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Writing A Book Title In Your Essay – The Right Way

09 Mar 2022

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📃APA Style Essay: Book Titles

✒️APA Style: The Name of The Author

📒MLA Style: Citing a Book Title

✏️Chicago Style: Book Title

📑Various Types of Titles

🖊️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!

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Writing essays

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').

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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

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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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English Program

Essay Writing Essentials

  • FORMAT: Type papers with a 12 pt. font, double-space, number pages, and proofread carefully; correctness counts.
  • While you are encouraged to use your natural voice, avoid highly colloquial usage , such as "The ending blew my mind" or "Her awesome sense of humorâ?¦" Avoid passive construction, such as "irony can be seen inâ?¦" or "a definite freedom was evidenced inâ?¦," which makes writing feel stiff and pompous. Instead, write, "the reference to her brother's saintliness is ironic" or "the seemingly random association of images suggests freedom."
  • The convention in writing about literature is to discuss actions from a work in present tense, as if they were happening right now: "Joyce creates a melancholic mood with images of night and isolation." Or, "When Marlow first sees Kurtz, heâ?¦."
  • Use transitional words or phrases to connect parts of your argument (e.g., therefore, furthermore, nevertheless, consequently, however, similarly, by contrast, rather, instead, as a result, on the other hand, for example, etc.). These are SIGNPOSTS that help the reader follow the thread of your argument. Remember, these words can begin a sentence or can connect two independent clauses using the following punctuation: "Woolf's writing can be highly sarcastic and playful; however, in To The Lighthouse , the tone is somber and elegiac." Instead of "So" or "Also," use more formal phrases: "It is clear, then, that Marlow lies to himself on at least one occasion"; "This passage confirms that Marlow isn't honest with himself."
  • Introduce the text you're writing about in the beginning of your essay by mentioning the author's full name and the complete title of the work. Titles of books should be underlined or put in italics . (Titles of stories, essays and poems are in "quotation marks.") Refer to the text specifically as a novel, story, essay, memoir, or poem, depending on what it is.
  • In subsequent references to the author, use his or her last name. If the title is very long and you are making numerous references to it, you can refer to it by a shortened version. i.e., "A Perfect Day For Banana Fish" can become "Banana Fish."
  • Don't begin by quoting the assignment sheet or indicating which topic you're writing about. Your essay should stand alone, quite independent of the assignment sheet.
  • Don't begin with vast generalizations like "Within every human being there are unique thoughts and feelings that no other person has ever experienced before." Or, "Color symbolism is found in all great pieces of literature." These "from the dawn of time" statements point to a lack of focus or (public enemy number one) a vague thesis.
  • In most cases, it's best to state your main idea - your thesis - in the first or second paragraph, so that your reader knows right away what it is that you're going to argue.
  • Don't evaluate the quality of the writing ("Faulkner's use of symbolism, narration, word choice, and characterization made this a powerful novel."); analyze and interpret instead. You're not writing a review, where evaluation is appropriate; you're writing criticism (which isn't necessarily critical, but analytic). Avoid comments such as "I likedâ?¦" or "I was confused byâ?¦." Don't refer to your own process of investigation. Instead of writing "I couldn't find a beginning, climax, end in â??The Mark On The Wall,'" (which tells your readers about you instead of the text), you might write "'The Mark On The Wall' dispenses with the traditional beginning-climax-end story structure."
  • Avoid plot summary at all costs !! It's sometimes hard to resist the desire to rehash a novel's plot. However, remember, in academic writing it is assumed that your audience is familiar with the text. Make sure you're writing an argument, not simply a plot summary.
  • Evidence. Evidence. Evidence . It's fine to make a point, such as "the first memoir seems rambling and aimless, while the second is tightly structured." But then you must provide examples that support your points. Continue on with, "For example, in â??Reminiscences', Woolf discusses her mother in several places, sometimes repeating herself, sometimes contradicting her previous statements. Twice Woolf tells us that her motherâ?¦.."
  • Determine what the text says. Don't read your own assumptions into the text, as in: "The speaker must be a man because women wouldn't act so insensitively." Instead, you might say, "The speaker seems to be male because the cursing and the news of the war was more likely the province of men during the early 20 th Century." Instead of a statement such as, "The author shows the pride Americans feel in their freedom," you can more accurately say, "The author is writing about Americans who are proud of their freedom."
  • style – is it formal? journalistic? colloquial, stream of consciousness, etc.?
  • voice – written in first, second or third person (and why)
  • imagery – what metaphors and similes are used?
  • tone – humorous, intimate, sarcastic, conversational, etc.?
  • mood – melancholic, ecstatic, hyper, suspenseful?
  • language – poetic? lyrical? scientific? pseudo-scientific?
  • structure – is it loose and rambling? Tightly structured? Is there a climax and denouement? How are the parts of the story connected?
  • plot and character development – what do we know of the "story" and of the characters?
  • symbolism – sometimes a cigar is only a cigar, and sometimes not.
  • point of view – how do different characters see things? What's the author's view?
  • setting – is place important? How is it described? What role does it play?
  • Use quotations to support your argument or interpretation. (Note that writers make statements , not quotes ; something isn't a "quote" until you've copied it out, so you never say, "The author quotes." Instead you say, "The author says..." or "the author writesâ?¦"
  • Don't expect quotations to make your point for you. Rather, use your own language to make your argument; use the quote as evidence that will support what you have to say. Before or after the quote, connect it to your argument using your own words: eg., As Gilbert and Gubar argue in The Madwoman in the Attic .
  • Don't incorporate the page number of a quotation as part of your sentence: "On page 116 the author makes reference..." because you don't want the page number to be the emphasis of the sentence. Write, rather, "The author makes reference to..."
  • If everyone is writing on the same text, cite the passage you want to quote by giving the page number in parentheses after it: "She told Christmas about the graves" (248). Note where the period is.
  • If you use more than three exact words from your source, you must put them in quotation marks.
  • If, within those quotation marks, you must use other quotation marks to indicate direct speech, the author's own quoting, or to refer to the title of the story, use single quotation marks: "For example, in â??Reminiscences', Woolf discusses her mother in several places."
  • If you add words to a quotation, put brackets around them; if you omit words, use ellipses to indicate them. Example: Brunvand states: "some individuals [who retell urban legends] make a point of learning everyâ?¦tale" (78).
  • Periods and commas go inside quotation marks; semicolons and colons go outside.
The faithful drudging child the child at the oak desk whose penmanship, hard work, style will win her prizes becomes a woman with a mission, not to win prizes but to change the laws of history. (23)
  • If you're using several texts, then footnote the quotation, providing the name of the author, title of the book, publishing information, and page number.
  • In APA style, provide the author's last name, the year of publication and page (line in case of verse) numbers in the text, parenthetically, and include a complete reference in the WORKS CITED list at the end. Punctuation comes after the citation. Example: "Is it possible that dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes, 1999, 184)?
  • CONCLUSIONS: Conclusions should stress the importance of the thesis, give the essay a sense of completeness, and leave a final impression on the reader. An effective conclusion might answer the question "So what?" It might synthesize (not summarize) the points. Or it might echo the introduction, underscoring the larger significance of your thesis (now that we understand its complexity).

