Editing for Grammarphobes: What Do I Do About...?


When referring to movies, songs and books in your writing, do you put quotation marks around the titles or should they be italicized? Do you capitalize all of the words and articles in a title? What about a particular song in an opera? How about paintings? Computer games? Television shows? Plays? What if your character is watching Modern Family or playing Rock Band?

Well, it depends what you are writing. 

In all cases, the main words of the title should be capitalized. Do not capitalize articles, such as a, and, the, or an, unless they are the first word of the work’s title. Nothing should appear in full caps but acronyms, such as computer programming languages or association names.


The Catcher in the Rye
Call of Duty
Don Giovanni

If you are contributing to a magazine or newspaper, The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law states to place composition titles in quotation marks. 

However, if you are writing a novel or non-fiction book, put the title in italics, according to The Chicago Manual of Style. I’ve chosen to follow that rule for this blog as well. Parts of books or articles from magazines should be enclosed in quotation marks, but the full work should be in italics.


“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” from Prufrock and Other Observations

The King’s Speech

The Star-Spangled Banner

Grant Wood’s American Gothic

An article in Fire Chief Magazine, “Fast-Response Residential Sprinklers Take the Fire Service Into the Future,” features research on that issue.

The Clash’s "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" appeared on their Combat Rock album.

The song title should not be italicized because it is part of a full album. The Chicago Manual of Style states song titles and short compositions are usually put in quotation marks.

2011 Flash Fiction Fridays Themes

Here are the new themes and deadlines for this year’s "Flash Fiction Fridays."

February 2011, Romance, Due 1/31

March 2011, Comedy, Due 2/28

April 2011, Spring Fever, Due 3/28

May 2011, Parenthood, Due 5/2

June 2011, Escape, Due 5/30

July 2011, Summer, Due 6/27

August 2011, Pets, Due 8/1

September 2011, Getting Schooled, Due 8/29

October 2011, Nightmares, Due 10/3

November 2011, Travel, Due 11/1

December 2011, Winter, Due 11/28

Remember, 500 words or less. Send your submissions to karen@karenberner.com. Put "Flash Fiction Fridays" in the subject line and include a short bio with your story. And please don’t forget to sign up to follow Bibliophilic Blather so we can build our online writing community.

It is going to be a great year.


Annette Lyon said…
A fellow English major AND a fellow word and grammar nerd! Yeehaw!

An old post of mine about italics versus quotation marks still gets more hits than almost any other--it's a confusing topic for a lot of people.
Thanks for reading, Annette.

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