Using Sources Correctly

Handling Titles

Here are a few basic rules for formatting titles:

  • Periodical and book titles are always italicized.
  • Article and chapter titles are not italicized and are placed in quotation marks.
  • Every word in a title is capitalized except for conjunctions (small joining words like and, but, or if), articles (a, an, and the), and prepositions (words that show position, like above, on, and between). Also, don’t capitalize “to” when it’s part of a verb (to Learn, to Practice, etc.).
  • If a colon is used within the title, the word after the colon is always capitalized, e.g., Raising Golden Retrievers: An Exercise in Power Vacuuming.

check mark iconCheck Your Understanding: Formatting Titles

You’ll probably be working with all kinds of texts as you write essays and assignments for various college classes. Properly formatting the titles of your sources signals to your readers the type of source you’re discussing (a book, an article, a short work, etc.).  See if you can correctly capitalize and format the following titles:

  1. Web article: people are happier when they spend time in the outdoors
  2. Short story from a magazine: once upon a time: a tale of lost love
  3. Book title: overcoming adversity in life
  4. Newspaper article: two people apprehended in attempt to rob a bank

See the Appendix, Results for the “Check Your Understanding” Activities, for answers.


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The Word on College Reading and Writing Copyright © by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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