With so many writing styles out there, it can be difficult to remember how to format titles of sources in your paper, reference list and in text citations. What makes this even more challenging is the fact that title treatment can depend on where you are including it in your paper, as well as what writing style you are using. Let’s go over the title formatting rules that apply to the most common styles.

How to format titles in APA style

  • Within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source.
  • Note that short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives and adverbs are lower case
    • Example: Revolution in the Revolution
  • Always capitalize the first word after a colon.
    • Example: The Glorious Cause: Patriotism in the American Revolution
  • Italicize the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, etc.
    • Examples: The Wizard of OzSeinfeld
  • Titles of shorter works such as journal articles, articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles are put in quotation marks.
    • Example: “The Frogger”
  • Within your reference list:
    • Capitalize all major words in journal titles
    • For books, chapters, journal articles, or webpages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, and the first word after any colons or dashes
    • Always capitalize proper nouns
    • Italicize titles of longer works such as books and journals
    • Do not italicize, underline, or put in quotation marks the titles of shorter works


How to format titles in MLA style

  • Title format rules in MLA apply to both the citations and the inclusion of source titles within the text.
  • A title is generally placed in quotation marks if it is a part of a larger work. Examples include TV show episodes, song titles, journal articles and webpages.
  • Italics are used for larger sources, or containers, such as books, newspapers, journals and websites.
  • MLA uses title-style capitalization. Capitalize the first word, last word, and all major words including those that follow hyphens in compound words. Do not capitalize prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, the ‘to’ in infinitives, or articles when they fall in the middle of a title.
    • Example: “How Immersion Helps to Learn a Language” (journal article)
    • Example: Design in Business (book)


How to format titles in Harvard*

  • For books, articles or webpages, capitalize only the first word of a title or subtitle, the first word after a colon or dash, and proper nouns.
  • Capitalize all major words in journal titles.
  • Titles of large works, such as journals and books, are italicized.
    • Example: Gender and Society (journal)
    • Example: Anthology of contemporary short fiction (book)
  • Titles of short works, such as journal articles and webpages, are put in single quotation marks.
    • Example: ‘Successful teaching placements in secondary schools’ (journal article)

 *Note that these rules pertain to Harvard-Cite Them Right style specifically. Please confirm with your instructor that these rules apply to your paper.


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