)

Related: How to Cite a Movie in APA Format

How to Write the Name of a Book in an Essay: Chicago

The Chicago Manual of Style is a guide by the University of Chicago. It’s common for fields like History, Fine Arts, and Business. The current edition: 17th (2017).

How to format book titles in Chicago:

  • Italicize longer and independent works; put shorter ones in double quotations.
  • Use italics for punctuation within a title.
  • Capitalize all words except articles (a, the) and ALL prepositions or conjunctions (regardless of length).

For example:

In George Orwell’s 1984 , the author presents a dystopian society characterized by pervasive government surveillance and the suppression of individual freedom. The harrowing events in “Chapter 2,” where Winston Smith begins to rebel against the Party by starting a forbidden diary, mark a pivotal moment in the novel’s exploration of resistance against totalitarianism.

The style resembles the MLA format, but it’s flexible, allowing you to “break the rules if necessary.”

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: MLA

MLA format stands for the Modern Language Association. It’s common for humanities like Literature, Culture, Linguistics, etc. The current edition: 8th (2016). 

How to format books in MLA:

  • Italicize all words, including punctuation and those of two parts or going after colons and hyphens.
  • Capitalize all words except articles (a, the) , prepositions, and short conjunctions within a book title.
  • Use double quotations instead of italics when writing a book chapter or a part of a book series.

In Little Women , Beth March dies in Chapter 40, “The Valley of the Shadow.”

Formatting Book Author Names in Papers

Use the author’s full name (first and last) to format it in your essay for proper credit.

If a book has two authors, use both last names and initials. For works with three or more authors, use the last name of the first one and add “et all.”

No need to italicize author names in papers.

Why Properly Cite Book Titles in Essays

The short answer:

You won’t get a high grade for an essay. Formatting blunders count as mistakes.

The longer answer:

  • You prove writing skills and an understanding of the rules in academia.
  • Your papers maintain consistency. It’s critical to stick to criteria to prevent confusion. The consistent format for book headings also serves to better scannability and readability.
  • You learn to cite different types of references for your future projects.

Do you italicize book titles?

Yes, you put book titles in italics. Please italicize long and stand-alone works: books, movies, webpages, reports, or music albums. Shorter works’ titles (articles, essays, poems, songs, or book chapters) come in quotations. (1)

Do you underline book titles?

Underlining book titles is an outdated practice. Some still use it in handwritten essays, but it’s not a must-follow rule. Neither APA nor MLA (or Chicago) mentions underlining book names in academic papers.

How to use book title capitalization in texts?

Capitalize every word in a book’s title. Exceptions are articles (a, the), prepositions, and short (three or fewer letters) conjunctions in mid-titles.

Are books italicized in all formatting styles?

Yes, book titles come in italics in all styles: APA, MLA, and Chicago. When citing book chapters or a book as a part of a series, use quotation marks instead.

How to write a book author in an essay?

Use the author’s full name when citing their book in your papers. For works with several authors, mention their last names and initials. Unlike book titles, author names come in standard formatting with no italics.

References:

  • https://english.csuci.edu/resources/essay-writing-essentials.htm
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How to Write a Book Title in an Essay in MLA & APA Styles

Learn how to properly cite book titles in your essays using MLA & APA styles. Discover guidelines for writing book titles in essays with ease.

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Last updated on Mar 14th, 2024

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay

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Table of Contents

In academic writing, attention to detail is paramount, especially when it comes to writing essays. An often overlooked aspect is how to properly incorporate book titles into text, a seemingly simple thing that can lead to confusion if the task is not done properly.

Whether you follow the Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Psychological Association (APA) approach, an understanding of how to write a book title and how a book’s title is structured is essential to the clarity and coherence of your writing. 

In this guide, we will explore the complexities of a book title for inclusion in an essay according to the MLA-APA method. By the end, you will have a clear understanding of the guidelines for each process along with practical writing tips for ensuring that your essays meet proper editorial standards.

So let’s embark on this journey to demystify the process of writing book titles in essays, and ensure that your academic writing shines with professionalism and accuracy.

Importance of Properly Formatting Book Titles in Essays

Properly organizing book titles into essays is a seemingly mundane part of academic writing, but its importance cannot be overstated. Every aspect, from enhancing readability to supporting scholarly integrity, emphasizes the central role of formalization in academic discourse.

By adhering to established formatting guidelines, whether MLA, APA, or other academic styles, authors ensure a clear and cohesive presentation of their work, allowing readers to focus on the content rather than being swallowed up by inconsistent policy 

Properly formatted book titles serve as signposts, guiding readers to the sources of information and ideas, thereby facilitating further exploration and engagement with the scholarly conversation.

By maintaining these standards, writers uphold the principles of academic honesty and integrity, protecting the credibility of their work and contributing to the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields.

From increasing readability and clarity to supporting and inclusive scholarly integrity, each piece emphasizes the critical role of coherent organization in academic discourse. Through organizational guidance that is established in compliance, writers not only demonstrate their attention to detail and commitment to professionalism.

General Rules When Writing a Book Title in an Essay

When incorporating a book title into an essay, whether you’re following MLA, APA, or another citation style, there are general rules to adhere to for clarity and consistency. Here are some overarching guidelines:

1. Italicization vs. Quotation Marks : Determine whether the citation style you’re using requires book titles to be italicized or enclosed in double quotation marks. In MLA style, for instance, book titles are italicized, while in APA style, they are enclosed in double quotation marks. Be sure to follow the specific requirements of your chosen citation style.

2. Punctuation : Regardless of the citation style, book titles should be punctuated properly. This means using appropriate punctuation marks such as commas, periods, question marks, or exclamation points within or after the title, depending on the context of your sentence.

3. Capitalization : Follow the capitalization rules prescribed by your citation style. Typically, capitalize the first word of the title, as well as any proper nouns or adjectives. However, lowercase all other words unless they are proper nouns or adjectives.

4. Consistency : Maintain consistency throughout your essay in how you format book titles. Whether italicized or enclosed in quotation marks, ensure that you apply the chosen formatting consistently each time you reference a book title within your text.

5. In-text Citation : Provide an in-text citation whenever you reference a book title within your essay. This citation typically includes the author’s last name and the publication year, enclosed in parentheses. Consult the guidelines of your citation style for specific formatting requirements for in-text citations.

6. Reference List or Works Cited : At the end of your essay, include a reference list (APA) or works cited page (MLA) that provides full bibliographic details for all sources cited in your essay, including book titles. Format the entry for each book title according to the guidelines of your chosen citation style.

7. Accuracy : Double-check the spelling and formatting of book titles to ensure accuracy. Incorrectly formatted titles or typographical writing errors can detract from the professionalism and credibility of your essay.

By following these general rules, you can effectively integrate book titles into your essay while maintaining clarity, consistency, and adherence to the conventions of your chosen citation style.

What Are MLA & APA Styles

Two well-known citation formats used in academic writing are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). Both styles provide guidelines for formatting various elements of a paper, including citations, references, and formatting of titles, such as book titles within essays.

In MLA style, book titles are generally italicized within the body of the essay. This means that when referring to a book title within the text, it should be italicized to distinguish it from the surrounding text. Additionally, MLA style typically requires authors’ names and page numbers to be included in in-text citations for direct quotations or paraphrased information.

On the other hand, APA style follows slightly different conventions for formatting book titles in essays. According to Wikipedia, APA style (also known as APA format) is a writing style and format for academic documents such as scholarly journal articles and books. In APA style, book titles are not italicized; instead, they are enclosed in quotation marks. Similarly to MLA style, APA requires authors’ names and publication years to be included in in-text citations for direct quotations or paraphrased information.

Understanding these differences is essential for properly formatting book titles in essays according to MLA and APA styles. While both styles aim to maintain consistency and clarity in academic writing, they have distinct rules regarding the formatting of book titles. 

Adhering to the specific guidelines of each style ensures that your writing meets the expectations of scholarly standards and effectively communicates your ideas to readers.

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay in MLA Style

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay in MLA Style

Writing a book title in an essay in MLA style requires attention to detail and adherence to specific guidelines to maintain consistency and accuracy. Whether you’re discussing a classic novel, a contemporary work of fiction, or a scholarly publication, correctly formatting the book title is essential for conveying your ideas effectively. Let’s explore the steps for properly formatting a book title in an essay according to MLA style:

1. Italicize the Title : One of the fundamental rules in MLA style is to italicize the title of the book when mentioned within the body of the essay. Italicization serves to differentiate the title from the surrounding text and emphasizes its importance to the reader. For instance:

– In “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee explores themes of racial injustice and moral growth.

2. Use Title Case : When writing the title of the book, capitalize the principal words, including nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions are generally not capitalized unless they are the first or last word in the title or part of a hyphenated word. Here’s an example:

– “The Catcher in the Rye” remains a classic coming-of-age novel.

3. Include Author’s Name : It is customary to include the author’s name when introducing the title of the book in your essay. This provides essential context for the reader and acknowledges the author’s contribution to the work. Typically, the author’s last name is sufficient, especially if it’s clear from the context which work is being referenced. For example:

– In “Beloved” by Morrison, the legacy of slavery haunts the characters’ lives.

4. Format In-Text Citations : When quoting directly from the book or paraphrasing its content, it’s crucial to include an in-text citation following MLA guidelines. The citation should include the author’s last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken. For instance:

– (Hemingway 22) or (Smith and Johnson 45)

5. Titles Within Titles : If the book you’re discussing contains a title within its title, such as a collection of essays or short stories, follow specific formatting rules. Italicize the title of the larger work and enclose the title of the smaller work in double quotation marks. Here’s an example:

– In “The Norton Anthology of English Literature,” the essay “Shakespeare’s Women” examines the portrayal of female characters in his plays.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can effectively integrate book titles into your essays under MLA style. Consistency and accuracy in formatting not only enhance the professionalism of your writing skills but also demonstrate your commitment to scholarly standards and integrity.

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay in APA Style

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay in APA Style

Writing a book title in an essay according to APA style necessitates adherence to specific formatting conventions to ensure clarity, consistency, and compliance with academic standards. Here’s a comprehensive guide detailing the steps involved:

1. Punctuation and Enclosure : Book titles must be enclosed within double quotation marks. This distinguishes them from other texts in the essay and signals to readers that they are referring to the title of a specific work. For instance, if you’re discussing the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” within your essay, it should be presented as “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

2. Capitalization : When formatting book titles in APA style, capitalize the first word of the title, as well as any proper nouns or adjectives. However, all other words in the title should be lowercase unless they are proper nouns or adjectives. For example, the book title “The Catcher in the Rye” follows this capitalization pattern.

3. Italicization vs. Quotation Marks : Unlike MLA style, which mandates italicization for book titles, APA style requires book titles to be enclosed in double quotation marks. This distinction is crucial for adhering to APA guidelines accurately.

4. In-text Citation : Whenever you reference a book title within your essay, it’s essential to provide an in-text citation to acknowledge the source. This citation typically includes the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses. 

For example, you might write, “In the novel ‘1984’ (Orwell, 1949)…”

5. Reference List Entry : After your essay, you must include a reference list that provides comprehensive bibliographic details for all sources cited in your work. When listing a book in the reference list, include the author’s last name followed by their first initial, the publication year in parentheses, the book title in italics (or within double quotation marks if it’s an article or chapter within a larger work), the publication location, and the publisher’s name. Here’s an example of a book reference list entry:

Orwell, G. (1949). 1984. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

By meticulously following these guidelines, you can effectively integrate book titles into your essay according to APA style, ensuring accuracy, professionalism, and adherence to academic conventions.

In conclusion, correctly formatting a book title within an essay is essential for maintaining consistency and adhering to the guidelines set forth by MLA and APA styles. Remember to italicize the title in both styles and to capitalize significant words according to the rules of each style guide. 