Most important: If you know all this, great. If it seems overwhelming, don't despair. You don't have to write papers alone. The Writing Center is open from morning to evening with tutors trained to help you compose and edit. (x-8409) Bell Tower 1512.

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How to Write the Title of a Book in an Essay

write a book title in essay

Ah, titles. The seemingly simple thing with a lot of pitfalls. For instance, APA requires source titles to be put in sentence case, while MLA requires title case for them. However, when it comes to writing the title of a book in an essay within the body, both styles agree on title case, still disagreeing on minute details of title case implementation. And style guides were introduced as writing help , to make our life easier! Go figure.

If you have abandoned all hopes of figuring out how to properly write a book title in an essay, this post is your beacon. Let’s unscramble this mess.

Writing a Book Title in an Essay: General Rules

First of all, let’s see where APA, MLA, and other formats agree on what to do when writing titles in the body of your essay:

  • The titles of self-contained and independent books are put in italics: novels, short stories, collections of poems, long stand-alone poems, plays: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Shakespeare’s Macbeth , John Donne’s Holy Sonnets , etc.
  • The titles of parts within a complete work should be put in “quotes”: titles of chapters in the books, titles of acts or scenes in a play, title of a short poem or a song inside the collection. For example: “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience collection, “The Knight Bus” from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban .
  • Sometimes, the title of a book can be put within another title (for example, a monograph about a novel or a poem). In this case, if the title mentioned within the title is usually put in italics, you should use italics as well “Unbearable Weight of Authenticity: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Theory of ‘Touristic Reading’.” If the title mentioned within the title is usually put in quotes, you should put it inside the single quotes instead of the double quotes. For example, “Individualism in O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’.”
  • Titles of both stand-alone books and the parts within a complete work should be put in title case: “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” from The Poems of Emily Dickinson .

