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How To Write A Book Title In Essay Properly

Writing a book title is not as straightforward as it may seem, especially when you are not sure how to write a book title in an essay.  Some of the questions that most students ask include; should I use italics? Does the correct format vary depending on the referencing of the paper? Should I use quotations marks? Should a book title be underlined?

In this article, we will get into the details of every question highlighted and more. However, it is essential to keep in mind that different style guides have different writing standards.

How to Write a Book Title and Author in Essay in APA Style

As earlier mentioned, the style used to write a title of a book vary based on the referencing style of the paper, i.e., APA, MLA, or Chicago.

On an APA reference paper, the rules are different from those used in MLA and Chicago.

Rules for Writing a Book Title in APA


  • Capitalize the first word and all words that have more than 4 letters
  • For a two-part hyphenated word, both words should also be capitalized
  • Words after dash or colon should also be capitalized
  • Use quotation marks instead of italics with the exceptions of the Bible and catalogs of reference material such as dictionaries.

Example: “Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince: Children's Edition”

Ideally, APA’s Publication Manual (2010) holds that when writing a book title in an essay, you should use italics for titles of

  • Books
  • Films
  • Videos
  • Periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers)
  • Microfilm publications
  • TV shows

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How to Write an Authors’ Name in an APA Essay

When writing the author's name in APA, you should use their surname and initials of their other names. You should only provide initials for the first and middle names. However, don’t include initials of all middle names provided. 

There should be a comma after every last name and in- between different authors’ names. You should also include a period after every initial, and you are required to close the Author portion of the citation with one period.

Example: Johnson, M.C., Carlson, M., Smith, J. N., & Hanover, L. E.

How to Cite a Book Title in MLA Style Essay

When it comes to citing, it is important to note that quotations for essays are two different things. Inciting, you will need to indicate the name of the author and the page while as in quotations, you only need to paste the original piece of text. Citing the title of a book in an essay using MLA style is different from APA but almost similar to Chicago.

Rules of Citing In MLA

The full book name should be in italics, followed by a period

For example:

Last Name, First Name. Italicized Title. Publisher, Publication Year.

In case the name of the book has a subtitle, it should come after the title and should be separated using a colon.


Last Name, First Name. Italicized Title: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication Year.

If the source used is part of a larger work, for example, a chapter or essay, the title should be placed in quotation marks and this title should be followed by a period in the end. It is then followed by the title of the larger work in italics, and a comma at the end.

For example:

Langer, A.J., “Lessons in Friendships.” Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: 101 Stories of Life, Love, and Learning, edited by Jack Canfield et al., Simon & Schuster, 1997, pp. 56-62.

Since these citations can be quite confusing, you don’t have to cram the specific style since you can use citation generators to help get the correct format based on the required reference format.

Writing the Title of a Book in an Essay in Chicago Style

Chicago and MLA book title and author formatting styles are similar

The Rules

  • Capitalize the first letter of all nouns, adjectives, and verbs in the book name
  • Do not capitalize articles, coordinating conjunctions, or prepositions
  • The name should be in italics, and punctuation marks in the book’s name should also be italicized

For example: Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince: Children's Edition

Quotation marks should only be used instead of italics if the book is part of an anthology. An anthology is a collection of smaller works which includes short texts.

How to Write Different Types of Titles in Your Essay

Different titles are cited different depending on the type of work

  • Headings of full works (novel, movies, plays, textbooks, and epic poems) should be italicized
  • Headings of books that form a larger body of work can be written in quotation marks in the case where the name of the book series is italicized
  • Headings of short works (articles, poems, short stories, and chapter titles) should be in quotation marks.

How to Mention a Comic Book in an Essay?

If you need to mention a comic book, make sure to italicize its name.

For example: The Wrath of Gnasher

But if you are looking to quote a comic strip, this should be in quotation marks, but the title remains italicized

The Wrath of Gnasher: “The Beano”

What is Correct Writing of a Poem Title in an Essay?

Poems are short works, which means that their names should be in quotation marks. An exception of this rule occurs only if the poem is of a novel-length, for example, the “Paradise Lost.” In this case, the title should be in italics or underlined. Thus it should be Paradise Lost or Paradise Lost

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Do We Need to Underline or Italicize Book Titles in an Essay?

This is one of the frequently asked questions, and to be honest, it can be quite confusing. However, the answer is yes; we do. This is essential since it allows you to stick to the rules of various referencing styles such as APA, MLA, and Chicago.

According to the Modern Language Association and Chicago Manual of Style names of books, among other longer works such as newspapers should be in italic. On the other end, APA’s Publication Manual suggests that you use quotation marks with the exceptions of Bible and reference materials such as almanacs and dictionaries.

In the case of a handwritten essay, your book name should be capitalized and underlined. If you are still not sure on how to write book titles in your essay, you can always order essays for sale here from reliable education platforms where an experienced writer will ensure that your citations are as per the required format.

Ideally, how you write a book title in an essay varies a little bit biased in the style of your teacher's instructions.  However, the major difference between writing a book title of an essay in APA and MLA/Chicago is that in APA, you use quotation marks, while as in MLA and Chicago, the title is italicized. For a handwritten essay, the book's name should be capitalized and underlined.

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