How do I present titles of poems, novels, etc. in my essay?

From LitWiki

Generally, when including the titles of selections within an essay, there are two main guidelines to follow.

The first is to use quotation marks for shorter pieces. Shorter pieces include, but are not limited to poems, short stories, songs, and articles. [1] Below are some examples.

  • Short story: "The Harmony of the Spheres," “Indian Camp,” “Babylon Revisited”
  • Poem: "To His Coy Mistress," “Ulysses.” “Daddy”
  • Television show: "Star Trek", “Battlestar Galactica”
  • Song: "Ants Marching", “Stairway to Heaven,” “Come Sail Away”

The second is to italicize or underline longer pieces. Longer pieces include, but are not limited to novels, films, and newspapers. Both italics and underlining are appropriate for longer writings. However, the same style should be used consistently throughout the essay. [2] Below are some examples.

  • Novel: Perfume, Moby Dick, The Satanic Verses
  • Feature film: Blade Runner, The Day After Tomorrow, Star Wars
  • Television series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Long poem (epic): Odyssey, Beowulf, Paradise Lost
  • Play: Hamlet, Oedipus Rex, Death of a Salesman

There are a few exceptions to these two guidelines.

  • Visual artwork (paintings, sculptures, drawings, etc.) is always italicized. (Ex. Van Gogh's Starry Night)
  • Traditional religious works are not italicized, underlined, or put in quotation marks. (Ex. The Bible)

The titles of novellas or long poems, like Tolstay’s The Death of Ivan Ilyitch, Kafka’s Metamorophsis, or Poe’s Rape of the Lock, can be tricky, so checking a secondary source may become necessary. If you are unsure about which category a particular selection falls under, look it up and see how critics have done it.



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