Unfortunately, capitalization rules to implement the title case vary widely from style guide to style guide, so from here you should be taking one of the possible paths depending on the style required for your essay.

No time for that? Let us take care of stylistic nuances for you while you are busy doing something more important. Our editors are well-versed in all styles of academic writing and will format your paper impeccably.

However, if you are set on mastering the title case in all the flavors it comes in, let’s waste no more time!

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

MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. MLA has published its first handbook in 1977 and regularly updates it with the current edition being the 8th one released in 2016. The MLA recommendations given there have become the default in humanities: English studies, linguistics, literature, cultural and media studies.

According to MLA, in the title you should always capitalize:

  • - the first and the last word in the title
  • - proper names
  • - principal words: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs
  • - subordinating conjunctions (because, although, if, unless)

You should NOT capitalize in the title:

  • - articles (unless they come first or last). For example, in the title The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “The” is capitalized because it is the first word, but “a” isn’t capitalized, because it’s an article in the middle of a title
  • - prepositions (unless they come first or last)
  • - coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
  • - to in infinitives

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

APA stands for the American Psychological Association, and the first edition of its Publication Manual was released back in 1954. Since then, it has been updated several times, with the current version being the 7th edition published in 2019. APA style and format has become the most popular and widespread in academia, especially in social sciences.

According to APA, you should capitalize:

  • - major words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns)
  • - all words of four letters and more (besides, between, except, among, from)
  • - words after the em dash, colon, semicolon, etc., even if it’s an article or a short preposition, for example Queen Mab; A Philosophical Poem; With Notes
  • - second parts of hyphenated words (Cease-Fire, Sit-In, Make-Believe)

You should NOT capitalize minor words, which are:

  • - articles in the middle of the title
  • - conjunctions of three letters or fewer
  • - prepositions of three letters or fewer

How to Write a Title of a Book in an Essay: Chicago Style

First published in 1906, The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English by the University of Chicago. Its current edition is the 17th one, published in 2017. Although not as popular as APA or MLA, Chicago (sometimes also called CMOS or CMS) is still a very influential style widely used in academia, especially in Business, History, and the Fine Arts.

For the title case, Chicago recommends the capitalization of all words, with the exception of:

  • - all conjunctions (regardless of their length)
  • - all prepositions (regardless of their length)

That’s refreshingly straightforward. Moreover, The Chicago Manual of Style is as relaxed as to advise, “Break a rule when it doesn't work.”

How about that? If coping with an essay on your own isn’t working out, it’s time you asked for help!

Elissa Smart

Elissa Smart

Elissa Smart is an omnipotent demiurge behind PaperHelp's blog. Driven by seething creativity, not only she helps students with particular research and writing requests, but also finds the energy to share her extensive expertise via blog posts. A Barclay College graduate, Elissa puts her BA in Psychology & Family Studies and MA in Transformational Leadership degrees to good use, being of benefit to readers who are willing to learn from accomplished experts. She can also talk about boating on the Lake Superior by the hour, roots for Atlanta Falcons, and loves to sing in thick woods.

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How to Write a Book Name in an Essay

Last Updated: January 27, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Danielle Blinka is a Writer, Editor, Podcaster, Improv Performer, and Artist currently living in Houston, TX. She also has experience teaching English and writing to others. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Master of Arts in English with a concentration in writing, and Master of Public Administration from Lamar 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 57,464 times. Learn more...

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

title of a novel in a 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.
  • ↑ 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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title of a novel in a essay

Writing Various Types of Titles

How to write a book title in an essay: mla style, how to write a book title in an essay: apa style, how to write a title of a book in an essay: chicago style, should we underline or italicize book titles, how to put a book title in an essay according to citation styles, why is using the correct format so important.

title of a novel in a essay

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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 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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title of a novel in a essay

Best Tips on How to Title an Essay

title of a novel in a essay

How to Make a Good Title for an Essay

The success of an essay heavily depends on its title. This may not come as a surprise given that the essay title is the first aspect to provide the reader with a sneak peek into the text. It piques our interest to read the paper in the first place and gives us a preview of what to expect from the author.