By following these simple guidelines, writers or authors can ensure their essays are properly formatted, enhancing the overall professionalism and credibility of their work. 

So, whether you’re citing a classic novel or a contemporary bestseller, mastering the art of writing book titles in MLA and APA styles will undoubtedly elevate the quality of your writing.

FAQs: How to Write a Book Title in an Essay in MLA & APA Styles

What’s the importance of correctly formatting book titles in essays.

Accurate formatting of book titles is crucial for academic integrity and professionalism in writing. It demonstrates your understanding of citation styles like MLA and APA and enhances the clarity and organization of your essay.

How do I format a book title in MLA style within an essay?

In MLA style, italicize the titles of books and use title case (capitalize the first letter of major words and any important words in the title). For example, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

What about formatting book titles in APA style?

In APA style, capitalize only the first word of the title, the first word of the subtitle (if any), and any proper nouns. Additionally, italicize the title. For example, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Are there any exceptions to the italicization rule for book titles?

Yes, if you’re writing by hand or using a typewriter where italics aren’t possible, underline the title instead.

How do I reference a book title in-text using MLA and APA styles?

In MLA style, place the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses after the quote or paraphrase. For example, (Fitzgerald 47). In APA style, include the author’s last name and the publication year, separated by a comma, within parentheses. For example, (Fitzgerald, 1925).

Do I need to include the author’s name in the essay when referring to the book title?

Yes, both MLA and APA styles require you to include the author’s name when referring to the book title in your essay. This helps provide context and credit to the original author.

What should I do if the book title contains a subtitle?

In both MLA and APA styles, include the subtitle after the main title, separated by a colon. Capitalize any proper nouns and the subtitle’s first word. For example, “The Great Gatsby: A Novel of the Jazz Age.”

Can I abbreviate book titles in my essay?

It’s generally recommended to use the full title of the book to ensure clarity and accuracy. Abbreviations might lead to confusion, especially in scholarly writing.

Where can I find more detailed guidelines for formatting book titles in MLA and APA styles?

You can refer to the official MLA Handbook or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for comprehensive guidelines on formatting book titles and other citation-related issues. Additionally, numerous online resources and style guides provide detailed explanations and examples.

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In academic writing, attention to detail is paramount, especially when it comes to writing essays. An often overlooked aspect is how to properly incorporate book titles into text, a seemingly simple thing that can lead to confusion if the task is not done properly. Whether you follow the Modern Language

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How to Write a Book Title in an Essay

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How to Write a Book Title in MLA Formatting

by Joe Bunting | 2 comments

You're writing a paper for school and suddenly you stop in the middle of the sentence. You have to write a book title, but you don't how to format it. How do you format a book title in MLA style? Good news: you're in the write place (sorry, I had to).

In this post, we'll talk about MLA style and formatting, whether it's appropriate for your project, and most importantly, how to write a book title in MLA style.

How to Write a Book Title in MLA Formatting

What Is MLA?

MLA stands for Modern Language Association, a society primarily based in the United States but with international standing, that has a mission to “strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature”. Founded in the late 1800s by an American novelist and professor, MLA publishes a set of resources used by students and teachers, including the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers .

The MLA handbook is one of the main style manuals for students and scholars in the world, especially for anyone studying literature, film, or theater.

Should You Format Based on MLA Style?

If you're writing a paper for a class in literature, theater, or film, absolutely use MLA style. Outside of that, it depends. Here are the most frequent style guides associated with various disciplines:

  • Literature, Film, Theater:   MLA
  • Psychology:   APA
  • Science (Physics, Biology, Chemistry): CSE or APA
  • Journalism:   AP
  • Mathematics:   AMA
  • Publishing:   Chicago

You can find a full list of international style guides here .

Now that you know if you should be using MLA style, how do you format a book title with it?

How to Format a Book Title in MLA Style: Example

In MLA style, book titles are italicized, as so:

Henry Thorough argues in Walden  that the best life is lived in deliberate simplicity so as to discover what life truly is about.

In fact, most style guides, including MLA and   Chicago style, require book titles to be italicized , not underlined.

If the book title has a subtitle, the subtitle should be italicized as well and separated by a colon to be formatted correctly for MLA style, as in:

Natural History of the Intellect: the last lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Should You Underline Book Titles in MLA Style?

If you are using MLA style, you should not underline book titles. Instead, italicize the titles.

However, AP style, the guide used by journalists, suggests putting titles in quotation marks, not italicization.

Still, I wouldn't recommend underlining a book's title. In fact, I couldn't find a single style guide that requires book titles to be underlined, but if you know of one that does, let me know in the comments!

Which style guide do you use most? MLA? Chicago? APA? AP? Or do you just write based on your own rules?!  Let me know in the comments .

Let's cement this formatting lesson in our minds by putting it to use right away with the following writing exercise .

What are your favorite books of all time? Write about what you love about them and why they are your favorites for fifteen minutes . Make sure to use the correct formatting for each title!

When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section . And if you post, please be sure to read a few practices by other writers and share your feedback with them.

Happy writing!

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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how do you format the title if you’re writing on paper and can’t italicize?

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When writing by hand, you can underline book titles.

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How to Write A BOOK Title In An Essay

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Writing a book title in an essay can be confusing. But it is necessary for the credibility and clarity of the write-up. Plus, each writing style has its own rules for formatting titles. Hence, doing such an activity could be a real pain for the students.

Don’t worry, as you are in the right place! Since this interesting article focuses on guiding you about how to write a book title in an essay accurately. So, read it thoroughly before you search for a professional  paper writing services  provider.

Table of Contents

Understanding Formatting Guidelines

The first step in learning how to write book name in essay is to learn the basics. It means you need to get comfortable with different formatting guidelines. Let’s begin with the style guides.

Different style guides

When writing essays for college , it’s important to know the rules for formatting book titles. The three most popular style guides are MLA, APA, and Chicago.

In  MLA format , you should usually italicize book titles. You can also put them in quotation marks when a type of work demands.

For example, a book title like “To Kill a Mockingbird” would be italicized:  To Kill a Mockingbird .

However, a chapter title within a book would be placed within quotation marks. For example, “The Ewell Family.”

In  APA style , the first word of book titles is capital.

For example, a book title like “The Catcher in the Rye” would be written as The catcher in the rye

Chicago Style

Chicago style demands a book title to be in italics or quotation marks. It is very similar to the MLA style. But Chicago style gives you a bit more leeway to use italics or quotation marks. It’s best to stay consistent with what you pick throughout your essay when using the Chicago style.

Consistency within the Essay

You must be consistent when including the title of a book in an essay. Figure out what style guide you must follow and ensure you stick with it. That means all the book titles you mention should look the same.

For example, if you choose to italicize book titles according to MLA style. Ensure that all book titles in your essay are italicized consistently. Avoid mixing italicization with quotation marks or using different formatting styles within the same essay.

Inconsistency in formatting can confuse readers and undermine the professionalism of your work. Paying attention to detail and maintaining consistency will contribute to your essay’s overall clarity and readability.

Determine the Appropriate Style Guide to Follow

To determine the appropriate style guide to follow for formatting book titles in your essay, consider the following:

Assignment Requirements

See if your teacher or the instructions for the assignment mention a certain style to go by. Stick to that, if they do, to ensure everything is consistent, and you meet the expectations.

Academic Discipline

Your field of study can affect which style guide you should use. For example, humanities and literature students usually use MLA style, while social sciences usually use APA style. It’s important to know what’s typical in your discipline to choose the right guide.

Formatting Book Titles in MLA Style

Humanities and liberal arts disciplines use MLA writing rules. In MLA style, book titles are usually in italics like in APA style. But there can be variations in capitalization and punctuation. Let’s explore each aspect in detail with examples:

In MLA style, book titles are put in italics to make them stand out from the rest of the text.

Titles of shorter works, such as articles or chapters, are enclosed in quotation marks.

Example 1: Italicized Book Title

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby .

Example 2: Book Chapter (In Quotation Marks)

Smith, John. “The Art of Persuasion.” Essays on Rhetoric.

Capitalization

In MLA style, follows the title case. It means keep the first letter of each word capital. Capitalize articles, conjunctions, and prepositions only if they are the first or last words in title.

Example 3: Correct Capitalization

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.

Punctuation

In MLA style, there should be no special punctuation like colons or periods between the main title and any subtitles. However, if the book’s title includes a subtitle, a colon should separate it from the main title.

Example 4: Book Title with Subtitle

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success.

Edition and Volume Numbers

To refer to a certain book edition, add the edition number after the book title. If the book is part of a multi-volume work, indicate the volume number after the title as well.

Example 5: Edition and Volume Numbers

Johnson, Mary. Chemistry in Focus. 2nd ed.

Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations. Vol. 1.

Translated Titles

If the book you are citing is translated from another language, include the original title and the translator’s name in the citation.

Example 6: Translated Title

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Translated by David Wyllie.

It’s important to remember that MLA style is always changing and being updated. So always refer to the latest edition of the MLA Handbook or your institution’s writing guidelines.

Formatting Book Titles in APA Style

Usually the social sciences disciplines use APA (American Psychological Association) style. Let’s look at how you must consider capitalization, punctuation and italics in this writing style.

Just capitalize the first word of any subtitles and proper nouns.

All other words, such as articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (in, on, at), are in lowercase.

Example 1: 

“The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”

In APA style, book titles are italicized to distinguish them from the rest of the text.

Do not italicize titles of shorter works, such as articles or chapters. Just enclose them in quotation marks.

Example 2: Italics

Here’s an example of an italicized book title:

The Catcher in the Rye

In APA style, there should be a colon (:) between the main title and any subtitle.

When citing a book title within the text of your paper, use title case and italicize it.

When including book titles in your reference list, use sentence case and italicize it.

Example 3: Punctuation

Here’s an example of proper punctuation and citation within the text and reference list:

In-text citation

According to Smith (2019),  The Theory of Everything  provides an in-depth analysis of astrophysics.

Reference list citation

Smith, J. (2019).  the theory of everything . Publisher.

Include the edition number in parentheses right after the book title when a book has a specific edition.

If a book is part of a multi-volume work, you can also indicate the volume number after the title.

Example 4: Parenthesis

Here are examples of how to format book titles with edition and volume numbers:

Edition Number

Johnson, M. (2022). Chemistry in Focus (2nd ed.).

Volume Number

Smith, A. (2021). History of the United States (Vol. 3).

Include the translator’s name in square brackets if you cite a translated book. 

Example 5: Translated Thesis 

Here’s an example of how to format a translated book title:

Kundera, M. (1984). The Unbearable Lightness of Being [Original title: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí].

Translated by M. Henry.

Formatting Book Titles in Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style is mostly used in the humanities and social sciences disciplines. Chicago style follows two systems, namely Author-Date System and the notes and bibliography system. Let’s explore both of them.

Author-Date System

In the author-date system, you include:

  • In-text citations with the author’s last name
  • The publication year
  • A corresponding entry in the reference list

Italicization

In the author-date system, book titles are italicized. It makes them Distinguish from other elements in the citation.

Chicago style uses a title case for book titles in the author-date system. It means the first letter of the title, subtitles, and any major words are capitalized.

There should be a period at the end of the full book citation in the reference list.

Example 1: In-Text Citation

Example 2: Reference List Citation

Smith, John. 2019.  The Theory of Everything . Publisher.

Notes and Bibliography System

You use footnotes or endnotes in the notes and bibliography system for in-text citations and a bibliography for the full list of references.

Similar to the author-date system, book titles are italicized in the notes and bibliography system.

In the notes and bibliography system, the Chicago style uses headline-style capitalization for book titles. It means that the first letter of the first and last words of the title are capitalized.

Put a period at the end of each full bibliographic entry in the notes and bibliography system.