Our research paper writing help prepared a thorough guide on how to title an essay. Here you may find tips and tricks for developing an effective APA or MLA essay title. So, let's dive straight into the article for more exciting details!

Essay Title Format

During your essay writing process, ensure you know the stylistic requirements before beginning an essay. Knowing the format you need to employ is crucial because different style manuals may have varying requirements. Mostly, you could have used an APA or MLA essay title format. Our service, where you can buy essay online , explains these two in more detail below.

Essay Title MLA

If you're required to create an essay title MLA format, check whether your instructor wants you to make a separate cover page. If not, put a heading at the beginning of your work that includes your name, the name of your professor, the course ID, and, lastly, the date.

On the other hand, if you must present a cover page for your essay title MLA, then you need to include the following:

  • The name of the college
  • The title of your paper
  • The subtitle of your paper, if applicable
  • Your first and last name
  • Your teacher or professor's name
  • The class name or course number
  • The date the paper is due

The formatting instructions are as follows:

  • Double-spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • Size 12 font
  • Apart from very short terms, each word's initial letter should be capitalized. The initial word, however, must always be uppercase.
  • The title page shouldn't include a header with the page numbers.

Essay Title APA

Having discussed the MLA format essay title, let's explore what the APA student title page includes:

  • The paper title
  • Author names
  • Institutional affiliation where the author carried out the study
  • Name and number of the course
  • Professor name
  • Page number

The title of an essay format instructions:

  • double-spaced
  • 1" margins
  • 12-point Times New Roman
  • According to APA, your title should be targeted and brief, without unnecessary words or abbreviations

How to Choose a Good Title for an Essay: Important Qualities

Nobody will read a dull headline. Your title should grab your audience's attention and encourage them to read the rest of the work. As it is one of the initial things readers see, having a strong attention grabber is essential when writing an essay from scratch. To fully understand how to come up with a title for essay that is strong and exciting, let's consider a few following factors:

Employ a Catchy Hook - Usually, the title of essay format follows a similar basic structure, especially if they are used for an academic article. The hook serves as a unique component that attracts the reader. It's a captivating statement informing others about the topic of the essay. You can also explore several types of sentences with examples that can help you develop the ideal hook structure.

Consider Topic Keywords - These are essential terms or expressions pertinent to your subject and help your reader understand the focus and body of your article. These focus keywords should serve as a brief, one- to two-word article summary. You can choose some terms from the research topic your instructor gave you, but after your thesis statement is formed, this is where you should hunt for ideas.

Use a Colon - A colon is frequently used in academic titles to separate concepts and sentences. The standard procedure is to place a clever remark or brief quotation before the colon. Although these beginning words offer flavor, they can be overdone. Because of this, some individuals find using the colon to be repugnant. Therefore be careful not to misuse this method.

Ask a Question - To write essay title that is strong, consider asking a question. But, use it with caution because posing a question will make your tone less formal. As long as the question is suitably phrased to meet the subject of your essay, feel free to employ it. Always check to see if the title question still applies to your points in the essay's body. The thesis statement should be appropriately reflected as well.

Find Inspirational Quotes - There is no formula for selecting essay titles from the textual content. You may get playful and choose any quotation, proverb, or catchphrase that applies to your particular publication and works as a title. You may also create a great essay title using well-known expressions or idioms. Doing so will help your readers relate to and feel more comfortable discussing your subject.

How to Title an Essay headline

Here are other rules for how to create a good title:

  • Title every section of writing: In the process of writing, create interesting subheadings to give your paragraphs an identity. Also, they make your text look ordered and clear. 
  • The title must bear the theme of the text: choose a title that summarizes the essay. 
  • Capitalize all words with certain exceptions: Capitalize the first letter of every word in the title, but do not capitalize pronouns, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions.
  • Avoid underlining the title: Since topics come in boldface, underlining it will amount to overemphasis. Some authorities say that if you must underline it, do not bolden it.
  • Review the final version of the title: Do not forget to do a quick review of the final version of the title—check for grammar, structure, spelling and so on. Re-read it to determine if the title has given justice to the essay. Confirm if the topic is catchy enough to attract your reader’s attention. 
  • When using a colon in your title, follow the rules: Since we are dealing with punctuation rules here, let us talk about the colon – when you have two eye-catching topics, separate them with a colon.

Student’s Guide on How to Come Up with a Title for an Essay

Titling an essay can be easy, but there are a few core principles to be taken into account. The following tips will help you stay on track and avoid any common pitfalls.

Essay Goes First

Never start with a title! If you write it before the rest of the text, it will be based on it, and it should be vice versa. Writing an essay before choosing a heading will give you a clear understanding of what should make sense to the reader. Re-read the finished paper several times to decide on the title. The last thing to create is a title - such strategy will give more time to spend on crafting an essay outline, conducting research, or writing the paper itself.

How to Title an Essay, Complete Guide 2

What are you writing about? What is the style of your paper, and is it an academic essay or a free-form essay like a narrative essay? If the topic of your essay is “Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?” your title should not be humorous; it should be strict and to the point.

If your topic is “Why do people like watching funny cat videos?”, feel free to craft a funny title. Determine the tone of your essay and base your title on it—in consideration with the essay’s topic.

The tone can be:

  • Serious - “The implications of global warming”
  • Funny - “How cats and dogs love their masters”
  • Amiable - “Ways to fight depression”
  • Persuasive - “Why positive thinking is a must have skill for every person”
  • Informative - “Ten rules for creating a chemical at home”

The main goal of a title is to name its paper. There is no need to tell an entire story in the title, or provide any useless details. Sum up your paper in a few words! Another way to do this is to sum up your thesis statement, as it represents the main idea of your essay. Take your thesis and squeeze it into 3-4 words. Imagine that you are creating a title for your favourite newspaper or a slogan for Coca-Cola.

Don’t use fancy words! Take 2-3 main words (keywords), put them together, and stop wasting your time. Avoid jargon and abbreviations.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that can help any student and young writer reap benefits. While working on a title, detect the words related to the central idea of the paper. Type the words into the search field of Google and add the word “quote.” A search engine will show numerous web pages with in-text quotations that could be useful. Select the fragment you like. It is possible to learn how to make a creative title for an essay in this way.

Discover several more tips from experts:

  • Never forget the “What,” “Who,” “When,” “How,” “Why,” and “Where” questions (if you start with one of these questions, your title has a chance of getting noticed);
  • Come up with an unexpected image not related to the selected topic;
  • Sometimes, starting with a lie increases the chances of a title being able to catch an eye;
  • Review our catchy essay title examples.

Need Some Help With Your Essay's Title?

Feel free to contact EssayPro and we will provide you with a writing help at a moment’s notice. With the years of essay writing experience, titling becomes second nature, so you no longer need to worry about having a catchy headline on your paper.

Essay Title Examples: Bad vs Good

The strongest essay titles condense lengthy essays into concise statements. When wondering how to make an essay title, think carefully about your stylistic choices and essay format to produce an excellent one. Our dissertation help has provided essay title examples to let you understand the difference between good and bad ones more vividly.

bad good essay titles

Bad Essay Title Examples

As we discussed how to create an essay title and the specific elements that go into it, you should have a clear idea of how important it is to craft a strong title. In contrast, first, look at weak essay title ideas that can break your paper. This should serve as an example of why your heading should not be like this:

Ex 1: ' How Television Has Changed Our World ' - too vast and not informative

Ex 2: 'The Ara Pacis Augustae' - unclear for those who don't know Latin

Ex 3: 'The Most Poisonous Frog' - does not provide any insight

Ex 4: 'A Brief History of Subcultures and How They Manifest Themselves in a Constantly Changing Socio-Economic Environment' - too long and complicated

Ex 5: 'The Little Mermaid 29 Years Later: Selling a Harmful Sexist Message Through a Naughty Image' - inappropriate language

Good Essay Title Examples

Now that you know what a bad essay title looks like, let's explore good essay title examples as their substitutes. Examine the following essay title format styles that will give you a clear understanding.