Example 3: Footnote/Endnote Citation

John Smith,  The Theory of Everything  (Publisher, 2019), 25.

Example 4: Bibliography Citation

Smith, John.  The Theory of Everything . Publisher, 2019.

You may include the edition number after the title, and for multi-volume works, the volume number after the title.

Example 5: Edition Number

Johnson, Mary.  Chemistry in Focus . 2nd ed.

Example 6: Volume Number

Smith, Adam.  The Wealth of Nations . Vol. 1.

For translated works, include the original title and the translator’s name in the citation.

Example 7: Translated Title

Kafka, Franz.  The Metamorphosis . Translated by David Wyllie.

Citation of Book Titles in Other Situations

Let’s highlight some unusual circumstances of including a title of book in essay. Starting with:

Book titles within quotations

If you’re citing a direct quote from a book in your essay, you may need to put the book title in quotes. Generally, you should use double quotation marks for this.

For example:

According to Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

In the novel 1984, George Orwell explores the theme of government surveillance through the famous line, “Big Brother is watching you.”

By using double quotation marks, you indicate that the words within the quotation marks are taken directly from the book.

Book Titles in Footnotes or Endnotes

In academic writing, footnotes or endnotes can be added to give extra info or credits. When including book titles, how you format them depends on the citation style you’re using.

In Chicago Style, book titles in footnotes or endnotes should usually be italicized or in quotation marks.

For Example:

Jane Austen,  Pride and Prejudice  (New York: Penguin Classics, 2002), 45.

Harper Lee,  To Kill a Mockingbird , (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006), 77.

Handling Foreign language book titles

Follow these rules for citing a book in a foreign language. You should keep the original language title, especially if it’s a popular work.

Italicize the foreign language book title following the same guidelines as you would for an English book title. Include a translation in parentheses if necessary.

Use the original foreign language title in sentence case without italics or quotation marks. Include a translation in brackets if needed.

Italicize or use quotation marks for foreign language book titles, following the same guidelines as you would for an English book title. Include a translation if required.

Special Cases

In certain situations, you might need to format book titles differently. Like if you’re talking about a poem or play. These types of works have their own rules for formatting titles. Let’s get to know them briefly. 

Typically, you’d put poem titles in quotation marks and longer pieces of poetry, like epics, in italics. It’s worth checking the style guide you’re using, though, since the rules can vary.

You’ll usually see the title written in italics when it comes to plays. The names of characters or speakers within the play are usually written with a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, without quotation marks.

Best Practices for Including Book Titles in Essays

Double-check formatting guidelines.

It’s super important to double-check the formatting rules for book titles when writing an essay since each style guide has its own rules. You need to make sure you’re following them properly.

Proofreading for Accuracy and Consistency

Look out for mistakes in how you’ve done the capitals, italics, and quotes. Double-check any extra rules that might apply to foreign language books, poems, plays, and other special cases.

Seek Assistance from Style Guides or Writing Resources

It’s a good idea to get help from style guides or writing tools when you are stuck with citations. You can also buy cheap essay from a well-reputed writing services provider.

It’s super important to get book titles in essays right. Not just for clarity but also to show you’re a pro. Ensure that you stick to the accurate style guide. It could be MLA, APA, or Chicago. Plus, there are special rules for poems and more.

Furthermore, if you need a professional to help you out with citations, do count on the expertise of  our writers . They are always available to get you out of your troubles of how to write book titles in essays.

Do I need to include book titles in my essay?

How do i format book titles in mla style, should i italicize or use quotation marks for book titles in apa style.

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Title of Source. The title is usually taken from an authoritative location in the source such as the title page. It is the name of the source you are using. Capitalize the following parts of speech in a title: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions (although, because, unless, after, until, when, where, while, etc.). Do not capitalize articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, the "to" in infinitives if they appear in the middle of the title. A colon separates the title from the subtitle unless it ends in a question mark or exclamation. Titles should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Titles that are independent and self-contained (e.g., books) and titles of containers (e.g., anthologies) should be italicized. Titles that are contained in larger works (e.g., short stories) should be in quotation s. Exceptions to the above rule are: 1) Scripture (Genesis, Bible, Gospels, Upanishads, Old Testament, Talmud, etc.) Titles of individualized scripture writings, however, should be italicized and treated like any other published work.(e.g. The Interlinear Bible) 2) Names of laws, acts and political documents (Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Treaty of Marseilles, etc.) 3) Musical compositions identified by form, number, and key (Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A, op. 92) 4) Series titles (Critical American Studies, Bollingen Series, etc.) 5) Conferences, seminars, workshops, and courses (MLA Annual Convention, English 110)

The title of the work follows the author and ends with a period . Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind . New York: Macmillan, 1961.

A sub-title is included after the main title . Joyce, Michael. Othermindedness: The Emergence of Network Culture. U of Michigan P, 2000. Baron, Sabrina Alcorn et al., editors. Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of               Massachusetts P /Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007.

The title of a story, poem or essay in a collection, as part of a larger whole, is placed in quotation marks . Dewar, James A., and Peng Hwa Ang. "The Cultural Consequences of Printing and the Internet." Agent of Change: Print             Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of Massachusetts P /Center for the Book, Library of Congress,             2007, pp. 365-77. 

Independent work in a collection When a work that is normally independent (such as a novel or play) appears in a collection, the work's title remains in italics. Euripides. The Trojan Women . Ten Plays, translated by Paul Roche, New American Library, 1998, pp. 457-512.

The title of a periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) is in italics and the title of the article is in quotation marks. Goldman, Anne. "Questions of Transport: Reading Primo Levi Reading Dante." The Georgia Review, vol. 64, no. 1, 2010           pp. 69-88. Note: This rule applies to all media forms such as the title of a television series, an episode in a television series, a song or piece of music in an album, a posting or article on a web page. See examples below. Television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer . Created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003. Episode in a television series "Hush." Buffy the Vampire Slayer , created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah           Michelle Gellar, season 4, episode 10, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003. Web site Hollmichel, Stefanie. So Many Books . 2003-13, somanybooksbkog.com Note: When giving a URL, omit http and https. Posting of an article on a web site Hollmichel, Stefanie. "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print."           So Many Books, 25 April 2013, somanybooksblog.com/2013/04/25/the-reading-brain-differences-between-digital-           and-print/. A song or piece of music in an album Beyonce. "Pretty Hurts." Beyonce , Parkwood Entertainment, 2013,           www.beyonce.com/album/beyonce/?media_view=songs.

Untitled Source In the place of the title, provide a generic description of the source without italics or quotation marks. Capitalize the first word in the title and any proper nouns in it. Mackintosh, Charles Rennie. Chair of Stained Oak. 1897-1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Comment or review of a title in an online forum Jeane. Comment on "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print." So Many Books, 25 Apr. 2013,            10:30 p.m., somanybooksblog.com/2013/04/25/the-reading-brain-differences-between-digital-and-            print/#comment-83030

Review of a title in an online forum Mackin, Joseph. Review of The Pleasures of Reading of an age of Distraction , by Alan Jacobs. New York Journal of Books, 2 June 2011, www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/            pleasures-reading-age-distraction.

Tweet Reproduce the full text without changing anything and enclose within quotation marks. @persiankiwi."We have report of large street battles in east and west of Tehran now. - #Iranelection." Twitter ,            23 June 2009, 11:15 a.m., twitter.com/persianwiki/status/2298106072.

E-mail message Use subject as the title. Subject is enclosed in quotation marks. Boyle, Anthony T. "Re: Utopia." Received by Daniel J. Cayhill, 21 June 1997.

Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword Capitalize the term in the works cited list but do not italicize or enclose in quotation marks. The term need not be capitalized in in-text discussion. Felstiner, John. Preface. Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan , by Paul Celan, translated by Felstiner              W.W. Norton, 2001, pp.xix-xxxvi.

Translations of Titles Place translations of titles for foreign works in square brackets in the works cited list. The translation appears next to the title.

Shortened titles The first time a title is mentioned in your work, it should appear in full. If the title is repeated in the work, it can be shortened to a familiar one (e.g., Skylark for Ode to a Skylark).

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how do i write the title of a book in an essay

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  • Specific Rules for Authors & Titles

APA Style - 7th edition: Specific Rules for Authors & Titles

  • Basic Information

Rules for Writing Author and Editor Information

Rules for writing titles.

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There are certain things to keep in mind when writing the author's name according to APA style. Authors may be individual people, multiple people, groups (institutions or organizations), or a combination of people and groups. 

  • You must include all the authors up to 20 for individual items. For example, if you are using an article that has 19 authors you must list them all out on your reference page. 
  • Use initials for the first and middle names of authors. Use one space between initials.
  • All names are inverted (last name, first initial).
  • Do not hyphenate a name unless it is hyphenated on the item.
  • Separate the author's names with a comma and use the ampersand symbol "&"  before the last author listed.
  • Spell out the name of any organization that is listed as an author.
  • If there is no author listed, the item title moves in front of the publication date and is used.

An item that you use may have an editor instead of an author or in the case of audiovisual materials a writer or director.

  • For editors follow the same rules above and put the abbreviation (Ed.) or (Eds.) behind the name(s). 
  • For audiovisual materials follow the same rules as above and put the specialized role (Writer) (Director) behind the name. 

Zhang, Y. H.  (one author)

Arnec, A., & Lavbic, D. (two authors)​

Kent State University (organization as author)

Barr, M. J. (Ed.). (1 editor)

Powell, R. R., & Westbrook, L. (Eds.). (2 editors)

here are certain things to keep in mind when writing a title according to APA style.

  • Book titles are italicized and written using sentence case (only the first word of a title, subtitle, or proper noun are capitalized).
  • Book chapter titles are written using sentence case and are not italicized.
  • Journal titles are italicized and written using title case (all the important words are capitalized).
  • Article titles are written using sentence case and are not italicized.
  • Webpages and websites are italicized and written using sentence case.

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (book title, American Psychological Association is a proper noun so it is capitalized)

Student perspective of plagiarism (book chapter title)

Internet plagiarism in higher education: Tendencies, trigging factors and reasons among teacher candidates (article title, Tendencies is the first word of a sub-title so it is capitalized)

Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education (journal title)

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How to Write a Book Title and Author in an Essay?

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So, you’re writing an essay, and you’re referencing a book. But how on earth do you write and cite the title and the author’s name correctly?

Do you use quotation marks? Italics? Punctuation? And what about capitalization?

The answer is a little more complicated than you might think. It all depends on the style of essay you’re writing, but once you’ve familiarized yourself with the rules for each one, it’s easy to mention and cite any book title and author’s name correctly, so you can get top marks from your instructor, each and every time.

Table of Contents

The Correct Way to Write a Book’s Title And Author in an Essay

In this post, we’ll look at the three most common essay formats used in the US and learn how to properly display book titles and author names in each one.

The Most Popular Essay Formats

The three most commonly used essay formats found in schools, universities, and higher education institutions across America are known as APA, MLA, and Chicago style.

The format your professor assigns will depend on the subject matter, the department, the purpose of the essay, and the instructor’s individual preferences.

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. This is the go-to format for scientific essays, including many social and behavioural sciences.

MLA stands for Modern Language Association and is the most frequently used format in humanities and liberal arts subjects, such as literature and history.

Chicago format, also known as Turabian after its creator, Kate L. Turabian, is commonly used in the publishing world and also in subjects such as anthropology, history, and selected social sciences.

Why is Using The Correct Format so Important?

The short answer is that you’ll receive a lower grade if you don’t.

But of course, there are many good reasons why proper formatting is important when writing papers and essays.

1. Consistency

Formats like APA, MLA, and Chicago provide a strict set of criteria to stick to throughout an essay, ensuring consistency.

Consistency avoids confusion for the reader and helps them to quickly and easily identify what the writer is trying to say.