Ex 1: ' The Electronic Babysitter: A Social History of Uses of the Television' - gives an exact description of what the essay will be about

Ex 2: ' The Modern Historical Significance of the Ara Pacis Augustae to the City of Rome' - here, the reader can understand what they will be reading about

Ex 3: ' A Deadly Beauty: The Evolution of Skin Coloration and Toxicity of the Poisonous Dart Frog' - clear, informative, and on-point.

Ex 4: 'Reconsidering Counterculture in Contemporary Society' - informative enough and brief

Ex 5: 'The Projection of Gender Stereotypes in The Little Mermaid' - employs appropriate language

Catchy Essay Title Ideas

You now understand that long, complicated headlines do not accurately convey the paper's main idea. Take ample time to consider the word choice before tilting your work. How do you create good essay titles? Think creatively and with common sense. But meanwhile, for your convenience, we compiled title ideas for essays you may use as inspiration.

Persuasive Essay Titles

  • Why Receiving College Education is Important: Examining Long-term Benefits
  • Face-to-Face Courses Cannot Be Replaced by Online Learning
  • An MBA Does Not Ensure Corporate Success.
  • Every Company Should Adopt a Green Strategy.
  • Energy Drinks Represent a Lucrative Market Segment.
  • Aircraft, Excess Weight Charges, Need to be Prohibited.
  • Patients' Life Shouldn't be Put to Death by Nurses.
  • Google Glasses May Increase the Number of Auto Accidents.
  • All of the Conventional Malls Will Soon be Replaced By Online Shopping
  • How Do Team-building Exercises Contribute to the Development of Inventions?
  • Illegal immigrants are entitled to remain in the US.

Academic Essay Titles

  • Several English Dialects: The Link Between Various Cultures
  • Instagram: A social media innovation
  • Is it possible to reverse drug-induced brain damage, and if so, how?
  • What the Future Holds for Humans in the Light of Artificial Intelligence
  • The Story of Two Nations after Decades of Conflict: North and South Korea
  • Video Games and Their Learning Context in Schools
  • Free Wi-Fi: Strategies for Enhancing the City's Economy

Strong Research Paper Titles

  • Digital World Cybersecurity
  • E-business to Provide New Paths for Booksellers
  • Outsourcing for Large Businesses
  • Preparing for College Costs for High School Students
  • What News Reporters Should Do in the Digital Age and How to Do It: Examples
  • The Transformative Power of Music: How Heavy Metal Impacted My Life

Best Essay Titles for College Students

  • The Possible Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence for Humans
  • The Potential for Time Travel in Virtual Reality
  • What Role Has Mathematics Played in Human History?
  • How to Succeed in the Real Estate Industry
  • E-Commerce: An Empire of Virtual Businesses Worth Millions of Dollars
  • How to Achieve Financial Independence in the Digital Age Without Opening a Real Business

More Creative Titles for Essays

  • When getting rewarded for their grades, would kids do better left alone?
  • How Does Fake News Impact the Mainstream press?
  • Homelessness in Contemporary Society: A Dilemma
  • What News Reporters' Best Job Is in the Digital Age and How to Uphold It
  • Elon Musk: Brilliant Mind or Insane Person?
  • Positives and Negatives of Employing a Smoker
  • Do We Employ the Appropriate Student Success Metrics?

Professional Academic Help

Now that you know how to make a good title for an essay, you should also understand that you should approach the task as a process. While composing your essay title, you must condense your whole thesis and point of discussion into a single, concise, yet powerful sentence. If you have time before your deadline, give it some thought and don't hurry.

Don't forget that you can always rely on our professional academic assistance, whether you need a reflection paper , ideas for a strong essay title, or any other academic papers. Consider the following words - write my essay for me - magic keywords for delegating your most complex tasks to our skilled writers!

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How to Write Book Titles in an Essay

Jana sosnowski.

Student on laptop in library with pile of books next to her

Essays in literature often refer to the title of the book referenced. A reference to the book title may occur only once, but it gives the reader of your essay information about the subject of your discussion.

Explore this article

1 mla style.

In an MLA-formatted essay, the title of a book should appear in italics. In the case of a handwritten essay, the title of the book should be underlined. Novels, textbooks and anthologies should all be italicized, while portions of these books, including chapters, short stories and poems, are noted within quotes.

2 APA Style

In an essay formatted in APA style, the title of a book also appears in italics. Additionally, any words in the title that are four letters or longer should be capitalized. Italicization is also required for edited collections of short stories and essays, movies, television series, documentaries and albums.