2. References And Research

Sticking with one style or format makes it easier for readers to check citations and conduct further research into the chosen topic.

3. Demonstrating Understanding

In academic settings, adhering to a particular style guide, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, demonstrates your understanding of the rules and principles of written material within that field.

This shows that you don’t just understand the subject; you also know how to write about it.

4. Preparation For Future Studies

Suppose you’re a high school student or a college undergrad, familiarizing yourself with the basic principles of essay formatting. In that case, it is a great way to prepare yourself for your future academic pursuits, especially if you plan to progress onto a graduate or postgraduate program.

How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of an APA Style Essay?

Here are the key rules to remember when writing book titles in the main body of an APA-style essay:

  • Use quotation marks (not italics) on either side of the book’s title (with the exception of the holy texts like the Bible and reference works like dictionaries and almanacs).
  • The first word of the title should be capitalized.
  • All words and terms containing more than four letters or symbols should be capitalized.
  • Any two-part words containing a hyphen should be capitalized.
  • Words placed directly after a colon or dash should also be capitalized.

For example, “Slaughterhouse-Five”

How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of an MLA or Chicago Style Essay?

MLA and Chicago-style essays use similar rules when it comes to mentioning book titles in the main body of an essay. Here are the key things to remember when using either of these formats:

  • The book’s title should be displayed in italics (not quotation marks), with the exception of holy texts like the Bible.
  • If the title contains punctuation, this should be italicized, too.
  • All verbs, nouns, and adjectives should be capitalized.
  • If you’re referring to a chapter or mentioning a book alongside the series it belongs to, use quotation marks, not italics.

For example,

O ne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, or “A Clash of Kings” from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

1. Avoid Capitalizing Minor Words

Unless they appear as the first word in a title, the following words should be displayed in lowercase.

  • Prepositions , such as on, in, at, and from.
  • Articles , such as the, a, and an.
  • Coordinating conjunctions , such as so, and, yet, but, and for.

This might sound a little complex at first, but it’s pretty simple and intuitive once you get the hang of it.

99% of the time, the book’s title as it is displayed on the front cover is correct for both MLA and Chicago-style essays.

How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of a Handwritten Essay?

Handwritten essays used to be the norm, but these days, they’re most definitely the exception.

Still, there may be some instances where you’re asked to handwrite an essay rather than type it, in which case, you should follow the rules below.

1. Capitalization

The capitalization rules for writing book titles in the main body of a handwritten essay are the same as with typed essays.

So, if you’re handwriting an APA-style essay, make sure to capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title and do the same for every word containing more than four letters.

And when handwriting an MLA or Chicago-style essay, capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title and do the same for every word except for articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions.

2. Underlining

No matter the format, book titles should always be underlined when handwriting an essay

  • Underline the complete title, including any words that come after a colon or dash
  • Underline any punctuation that appears in the book’s title
  • Avoid underlining each word separately; always use one continuous line
  • Make your line as straight as possible by using a ruler or following the line on the paper

How to Cite a Book And its Author in a References or Works Cited Page?

So, now you know how to write the title of a book mentioned in the body of an essay.

But what do you do when you need to cite a book and its author in your references or works cited page?

To keep it simple, I’ll use Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 classic children’s novel , Anne of Green Gables, as an example for each essay style.

1. Book Citations in APA Style

Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in APA:

Last Name, First Names. (Year the book was published). Book title .

For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. (1908). Anne of Green Gables.

2. Book Citations in MLA Style

Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in MLA:

Last Name, First Names. Book title . City of Publication, Publisher, Year the book was published.

Note: You only need to include the city of publication if the book was published before 1900 or if the publisher is not based in the US.

For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables. L.C. Page & Co., 1908.

3. Book Citations in Chicago Style

Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in Chicago style:

Last Name, First Names. Book Title: Subtitle . City of publication: Publisher, Year the book was published.

Note: Just like with MLA style, you only need to include the city of publication if the book was published before 1900 or if the publisher is not based in the US.

For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables . L.C. Page & Co., 1908.

4. Book Citations in a Hand Written Essay

If you’re handwriting an essay, you’ll no doubt be handwriting your references or works cited page, too.

In this case, you should still follow the appropriate formatting rules above in relation to the chosen essay style.

But where a title appears in italics in a printed essay, in a handwritten essay, it should be neatly underlined instead.

Missing Information

If you’ve searched high and low for a book’s publisher, publication date, or the city in which it was published, but you still can’t find the information, it’s generally acceptable to leave it out.

Essay writing is a skill that takes practice, and at first, the rules and principles of the different formats can seem complex. This is especially true when you’re writing about books and their authors or citing other people’s work.

But hopefully, this post has helped explain the structures used in each of the most commonly used formats so that next time you write an essay, you can be confident that you’re doing it right.

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How to Write a Book Title Correctly: A Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

How to write a book title correctly

Few things should scare you more than a botched title. It’s true not only for books but also for any piece of writing you may produce—including blog posts and thought leadership articles. 

Let’s be honest: we all would like to think that people don’t judge a book by its cover, but that simply isn’t the case. People do judge a book by its cover, and they certainly judge a book by its title. Readers are unforgiving. You absolutely cannot afford a botched title.

In most cases, a botched title means your piece of writing won’t be read. And if your piece of writing happens to be a book, you’ve wasted a lot of time, effort, and probably money. In this post, we’ll break down how to write a book title correctly.

There are 7 steps to writing a book title correctly:

  • Understand the Structure of a Book Title
  • Be Able to State the Unity of Your Book
  • Define the Appropriate Tone and Style for the Title
  • Choose the Most Compelling Image Possible 
  • Select Strong, Visual Words That Invite Readers
  • Test Out Your Book Title With Your Target Market
  • Tweak Your Book Title and Make a Final Decision

Follow these steps in order and you are almost guaranteed never to regret your book title choice!

1. Understand the Structure of a Book Title

Nonfiction book titles follow a standard structure: a title, generally 5 words or less, and a subtitle, generally 3 to 7 words. These are simply a rule of thumb; book titles and subtitles can be longer or shorter.

  • Title : 5 words more or less 
  • Subtitle : 3 to 7 words

The title and subtitle vary in length because they serve different purposes. While the goal of the title is to grab the reader’s attention while indicating what the book is about, the subtitle’s role is to provide more information about what the book promises to offer. 

  • Title : hook 
  • Subtitle : explanation   

Book Title Structure Graphic

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  • Girl, Stop Apologizing
  • 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos
  • The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great
  • Can’t Hurt Me
  • Girl, Wash Your Face
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Kushner, Inc.
  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • Dare to Lead
  • Never Split the Difference: Negotiation as if Your Life Depended on It
  • Mindfulness in Plain English
  • Leadership Wisdom From the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari 
  • Unfu*k Yourself
  • Becoming Supernatural
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

2. Be Able to State the Unity of Your Book

To find a good title and subtitle, you must be able to state the unity of your book. This expression comes from Mortimer J. Adler’s book How to Read a Book . While Adler applies this idea to reading other people’s books, it is just as true for your own book.

To state the unity of your book is to state the book’s content in one sentence. In Trivium Writing’s Architecture of Writing methodology , we call this the thesis. Informed by your writing goal and purpose, the thesis is the main point to take away from the book.

One of the reasons people struggle to write their book titles correctly is that they don’t have their books in order. In other words, their book is disorganized and lacks a coherent message and structure. That’s why Trivium Writing offers book coaching services.  

3. Define the Appropriate Tone and Style for the Title

Each word and phrase conveys a different tone, so if you want to control your readers’ perception when they see your book, you must be deliberate. Before you spend time choosing the words for your book title, decide which tone you wish to convey.

Here are some tone examples :

  • Analytical 

Here are the three possible styles :

By being deliberate with your tone and style, you’ll be able to attract your audience. For example, you should use a negative tone to appeal to a discontent audience, while you should an optimistic tone to appeal to a hopeful one.

While some audiences prefer an informal style, others prefer a formal one. For example, take two books on the same topic. 

Tone and Style Graphic

The title of Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel, a Harvard professor, is informal in style as it contains a contraction and a direct question. The audience for the book is the general public interested in an introduction to justice. 

The Authority of the Court and the Perils of Politics by Stephen Breyer, a then-sitting U.S. supreme court justice, is written in the formal style as it contains the formal word “authority” and no informal element.

Notice the different tones of the two books. Sandel’s book inspires intrigue and curiosity, while Beye’s book inspires urgency and negativity. While the former is open-ended and interrogative, the latter is declarative and closed. Make sure you choose wisely.

4. Choose the Most Compelling Image Possible

You ideally want to create an image in your reader’s mind with your book title. Visual book titles are often the best and the most unforgettable. They also force you to conceptualize your message in a more compelling way.

If you are going to use a visual title, the image should align with your book’s content by being present in your book. In this sense, it may be best to find your book title before writing. If your book is already written, you may find an existing image in your book. 

So, how do you go about creating this image for your book title? Assuming you haven’t started writing your book already or that you’re going to make changes later, you should start by looking at the categories that divide the world.

Here are 8 categories:

  • Nature : trees, flowers, clouds, ocean, etc.
  • People : men, women, children, etc.
  • Animals : foxes, wolves, eagles, etc.
  • Abstractions : truth, perils, authority, etc.
  • Domains : architecture, psychology, art, science 
  • Roles : mother, father, king, queen 
  • Objects : couch, book, car
  • Shapes : circle, square, star

Each of these categories contains words with different tones and styles. But the categories in and of themselves have their own tone. Think of what that tone is when you choose a category or a word. You can feel that tone yourself and ask for feedback.

Graphic showing 8 domains to select a compelling image

For example, using an image of nature is more grounded than using an abstract concept such as truth or a domain. Meanwhile, using an objective will make your image heavier using a shape will make it simpler.

5. Select Strong, Visual Words That Invite Readers

Now that you have laid out the foundations for your title, it’s time to choose the actual words you will be using. In that regard, it is essential to remember the different words available to us, which are also known as parts of speech. 

  • Determiners : the, a, an, etc.
  • Nouns : tree, man, foxes, etc.
  • Adjectives : brilliant, beautiful, etc.
  • Verbs : sprint, run, build, etc.
  • Adverbs : quickly, violently, slowly, etc.
  • Prepositions : of, off, on, in, etc.
  • Conjunctions : for, and, but, or nor, yet, since
  • Interjections : oh, hey, etc.

While you have a number of parts of speech available to you, not all of them are created equal. In other words, some are more important than others, and while you may use many of them, you probably won’t use them all.

The most important parts of speech are nouns and verbs because they are the main content words—the types of words that create images. While nouns show a person, an object, or a concept, verbs show actions. Both can underlie your book title.

Strong, Visual Words Graphic

While choosing between nouns and verbs is partly a stylistic choice, that decision should be informed by the book’s content. Verbs are more active than nouns, so in many cases, they may imply that the book is more practical.

For example, Building a Business in 7 Easy Steps uses a verb and suggests a very practical book. Business Creation 101 , which uses a noun, does not sound as practical, though it may well be. Meanwhile, The Making of an Enduring Business , by using a different verb and an adjective, sounds more elegant than the first two titles. 

6. Test Out Your Book Title With Your Target Market

Once you have a tentative title for your book—and you can have many—you should test it out with your target market. Find people who fit your reader avatar and who are interested in providing you feedback on your early work. Ask them what they think.

As an aside, you should always have beta readers who can provide you with feedback throughout the book writing and publishing process. Make sure you ask them unbiased questions so they can give you valuable, accurate information.

Group of people discussing at an event

The best way to ask your target market about a book title is to present it to them and ask what they think. Don’t ask any specific questions yet; simply ask your readers what they think. This will help you collect unbiased information about how they feel.