  • 1 Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Writing in Literature: Formatting
  • 2 Purdue University Online Writing Lab: APA Formatting and Style Guide: In-Text Citations: The Basics

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.

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How to Write a Book Title in an Essay – Italicize or Underline?

Jan 11, 2020

When creating an essay – either serious analytical work or an expression of your views on a specific topic – you can’t avoid mentioning titles of other publications, as it is one of the most potent instruments a student can possess. Judge for yourself: your arguments can be marked as irrelevant by a meticulous professor, but not when they are articulated by classic authors, scientists, other influential figures in their works.

What is more, an important paper simply wouldn’t be accepted if, when reading it, your professor doesn’t notice a substantial research work conducted. You automatically increase the “weight” of your paper when demonstrating your knowledge in the area. Therefore, you can’t go without mentioning books, articles, and other authoritative materials is indisputable; another question is how to do it correctly.

Years ago, there were not so many ways to emphasize what you write, as printing machines only were able to underline the text. As for now, you have a wide variety of editing instruments, be it bold, italics , or “quotation marks,” but how should one use them correctly in his writing? In this short guide we will discuss how to write titles of works in an essay, including book titles.

How Book Titles Should Be Written

There is no definitive guide that would certainly solve the neverending dispute of whether one should italicize or quote the name of the book in an essay. Still, the generally accepted AMA (American Medical Association) and CMOS (The Chicago Manual of Style) formatting styles bring clarity to the topic. You can confidently use them as your guiding light in formatting thickets, unless, of course, your education facility has its own established directions – then the solution is to simply follow them instead of reading this article.

title of a novel in a essay

A general rule you should memorize is that titles of long works, such as books or newspapers, should be italicized, while titles of short works – articles, book chapters, poems, etc. – should be taken into quotation marks. That’s how you use this rule in practice:

✅ I’ve recently read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Empire and want to share my opinion on it.

🔍 Here we emphasize the name of the book with italics.

✅ John Keats has many outstanding poems, but my favorite must be “Ode to a Nightingale.”

🔍 As soon as the poem is short and is only one of the numerous works the poet has written, we include its title in quotation marks.

Want to have your essay done quickly? Go order our assistance instead of delving into thickets of formatting.

Would you like an essay written for you from scratch?

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Punctuation in a Book Title

Some complications might appear when other punctuation characters come into play. But don’t be scared! The rules are simple and reasonable – and indeed easy to remember.

There are book titles that include punctuation marks. For example:

  • I have just finished reading Very Good, Jeeves!  
  • Did you manage to get a copy of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

As you can see, these titles should be italicized completely, including all signs of punctuation they include. The same applies to the names of poems, articles, and book chapters – they should be all inclosed in quotation marks.

Another situation is when we use a question mark or exclamation mark near the book title which it does not belong to. In such cases, we simply treat it separately from the book title and do not italicize it. On practice, it looks like this:

✅ Should young people, as a part of their educational process, explore War and Peace ?

✅ The most influential book that determined the evolution of the science-fiction genre was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Exceptions to Remember

When two or more book titles meet each other in a sentence, the more important one, which is usually larger, will win the honor to be italicized instead of being put inside quotation marks. This is especially true if you are talking about a book series.

✅ The three laws of robotics appeared as a concept inside the Robots series written by Isaac Azimov, and are presented in 6 prominent novels – “I, Robot,” “The Positronic Man,” “The Caves of Steel,” “The Naked Sun,” “The Robots of Dawn,” and “Robots and Empire.”

As you can see, the name of the series outweighs in importance the name of each book belonging to it – therefore, the rule meets its exception, and the name of each book is put inside quotation marks as the name of the series is outlined with italics.

Another example would be having a book title and its chapter title in one sentence:

✅ In Treasure Island we get the first mention of Jim hearing the voice of Israel Hands in chapter 11, “What I Heard in the Apple Barrel.”

Here is everything you will need to rock your essay and make it both literate and pleasant to read. Remembering these simple principles will allow you to address any writing material, be it an article or a novel hexalogy, without fear of being mistaken. And in case you have no time to deal with nuts and bolts of a perfect essay, our writers can always come to rescue you. Good luck with your studying!

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