Once you have their initial reaction, ask them which emotions the title evokes. While still general, this question is a bit more guided. Then you may move to more specific questions that give you precisely what you want, such as:

  • Does this title make you want to read the book?
  • Is this a title you would feel good reading in public?
  • Does the title tell you what you’ll get from the book?

7. Tweak Your Book Title and Make a Final Decision

Target market feedback is subjective, and every person will have different opinions. While you shouldn’t let it dictate everything, it’s essential to take this feedback seriously. As a rule of thumb, if more than three people raise a point, pay attention to it.

You shouldn’t necessarily change your title to please your target readers, but in many cases, your readers will lead you in the right direction. For example, if three or more readers indicated that the title is unclear, it’s safe to say your title needs some work.

Smiling man working on his computer

It is always good practice to have a few backup titles in case your original title doesn’t resonate with your audience. You can also make tweaks to your title; for example, you can change the emotion and the image in the title as well as the explanation in the subtitle.

After making tweaks to your title, run it by your target market once again to see what they think. You may want to repeat this process several times if you can’t find a title that works, is compelling, and resonates with your audience. Your book title matters after all.

If you still feel confused after reading this blog and don’t know where to start with your book title, consider our consulting services. For a small fee, we can help you brainstorm title ideas and help you select the best one for your audience and book.

Click below to book a call.

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Article by Leandre Larouche

Leandre Larouche is a writer, coach, and the founder of Trivium Writing.

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Table of Contents

Why Do Book Titles Matter?

The 5 attributes of a good book title.

  • Steps To Find The Perfect Book Title

Does Your Book Need A Subtitle?

More Ways to Read

  • Download a PDF
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How To Come Up With The Perfect Book Title [Ultimate Guide]

how do i write the title of a book in an essay

Don’t Have Time Right Now?

Shockingly, there’s little useful guidance out there about book titling. What advice exists is usually of little help:

  • Trite (“Go with your gut!”)
  • Superficial (“Browse bookstores for ideas!”)
  • Or worst of all, actively harmful (“Don’t spend too much time on it.”)

They’re all wrong.

Just like companies that spend millions on naming new products, and media companies that spend time testing different titles for blog posts , you should spend substantial time and energy finding a great title.

This is a very important decision, one you need to get right to ensure your book has the best possible chance of success.

In this comprehensive guide to picking the perfect book title, I will walk you through how to think about book titles, then tell you how to pick yours, and how to test it.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this Scribe Guide:

  • Attention Grabbing
  • Informative (Gives an Idea of What The Book is About)
  • Easy To Say
  • Not Embarrassing or Problematic For Someone To Say It

Specific Steps To Find The Perfect Book Title

Step 1: Get Clarity On Your Book Goals

Step 2: brainstorm several potential titles.

Step 3: Make Sure This Title Is Not Already Popular

Step 4: Pick Your Favorites & Test Them

Test #1: Imagine People Saying The Title

Test #2: See What People Click On

Your book title is the most important marketing decision you’ll make. Period.

The title is the first thing the potential reader sees or hears about your book—even before the cover in most cases—and getting it right is the single most important book marketing decision you’ll make. The title forms the basis of the reader’s judgment about your book.

Let’s be clear: A good title won’t make your book do well. But a bad title will almost certainly prevent it from doing well.

The iconic example of the importance of a book title is the title change that led to an obscure book becoming a #1 best seller.

In 1982 Naura Hayden released a book called “Astro-Logical Love.” It bombed.

astrological-love-book-cover

She then took the exact same book, changed a small amount of the content, and changed the original title to a different title, “How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time…and Have Her Beg for More!”

satisfy-book-cover

That book became a massive cultural phenomenon and #1 best seller. Same book, same content, just a different title (I would argue a perfect title).

The takeaway for you is simple and clear: Spend time figuring out the best possible title for your book, because it will largely determine what people think about your book, and thus, your book’s success.

A good title should have all of these attributes:

  • Attention-Grabbing
  • Memorable & Searchable
  • Informative
  • Easy & Not Embarrassing to Say

1. Attention-Grabbing

There are a million things pulling on people’s attention. The right title helps you stand out and make that important first impression. A boring title is a killer.

There are many ways to grab attention. You can be provocative, controversial, exciting, make a promise, etc. The point is your title should make people stop and pay attention to it.

Here is what #1 best-selling author Tim Ferriss says about titles:

“The 4-Hour Workweek also bothered some people and was ridiculed by others, which I took as a positive indicator. It’s not accidental that Jay Leno parodied the book on-air—the title lends itself to it, and that was by design. You can’t have strong positive responses without strong negative responses, and beware—above all—the lukewarm reception from all. ‘Oh, that’s nice. I think it’s pretty good,’ is a death sentence. “

2. Memorable & Searchable

It’s much easier to get a reaction out of someone and then be forgotten, than it is to get a reaction and also be memorable.

Remember, a book’s title is not only the first thing a reader hears about your book, it’s the one piece of information that a potential reader has that leads them back to the book itself.

If your book is recommended to them by a friend, and they can’t remember the title, then they can’t go find it in a bookstore or on Amazon. Best-selling author Scott Berkun says it well:

“Often [the title] is all a potential buyer ever gets to see, and if they can draw interest the book crosses its first of many hurdles in the improbable struggle of getting noticed. But titles only help so much. Most people hear about books the same way they hear about new bands. Or new people to meet. A friend or trusted source tells them it was good and it was called  <NAME HERE>. The title at that point serves as a moniker. It’s the thing you need to remember to get the thing you want to get and little more. “

This also means you want the book title to be easily searchable. In the world we live in, search is how people find things now. If your title does not lend itself to easy memorization and searchability on Google and Amazon, that is very bad.

3. Informative (Gives an Idea of What the Book is About)

This is the least crucial aspect for fiction titles, but very important for non-fiction. The title, including the subtitle , should give the reader some sort of idea of what the book is about.

People aren’t going to do your work for you; the easier you make it for them to understand the subject, the more likely you are to draw in the people who’d find your book interesting.

A good test is to ask yourself this: If you were to tell someone the title of your book at a party, would they have to ask what it’s about?

If so, that’s probably a bad title.

Don’t out-think yourself on your title. A title that is overly clever or unclear signals the book is for people who immediately understand the word or phrase—which makes people who don’t get it right away feel dumb (and less likely to buy the book).

By using a word or phrase that is either not immediately understandable by your desired audience or doesn’t convey the point of the book, you’re putting a huge obstacle in front of your success.

Though your title should be informative and easily understood, it doesn’t need to spell out the entire book. Take Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling Outliers for example: this title does a great job of cuing the content of the book without describing it outright.

4. Easy & Not Embarrassing To Say

Having an easy to say title is a concept called cognitive fluency. It means people are more likely to remember and respond to words and phrases they can immediately understand and pronounce.

Without going too far into the psychological literature, the point is this: Don’t try to be sophisticated at the risk of being obscure.

It’s a basic fact of human psychology—people don’t like to feel socially awkward. If a book title is hard to pronounce, or more importantly, if it’s a phrase that sounds stupid when said out loud, it makes them far less likely to buy it, and chances are they won’t talk about it to other people.

One of the most important things to think about when picking your book title is word of mouth. Think about how people will feel about saying this book title out loud to their friends. Does it make them look smart or stupid?

The worst possible title is one that makes someone feel silly saying it out loud. For example, if the book title is something like “Why Racism Is Great,” no one is ever going to tell their friends about it, no matter how good the book is, because they have to then face the scrutiny of why they bought that book in the first place. Social context doesn’t just matter some; it matters a lot.

Take this list of bad book titles , and imagine saying any of them out loud to your friends in a serious way—you’d never do that.

Generally speaking, shorter titles are best. A short title is not only more memorable and easier to say for your target audience, it also gives space and flexibility for a better book cover. A one-word title is the best.

People get lured into crafting titles that are exacting and long-winded in an effort to make the title signal the book idea and audience. In the title, stick to the core idea. If you want to get wordy, then leave that to the subtitle.

If you can, aim to keep the main title around 5 words or less. The subtitle can offer context or tell a bit more about what the reader will learn. Cameron Herold’s book Meetings Suck has a pithy title, with a subtitle that helps the reader see why the need the book: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable.

Made to Stick

How To Come Up With A Book Title

Your goals for your book determine what type of title you pick.

If you want to build a brand out of your non-fiction book, your title options are quite different than if you want to publish a racy thriller.

Let’s examine all the functions your book title can serve, and the places for potential use, before we walk you through the precise process of thinking up title ideas:

How A Book Title Can Be Used

  • To sell the book to readers
  • Establish the author’s authority in a subject
  • Be a hook for the author to get media visibility
  • Branding for a company, author, conference, or course materials
  • Advertise/market the book
  • Used in speeches, slides, or other in-person activities
  • Used in reviews, blog posts, articles, etc.
  • Something the author has to say in all their press appearances
  • Become a defining part of an author’s future bio
  • Decorate the cover
  • Identify the Amazon/B&N listing
  • Start a line of books
  • Use on t-shirts, flyers, or other promotional material
  • Brand a main character or character’s name (Harry Potter)

The point of this whole list is simple: Know which of these objectives apply to your book, and make sure your title can serve those objectives.

For example, if your goal is to build a brand, make sure your book title is your brand. Dave Asprey’s first diet book is called The Bulletproof Diet , because that’s his brand: Bulletproof. The book is about selling everything around the book, not just the book itself.

If your goal is authority in your field, make sure the book title sounds authoritative to whom you are trying to speak. Whimsical doesn’t work in serious academic fields, whereas serious doesn’t work in comedic fields.

If your goal is to get media attention and raise your visibility, make sure the book title l appeals to media and makes them want to cover you.

Brainstorming for titles is not a specific thing you do for an hour, but rather a long term process. It may take you months and hundreds of book title ideas to finalize your title.

But you start by simply brainstorming titles. Literally start a file and write down every working title you can think of for your book.

I know that telling someone to brainstorm is like telling someone to “be creative.” There is no best way to brainstorm, but there are a lot of best practices.

This is a list of every possible way we know of to find a good book title, complete with examples of book titles (remember, these techniques are not just for your main title, they will be the basis for your subtitles as well). Most of these are for nonfiction titles, though some can be used for novel titles.

Also, don’t be afraid to put bad titles on your brainstorm list. Bad titles actually help you–because they will get you to a good title. Here are some best practices:

Use Clever or Noteworthy Phrases From The Book

This is very common in fiction, and can work well with novel titles. It also works well with non-fiction books where the concept of the book can be summed up quickly or with one phrase.

  • The Black Swan
  • Lecturing Birds On Flying
  • I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell

Use Both Short and Long Phrases

We usually start with a really long title and work our way down to much a short title. The goal is the main title be as short as possible—no more than 5 words—and have the subtitle offer the context and put in important keywords.

Use Relevant Keywords

For non-fiction especially, search matters. You want to make sure that when someone searches for the subject or topic of your book, it will come up on Google and Amazon. But it’s a balancing act, because you don’t want to sacrifice the authenticity of the work for what looks and feels like a search string query.

If you are unsure of this, go look on Amazon and see how often subtitles and titles use additional keywords to attract more search engine traffic.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
  • Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com

Make a Promise of a Benefit

Some of the best titles promise to help readers achieve a desired goal or get some wanted benefit. They specifically call out an end result that people want:

  • How To Win Friends and Influence People
  • Getting Things Done
  • Think And Grow Rich

Be Simple and Direct

Some of the very best titles are just basic statements about what the book is. There is nothing wrong with this, it can work well, especially for strictly instructional books.

  • Getting Past No
  • The Power Of Habit

Target an Audience

As we said, people use titles to judge if the book is for them. Part of helping people understand this can be targeting them in your title. You can target specific audiences by naming them or by describing their characteristics. This works especially well if you have a series of books, and then do versions targeted to specific niches.

  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting
  • Physics For Future Presidents

Offer a Specific Solution to a Problem

This is very popular in the self-help and diet spaces.

You tell the reader exactly what problem your book solves in the title. This is similar to the promise of a benefit, but not the exact same thing; a benefit is something additive, like being sexy. A solution to a problem takes away something negative, like losing weight.

  • Man’s Search for Meaning
  • 6 Ways to Lose Belly Fat Without Exercise!
  • Secrets of Closing The Sale

Use Numbers to Add Credibility

Specifics, like numbers, add credibility and urgency to your titles. The can provide structure for your information, or they can make hard things seem easier. Specificity enables people to engage the idea in a more concrete way, and gives bounded limits and certainty on time frames as well.

  • The 48 Laws of Power
  • The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
  • The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership

Pique The Reader’s Curiosity (But Withhold The Answer)

Using statements that seem to be impossible, unusual contrasts, or paradoxes can make readers curious about what is in the book. The idea is to make a claim or statement that seems a little far-fetched or fantastical, but promises delivery. This is very popular now with headline writing on sites like UpWorthy and ViralNova.

The iconic recent example of this with books is one we already mentioned, The 4-Hour Workweek. Everyone wants to know how to work 4 hours a week, except it seems impossible, so you pick up the book to see what that guy is talking about.

  • Networking Is Not Working
  • 10% Happier
  • Who Moved My Cheese?

Use Metaphors or Symbols Associated With The Themes in Your Book

Humans think in symbol and metaphor. Using these powerful devices can help you create a strong title that really resonates.

The iconic metaphor-based series is “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” The title signals the warm, nurturing feeling that our culture associates with chicken soup and connects it to something else–stories that nurture your soul.

  • The Untethered Soul

Use Alliteration

Alliteration is the use of the same letter at the beginning of all or most of the words in your title. This makes things easier for humans to remember.

  • The Mighty Miss Malone
  • A Storm Of Swords
  • The Pop-Up Paradigm

Alter a Popular Phrase

This is common in book titles and tends to work well—taking a famous phrase and altering it in a way that makes sense for you book. This works because it’s close to something people know, but not exactly the same thing.

  • The War of Art
  • Assholes Finish First

Slang can work really well, especially if it’s used in a way that is non-intuitive but also novel.

  • Ain’t Too Proud To Beg
  • No Mopes Allowed: A Small Town Police Chief Rants and Babbles about Hugs and High Fives, Meth Busts, Internet Celebrity, and Other Adventures

Try cliche formats (or reversing them)

There are a ton of book-naming tropes that can work well if used correctly:

  • The Art of [TOPIC]
  • The Myth of [TOPIC]
  • Confessions of [TOPIC]
  • How to [TOPIC]
  • The Joy of [TOPIC]
  • The End of [TOPIC]
  • The Art of Racing In The Rain
  • The Myth of Male Power
  • Confessions of An Economic Hitman
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Joy of Sex
  • The End of Science

Done poorly, these kinds of titles can seem cliched and cloying instead of fresh. This technique is best used when it offers a twist—but isn’t so far out that it confuses the reader.

Consider Coining a Phrase or New Word

This is very helpful, especially if you want to create a brand or company or extended product line out of your book, or brand a character name. The problem with this is that it’s not an easy thing to do. Many authors try to create new words; few succeed, so try this sparingly. The most important element of this technique is that the word is easy to say and understand.

  • Essentialism

Use Amazon/Goodreads/Wikipedia For Inspiration

If you’re feeling stuck, you can always go look at how other books are named.

  • Wikipedia’s list of best selling books of all time
  • Goodreads list of best book titles
  • Amazon’s current best selling books

Use Copywriting Manuals For Ideas

If you are truly stuck and cannot think of anything, read some books about copywriting. They are not specifically about book titling, but copywriters have to understand the sell triggers, and they will give you tons and tons of examples. These are three of the best out there:

  • POP!: Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline for Anything
  • The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost your Sales.
  • Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich: Create Winning Ads, Web Pages, Sales Letters and More

Step 3: Check Copyright, Trademark, Keywords and Popularity

First off, let me very clear about this: you cannot copyright titles.

Technically, you can call your book “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “Lord Of The Rings” or even “The Holy Bible.”

That being said, copying a popular book makes it VERY hard for your book to stand out, and pretty much guarantees a lot of negative reviews from people who are not getting the book they expected.

That being said, you can trademark a title, if it is part of a larger brand. For example, the term “Bulletproof” is trademarked in the health and fitness space by Dave Asprey. You (probably) can’t title a book “The Bulletproof Diet” because it infringes on a trademark (not the copyright ).

If this is confusing, and you have a book title you think might be a trademark infringement, then talk to an IP attorney.

Also, make sure you check that the title and subtitle have the right keywords you want to address your market, and aligns with any domain and brand issues you have.

Step 4: Pick Your Favorites

At this point, you should have a long list of title ideas. Once that’s done, you can move on to the next step: picking your titles.

I cannot emphasize how important this next step is:

Everyone has opinions on book titles. Most of those opinions are stupid and wrong.

Even people who get PAID to come up with book titles (editors, publishers, etc.) are usually bad at it.

Here’s a great test as to whether or not you have a good book title: imagine one of your readers talking about your book at a party to other people.

If you can see them confidently saying the book title aloud, and the people listening nodding and immediately either understanding what the book is about based on that (and perhaps a sentence or two of explanation), or asking for a further explanation because it sounds interesting, then you’ve got a good title.

If you imagine any other reaction than this one, you need to re-think your title, and probably change it.

Remember, so much of book marketing boils down to word of mouth, and word of mouth is all about people signaling things to other people. You want your book title to inspire and motivate the right people to talk about it, because it lets them signal the right things to their friends.

Test #2: (optional) Test Actual Clicks

Here’s one of the keys to testing your titles: test both the main title and subtitle and test them in many different iterations. Usually what you’ll find is most things test about the same, while there will be one thing that clearly tests better as a title and another that clearly tests best as a subtitle.

This is a great piece about the step-by-step process of using Google Adwords to test a title.

If you have a large audience already, you can also use Survey Monkey .

For real customer feedback, I recommend using Pickfu .

I would also recommend Google Survey . This is real market testing of real people and can be done fairly cheaply.

How Not To Test Your Book Title

Most of the things authors do to test their titles are very, very bad.

For example, posting on social media is NOT TESTING YOUR TITLE. In fact, posting on social media is about the worst possible way to test a title.

Why is this?

Well, your social media friends are probably not your audience, and a tweet about the title won’t help you. And even worse, everyone on your social media has an agenda relative to the author that will often put you off-kilter.

Friends and family don’t work. Generally speaking, they want to make you happy. They don’t want to give you an objective answer. Or they want to make sure you look good, but they don’t know what will actually make you look good.

Furthermore, oftentimes colleagues will be critical—because they are jealous. It happens a lot, and they will give you bad advice , even if only unconscious.

And some authors will go to their marketing teams for title advice, which can often lead you way off-kilter. Do you know the saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee? When you start getting opinions from lots of different sources, you get the “camel effect” hardcore.

If you’re doing a non-fiction book, yes, probably so.

The way we like to frame it is that the title is the hook, and the subtitle is the explanation. The subtitle is the promise of the book.

Books need a subtitle if it’s necessary to contextualize the subject alluded to in the main title. Typically, the subtitle tells the reader some combination of what the book’s central premise is, who the book is for, and what promise the book delivers on or need it meets.

Some examples where subtitles help contextualize the title and deliver the promise of the implied title:

  • The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape The 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join The New Rich: See how the title hooks you by being interesting, and the subtitle explains the premise? Very well done.
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead: It’s a bit long, but the same thing is going on here; the subtitle contextualizes and frames the title, which is clear, easy to understand, and say.
  • Kitchen Confidential: This originally had a subtitle, “Adventures In The Culinary Underbelly,” but it was later dropped. No subtitle was needed on this work of non-fiction, because the meaning is clear, especially when paired with a picture of a chef on the front (and because it became very famous, which helps).
  • The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11: This is an example of a book where the subtitle is very important. That title could mean many things, but the subtitle quickly signals what the book is about and who it’s for.

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How to Title an Essay? Everything an Essay Guru Should Know

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How to Title an Essay

As soon as you sit down to compose an academic paper, you may be troubled by how to name your essay so that it reveals the essence of your text and grabs the audience’s attention at first sight. Ideally, that’s what a good title should achieve – informing and engaging. 

So, what’s the secret recipe for an ideal essay title ? How long should an essay title b e to comply with the college rules and formatting standards? 

The answer is not that straightforward, as you need to be inventive when creating an essay title . Some pro tactics will always help you move on and find a good title for an essay on any topic, and your task is to master the art of naming your works like a pro. 

Read on to get an exhaustive answer to the question, “ What is a good title for an essay ?” Your search for the best essay title ends here. Our guide covers the main principles of title formatting, structuring, and selection to make you a naming guru. We’ve also paired theory with practice and have given a series of catchy essay title examples to illustrate the manual. 

A Secret Recipe of a Good Essay Title 

To understand what a good title for an essay looks like, we need to understand its purpose. Wise people say that a reader shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Yet, in fact, that’s what usually happens, and this means that your essay headline will be the first (and sometimes the last) information the reader gets about your intellectual product. 

As a rule, paper titles serve the following goals: 

  • Inform the readers what your essay is about. 
  • Motivate them to go on reading. 
  • Excite their interest in the subject. 
  • Catch the readers’ attention to make them read until the end.

Using these features of a good essay title , we may easily arrive at a definition of a winning headline: 

  • A good title captures the main topic and essence of the essay. 
  • It differentiates your piece from hundreds of texts on a similar topic. 
  • It hooks the readers’ attention and urges them to continue. 
  • A good title also exemplifies your expertise on the subject. 

Essay Title Composition Rules You Should Know 

Now, let’s proceed to the essay title format , which also can’t be ignored when composing an academic paper. Professors may require students to use a variety of referencing styles, each of which has specific instructions about the essay or research paper title . 

Guidelines for Essay Titles in MLA Format 

How to title an essay in MLA? A good title for an essay in the MLA referencing style should follow these conventions: 

  • Use title case for notional words. 
  • Place the title at the center and do not underline, bold, or italicize it. 
  • Double-space the heading as the rest of your essay’s text. 

Guidelines for Essay Titles in APA Format 

How to title an essay in APA? The APA essay title format requires you to follow these instructions: 

  • The APA title is placed on the title page and then repeated on the first page. 
  • It should be capitalized (notional words). 
  • It should be centered on the page and written in the bold font. 

Guidelines for Essay Titles in Chicago Manual of Style Format 

How to title an essay in Chicago? When you’re writing an academic task in the Chicago style, your good title for an essay should be structured as follows: 

  • The title should be placed one-third of the page down from the page’s top. 
  • It should be centered and capitalized. 
  • No bolding or italicization is required.  

How to Title an Essay: Pro Guidelines 

Before we proceed to title ideas for essays , let’s briefly cover the step-by-step algorithm for arriving at a good title your professor will love. So, how to title an essay correctly by using a simple instruction? 

#1 Complete Your Essay 

A pro tip for crafting a good essay title is not to start your work with it but rather to end it. Try this tactic out, and you will see how simple it is to formulate a good headline after the whole text is ready. 

#2 Sum It Up 

Your road to a creative title starts with a recap of your essay’s content. You should re-read the text and summarize it in a couple of sentences to see what it’s exactly about. 

#3 Determine the Keywords 

You can create a good title by using the key phrases and words that capture the gist of your essay. So, pick 3-5 main words that characterize the content and make up several versions of the title using their combinations. 

#4 Mind the Format 

As we’ve already noted, a good headline should be composed in line with the referencing style you need to follow. So, you should check whether your essay should be in the APA, MLA, or other format and use appropriate guidelines in composition.  

#5 Rephrase 

Once you have the key ideas in one place, experiment with paraphrasing to find your good title . 

Creative Essay Title Examples 

Now, it’s time to cover some of the coolest essay titles that can make your paper stand out of the crowd and attract the professor’s attention with creativity and originality. We’ve compiled a list of examples of good titles for essays of various types so that you have go-to prompts regardless of the homework your tutor gives. 

Argumentative 

How to title an essay that should argue a point? When you write an argumentative essay , titling an essay should include the position you’re planning to argue. That’s why a good essay heading of an argumentative type should contain your stand. Some great essay names for argumentative pieces are: 

  • Importance of school uniforms in US public schools. 
  • Severity of the greenhouse effect problem in Canada. 

Compare and Contrast 

Creating an essay title for a compare-and-contrast type of paper is a no-brainer, generally speaking. It should name all the subjects you’re planning to compare and may also include the characteristics by which you want to conduct the comparative analysis. Some great paper titles in the comparative format are: 

  • Distinctive features of wild animals compared to domesticated ones. 
  • Online vs. offline learning. 

Analytical 

How to title an essay with an analytical approach? It requires in-depth analysis of an assigned subject using a variety of academic sources. Thus, a good headline for this piece of work should reflect your analytical standpoint and reveal the essence of your inquiry. Best titles for essays of this kind may look as follows: 

  • Therapeutic benefits of CBT for PTSD. 
  • Limitations of AI applications in creative professions. 

Persuasive 

Titling an essay in a persuasive format should look convincing and reflective of the stand you’re holding. A great persuasive essay heading may look as follows: 

  • The need for more nuanced sex education in public schools. 
  • The unmet needs of cyberbullying victims. 

Expository 

How to title an essay in an expository format? This is a form of writing that requires you to describe a specific subject and introduce it to the audience in as much detail as possible. Thus, this essay title format won’t require argumentation or emotional appeals; an expository essay headline should simply name the subject you will deal with. Good titles for essays of this type can be: 

  • Socio-economic reforms in Sweden. 
  • The peacemaking activities of the UN. 

Use these essay title examples as inspiration to create your own good headline once your next assignment arrives. 

Final Word 

Now you know everything about the principles of writing creative essay titles that impress the readers and have several essay title examples for guidance. If you still have many lingering questions about how to title an essay or what the best essay title should look like, don’t struggle with these academic hardships on your own. 

Come to our service and partner with one of our experienced writers. Each expert in our team knows how to pick a title for an essay , how to select the most suitable essay title format , and what impact great college essay titles produce on your grades. Transform your grades with our pros’ support and guidance, and creating an essay title will never be a challenge for you again. 

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How to Title an Essay

As soon as you sit down to compose an academic paper, you may be troubled by how to name your essay so that it reveals the essence of your text and grabs the audience’s attention at first sight. Ideally, that’s what a good title should achieve – informing and engaging.  So, what’s the secret recipe […]

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Q. How do I refer to a book by title in-text in APA format?

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Answered By: Gabe Gossett Last Updated: Jun 22, 2023     Views: 633701

The basic format for an in-text citation is: Title of the Book (Author Last Name, year).

One author: Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak, 1963) is a depiction of a child coping with his anger towards his mom.

Two authors (cite both names every time): Brabant and Mooney (1986) have used the comic strip to examine evidence of sex role stereotyping. OR The comic strip has been used to examine evidence of sex role stereotyping (Brabant & Mooney, 1986).

Three or more authors (cite the first author plus et al.): Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy (Clare et al., 2016) depicts a young man's experience at the Shadowhunter Academy, a place where being a former vampire is looked down upon.OR Clare et al. (2016) have crafted a unique story about a young man's journey to find himself.

No author: Cite the first few words of the reference entry (usually the title) and the year. Use double quotation marks around the title of an article or chapter, and italicize the title of a periodical, book, brochure, or report. Examples: From the book Study Guide (2000) ... or ("Reading," 1999).

Note: Titles of periodicals, books, brochures, or reports should be in italics and use normal title capitalization rules.

If you are citing multiple sources by multiple authors in-text, you can list all of them by the author's last name and year of publication within the same set of parentheses, separated by semicolons.

Example: (Adams, 1999; Jones & James, 2000; Miller, 1999)

For more information on how to cite books in-text and as a reference entry, see the APA Publication Manual (7th edition) Section 10.2 on pages 321-325 .

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Comments (13)

  • This was very useful for me! I was having a really hard time finding information on how to mention an article title AND the author in text in APA so this was very helpful!!! by Ryan Waddell on Jun 27, 2019
  • If I just mention that I used a book to teach a topic do I have to include it in the reference list? by Franw on Oct 17, 2019
  • @Franw, if it is a source that informs your paper in any way, or if your reader would have reason to look it up, then you should include a full reference list entry for the book. by Gabe [Research & Writing Studio] on Oct 18, 2019
  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding the question, but I think the OP is asking how to refer to a book title, not how to cite one. I believe APA uses quotation marks around book titles and MLA uses italics. by AB on Dec 12, 2019
  • @AB: The first sentence has been tweaked to clarify title of book usage, reflecting the examples given. For APA style you should use italics for book titles. It would be quotation marks. by Gabe [Research & Writing Studio] on Dec 12, 2019
  • Hi, can any one help me with in-text-citation of this, how can i cite it in the text Panel, I. L. (2002). Digital transformation: A framework for ICT literacy. Educational Testing Service, 1-53. by Milad on Aug 20, 2021
  • @Milad: In that case it would be (Panel, 2002). If you are quoting, or otherwise choosing to include page numbers, put a comma after the year, then p. and the page number(s). by Gabe Gossett on Aug 20, 2021
  • Hey, I'm a little bit curious, what if I'm mentioning a book and paraphrasing it but still want to give credit. Would I put the information into parenthesis instead? Like: Paraphrased info. ("Title in Italics" Author, year) by Kai on Sep 14, 2023
  • @Kai: Apologies for not seeing your question sooner! (Our academic year has not started yet). If I am understanding your question correctly, what I suggest is referring to the book title in the narrative of your writing, rather than in the in-text citation. I do not see an examples of using a book title in an in-text citation except for rare circumstances including citing a classic religious text or using the title when there is no author information because it is the start of your reference list entry. Basically, APA's in-text convention is supposed to make it easy for your reader to locate the source being cited in the reference list. So the first part of the in-text citation, usually authors, comes first to locate it alphabetically. Putting the book title first when you have an author name can throw that off. by Gabe Gossett on Sep 21, 2023
  • Perhaps this is along the lines of the response to Kai - Can you reference a book title as a common point of social understanding to demonstrate a common concept? Is official citing required if you use widely known titles such as "Where's Waldo" and "Who Moved My Cheese?" to make a point of illustration? by Chez Renee on Sep 30, 2023
  • @Chez: Aside from some classical religious texts, if it is a published book, I'd try to make sure that it is appropriately cited for APA style. That said, I think I understand where it gets tricky with things like Where's Waldo, since that is a series of books and stating "Where's Waldo" is a cultural reference many people would understand, though you can't reasonably cite the entire series. I don't believe that APA gives guidance for this particular issue. If it is being referred to in order to back up a claim, it would help to cite a particular book. If not, then it might work to use a statement such as, "Hanford's Where's Waldo series . . ." by Gabe Gossett on Oct 02, 2023
  • How to cite a dissertation thesis in apa form? by Elizabeth on Feb 05, 2024
  • @Elizabeth: For citing a dissertation or thesis you can check out our page answering that here https://askus.library.wwu.edu/faq/153308 by Gabe Gossett on Feb 05, 2024

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🤔 What is a Harvard Referencing Generator?

A Harvard Referencing Generator is a tool that automatically generates formatted academic references in the Harvard style.

It takes in relevant details about a source -- usually critical information like author names, article titles, publish dates, and URLs -- and adds the correct punctuation and formatting required by the Harvard referencing style.

The generated references can be copied into a reference list or bibliography, and then collectively appended to the end of an academic assignment. This is the standard way to give credit to sources used in the main body of an assignment.

👩‍🎓 Who uses a Harvard Referencing Generator?

Harvard is the main referencing style at colleges and universities in the United Kingdom and Australia. It is also very popular in other English-speaking countries such as South Africa, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. University-level students in these countries are most likely to use a Harvard generator to aid them with their undergraduate assignments (and often post-graduate too).

🙌 Why should I use a Harvard Referencing Generator?

A Harvard Referencing Generator solves two problems:

  • It provides a way to organise and keep track of the sources referenced in the content of an academic paper.
  • It ensures that references are formatted correctly -- inline with the Harvard referencing style -- and it does so considerably faster than writing them out manually.

A well-formatted and broad bibliography can account for up to 20% of the total grade for an undergraduate-level project, and using a generator tool can contribute significantly towards earning them.

⚙️ How do I use MyBib's Harvard Referencing Generator?

Here's how to use our reference generator:

  • If citing a book, website, journal, or video: enter the URL or title into the search bar at the top of the page and press the search button.
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My book is not my baby — but the two do have a lot in common

For me, publishing a book isn't the same as giving birth. it's more like sending my child to preschool, by noa silver.

I remember in my first year of motherhood the way I felt my world grow smaller and more intimate , the pace of my life grow slower and more focused. When my husband would come home from coaching and consulting meetings, networking events, and the workshops he facilitated, he would find me ensconced in the tiny world of our home, wrapped up in the milky sweetness of the baby. The private, domestic realm became my primary realm during those early months of motherhood, when I would walk around and around our small apartment with my baby wrapped to my chest, murmuring “shh, shh,” over and over again, like a mantra, or a prayer. Her heart beating against my heart, recreating womb-like conditions on the outside.

In the same sun-drenched week in August, that baby, my elder daughter, started preschool and I signed a publishing contract for my debut novel, "California Dreaming ." Two years after that, my younger daughter has started at that same preschool, and "California Dreaming" is mere days from being released.

Like those early months of motherhood, writing is an intensely private, solitary act. For me, to write necessitates going inward, it requires shutting out the outside world and external stimuli for the sake of being able to listen fully. My writing process takes inspiration from Anne Lamott’s practice of the one-inch picture frame. All through my daughters’ early years, I would carve out pockets of time — while they napped, or after bedtime, or when they were at the playground — to write. My pace of writing my novel was complementary to the pace of motherhood, the pace of attending to a baby and then a toddler. Each day I wrote just 250 words, filling my one-inch frame.

I am not the first to notice the connection between writing and parenting , but while many have compared publishing a book to giving birth, for me there is an even more apt comparison. Both child and book lived in and then with me for many years after their births. For me, publishing a book feels most parallel to sending my child to preschool for the first time, for it is in both these acts that that which once lived solely inside the private, domestic realm, and within only a few primary relationships, now enters the public sphere.

The distinction between the public and private realms, the separation between domestic and political spheres, has long been deeply intertwined with the preservation of a capitalistic society. Mothering so often happens outside of the public sphere, outside of the public gaze, and much has been written about the hidden, unpaid labor of caretaking. In our society, there is a hiddenness inherent in the domestic realm and a hiddenness to the lives and experiences of women.

Like those early months of motherhood, writing is an intensely private, solitary act.

Perhaps the novel form itself could be considered a kind of public square, a forum in which human relationships, motivations, self-discovery, and journeying gets played out again and again through different lenses, and under different gazes. Historically, even in the context of the novel, significant female life experiences — childbirth and abortion, breastfeeding and postpartum depression —  have not been explored nearly as deeply as those life experiences of typical male self-development.

In my writing, I am drawn to exploring the inner lives of women, especially during moments of significant life transitions. In "California Dreaming," the main character is Elena, who, over the course of the novel, grows from a young, idealistic early 20-something, into a 30-year-old woman who reckons with the decisions she has made, the values she holds and the stories she has inherited. It is a bildungsroman, a story form that traces the general and spiritual coming-of-age process, and it is told in the first-person point of view, granting Elena herself the narrative voice to describe her journey. There is an intimacy in using the first-person, a way of drawing near to the narrator that allows for greater play and insight into the narrator’s own development, her way of viewing the world, her inner life.

In an interview with Terry Gross in 1985, the writer Grace Paley reflected, “When you write, you illuminate what’s hidden, and that’s a political act.” For many years, my primary world has been the private, domestic, intimate world of mothering little children and writing and rewriting and editing a novel. A hidden world. And now, gradually, there are bridges between the private and public realms, and that which has been hidden is becoming illuminated, revealed.

In the months after giving birth, I felt the deep truth of the fact that I was not fully separate from my children. And yet, as they have grown, we have each gone through periods of differentiation, of reasserting the boundaries of self. My children no longer exist primarily in a carrier or in my arms; they are no longer solely dyadic extensions of me. They go to school, they have thoughts and experiences and dreams and feelings and wishes that I am not witness to, and that they navigate with peers and teachers and the many other people who populate their life. They have relationships that are their own.

So, too, with my novel. For many years I worked in private tandem with the novel, with my own creative process. In the months since I signed my book deal, however, I have begun to experience the way my creative process—a process of unfolding, refining, listening, and responding—is being transmuted into an object, into something that will go out into the world, into the public sphere, and there take on a life of its own. We are differentiating, my book and I, and soon it will be in relationship with others, with readers who will encounter it as themselves, and form judgments, connections, and opinions about it that are distinct from my own.

Motherhood’s value has often been located in the fact that the children we are mothering will eventually become citizens of the larger society. Similarly, a book on its publishing journey—as I have newfound understanding and appreciation for—ultimately becomes a commodity. The publishing industry measures a book’s success in sales, and even my chance at publishing another book in the future may rest on the sales numbers of my first. In these months of preparing for my book’s launch, of asking bookstores and libraries to stock my book, and friends and family to pre-order, I have been struck by my own doubts of its inherent worth. To ask people to buy it , to spend money on it, has necessarily sent me diving into questions of its value : Will this book change your life? Must it be read? Will you like it? I don’t know.

For many years, my primary world has been the private, domestic, intimate world of mothering little children and writing and rewriting and editing a novel. A hidden world.

Here’s what I do know: it had to be written. It called to me again and again during the writing process itself, that private, intimate birthing and caring for of this idea, these characters, this story, this particular viewpoint on the whole messy endeavor that we call life, and I couldn’t not write it.

In many ways, this is the same way I feel toward mothering my children. I don’t know who they will become, or what they will or will not contribute to society. I mother them in this moment, now, because they are here, in front of me, whole and perfect and messy and complete human beings just as they are. I attend to them because I must, because I am called to with my whole self.

It can seem at times that worth and value exist exclusively in the public sphere, in the shared collective, in the process of being witnessed and incorporated into the greater whole. But when this greater whole is one whose meaning rests in capital, then worth and value become markers for how much something contributes to capital: the book that sells well, or the child who grows up to be a “productive” member of society—a worker, a voter, a consumer.

It is not that I am against a shared, collective space, not that I wish for more individualized and individualistic paths toward meaning — far from it. However, in the context of a public sphere that primarily operates in terms of product, output and money, the private realm can sometimes seem a place of refuge, a place where creative process and attentive mothering can actually coexist in harmony, for the sake of attention itself, for the sake of love—and not future production or consumption.

Yet, I wonder whether that coexistence can only occur out of the public gaze, in a hidden domain, or if it would be possible for it to thrive in the public sphere. What kind of relationships could we have, the witnessers and the witnessed, in which we could write and mother from a place of intimate curiosity, where we could do so in a way that feels held by others, by community, where it is neither solely a solitary, lonely endeavor, nor one whose worth is measured in a balance sheet?

Perhaps it is only in a novel where we can fully explore that possibility.

personal stories from writers

  • What if I can't "savor every single moment" of their childhood?
  • The "groupie," the ghostwriter and me
  • My disapproving doctor father hated my work — but we had more in common than I thought

Noa Silver was born in Jerusalem and raised between Scotland and Maine. Her debut novel " California Dreaming " is due out in May.

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  1. How to Write a Book Title in Essay [Examples]

    Write it at the beginning of your sentence. Capitalize it just like any other noun or proper noun. Put a comma after the title unless it's an introductory clause or phrase. For example: "The Firm," by John Grisham (not "by") and "The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D Salinger (not "and"). In addition to the book's name ...

  2. How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

    Exceptions to the Rule. The rule for writing book titles in italics applies specifically to running text. If the book title is standing on its own, as in a heading, there's no need to italicize it. Additionally, if the book is part of a larger series and you're mentioning both the title of the series and that of the individual book, you can ...

  3. How To Write Book Titles The Proper Way: A Complete Guide For Writers

    The answer is: in this case, yes. In other cases, sometimes. It's really not as confusing as it seems. When you are talking about a book series but don't want or need to include the complete series titles for the purposes of your work, you only have to put words in italics that also appear in the book titles. So, because Harry Potter is ...

  4. How to Write a Book Title in an Essay (MLA, APA etc.)

    Heart of Darkness ). Place the name of a single chapter in quote marks, instead ("The Great Towns" from Condition of the Working Class in England by Friedrich Engels). APA. Italicize the book title. Capitalize the first letter, the first letter of a subtitle, and proper nouns.

  5. 4 Ways to Write a Book Name in an Essay

    For example, you would write the name of William Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom! with both the comma and the exclamation point in italics. 4. Highlight the book name. Hover your cursor at the beginning of the book name and left click your mouse. Hold the key down and drag your cursor over the title of the book.

  6. How to Write Book Titles in Essays: APA, MLA, Chicago Styles

    How to Write the Title of a Book in an Essay. First, remember the general rules of citing book names in academic works. Here's how to cite books in essays: Use capitalization. Every word of a book's name goes in the title case, except prepositions, articles, and coordinating conjunctions.

  7. How to Write a Book Title in an Essay in MLA & APA Styles

    Writing a book title in an essay in MLA style requires attention to detail and adherence to specific guidelines to maintain consistency and accuracy. Whether you're discussing a classic novel, a contemporary work of fiction, or a scholarly publication, correctly formatting the book title is essential for conveying your ideas effectively. ...

  8. PDF WRITING AN EFFECTIVE TITLE

    11. Write a one-word title—the most obvious one possible. 12. Write a less obvious one-word title. 13. Write a two-word title. 14. Write a three-word title. 15. Write a four-word title. 16. Write a five-word title. 17. Think of a familiar saying, or the title of a book, song, or movie, that might fit your essay. 18. Take the title you just ...

  9. How to Write a Book Title in MLA Formatting

    In fact, most style guides, including MLA and Chicago style, require book titles to be italicized, not underlined. If the book title has a subtitle, the subtitle should be italicized as well and separated by a colon to be formatted correctly for MLA style, as in: Natural History of the Intellect: the last lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  10. How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

    In APA style, there should be a colon (:) between the main title and any subtitle. When citing a book title within the text of your paper, use title case and italicize it. When including book titles in your reference list, use sentence case and italicize it. Example 3: Punctuation.

  11. Title

    Titles that are independent and self-contained (e.g., books) and titles of containers (e.g., anthologies) should be italicized. Titles that are contained in larger works (e.g., short stories) ... The title of a story, poem or essay in a collection, as part of a larger whole, is placed in quotation marks. Dewar, James A., and Peng Hwa Ang. ...

  12. MLA Titles

    Use quotation marks around the title if it is part of a larger work (e.g. a chapter of a book, an article in a journal, or a page on a website). All major words in a title are capitalized. The same format is used in the Works Cited list and in the text itself. When you use the Scribbr MLA Citation Generator, the correct formatting and ...

  13. How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: Rules and Tips

    Capitalize the first word of titles of books in papers, the first word after a colon, and all major words. Avoid capitalizing minor words (e.g., articles, prepositions, conjunctions) unless they are the first word of the name or longer than four letters. Always place the book title after the author's name.

  14. How do you write a book title in MLA?

    If a source has no author, start the MLA Works Cited entry with the source title.Use a shortened version of the title in your MLA in-text citation.. If a source has no page numbers, you can use an alternative locator (e.g. a chapter number, or a timestamp for a video or audio source) to identify the relevant passage in your in-text citation. If the source has no numbered divisions, cite only ...

  15. How to Write a Book Title (15 Expert Tips + Examples)

    Here's how to write a book title that readers love: 1. Use unique or unusual words. Some ways to do this are: use a thesaurus and combine two words to make a unique word (for e.g. Freakonomics, Spoonbenders). If your main character has a unique name, you can write the name as a book title (for e.g. Frankenstein, Oliver Twist). 2.

  16. APA Style

    Use initials for the first and middle names of authors. Use one space between initials. All names are inverted (last name, first initial). Do not hyphenate a name unless it is hyphenated on the item. Separate the author's names with a comma and use the ampersand symbol "&" before the last author listed. Spell out the name of any organization ...

  17. How to Write a Book Title and Author in an Essay?

    Underline the complete title, including any words that come after a colon or dash. Underline any punctuation that appears in the book's title. Avoid underlining each word separately; always use one continuous line. Make your line as straight as possible by using a ruler or following the line on the paper.

  18. How to Write a Book Title Correctly: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Watch on. There are 7 steps to writing a book title correctly: Understand the Structure of a Book Title. Be Able to State the Unity of Your Book. Define the Appropriate Tone and Style for the Title. Choose the Most Compelling Image Possible. Select Strong, Visual Words That Invite Readers.

  19. How To Write The Perfect Book Title [Examples Included]

    People get lured into crafting titles that are exacting and long-winded in an effort to make the title signal the book idea and audience. In the title, stick to the core idea. If you want to get wordy, then leave that to the subtitle. If you can, aim to keep the main title around 5 words or less.

  20. How To Write Titles in Essays (With Tips)

    Capitalize the first and final word of the title. Capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, helping verbs, adjectives and adverbs within the title. Capitalize the first word that follows a colon when using title case. Do not capitalize articles located between the first and final words, such as "the," "a" and "an."

  21. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

    Table of contents. Step 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices. Step 2: Coming up with a thesis. Step 3: Writing a title and introduction. Step 4: Writing the body of the essay. Step 5: Writing a conclusion. Other interesting articles.

  22. How to Title an Essay? All Secrets Revealed

    Your road to a creative title starts with a recap of your essay's content. You should re-read the text and summarize it in a couple of sentences to see what it's exactly about. #3 Determine the Keywords. You can create a good title by using the key phrases and words that capture the gist of your essay.

  23. Q. How do I refer to a book by title in-text in APA format?

    Jun 22, 2023 633275. The basic format for an in-text citation is: Title of the Book (Author Last Name, year). Examples. One author: Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak, 1963) is a depiction of a child coping with his anger towards his mom. Two authors (cite both names every time): Brabant and Mooney (1986) have used the comic strip to examine ...

  24. Free Harvard Referencing Generator [Updated for 2024]

    A Harvard Referencing Generator solves two problems: It provides a way to organise and keep track of the sources referenced in the content of an academic paper. It ensures that references are formatted correctly -- inline with the Harvard referencing style -- and it does so considerably faster than writing them out manually.

  25. My book is not my baby

    In an interview with Terry Gross in 1985, the writer Grace Paley reflected, "When you write, you illuminate what's hidden, and that's a political act.". For many years, my primary world ...

  26. Report Writing Format with Templates and Sample Report

    2. Follow the Right Report Writing Format: Adhere to a structured format, including a clear title, table of contents, summary, introduction, body, conclusion, recommendations, and appendices. This ensures clarity and coherence. Follow the format suggestions in this article to start off on the right foot. 3.