Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles

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MOS:TITLE and MOS:TITLES redirect here. This page is an explication of various sections of the Manual of Style and its subpages as they pertain to titles of works.
For people's honorific and occupational titles, see WP Manual of Style § Titles of people, and (for more details) WP:Manual of Style/Biographies § Honorific titles.
For complete guidance on the handling of titles of works, see further detail at the following page (until the material is better consolidated):

This part of the Manual of Style covers the format or style used for titles of works of art or artifice, such as whether the title is placed in italics or quotation marks, and capitalized.

Italics[edit]

Italic type (text like this, marked up with pairs of apostrophes as ''text like this'') should be used for the following types of names and titles, or abbreviations thereof:

Major works[edit]

  • Audio albums (musical or spoken-word)
  • Books, multi-volume works (e.g. encyclopedias), and booklets
  • Cantatas and motets
  • Comic books, comic strips, graphic novels and manga
  • Computer and video games (but not other software)
  • Court case names, but not case citation or law report details included with the case name: Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
  • Named exhibitions (artistic, historical, scientific, educational, cultural, literary, etc. – generally hosted by, or part of, an existing institution such as a museum or gallery), but not large-scale exhibition events or individual exhibits
  • Films (including short films) and documentaries
  • Musicals, and other self-contained pieces of musical theatre
  • Operas, operettas, oratorios
  • Named orchestral works: Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler, known as the Resurrection Symphony ...
  • Paintings, sculptures and other works of visual art with a title rather than a name, see WP:VAMOS for more detail
  • Periodicals (newspapers, journals, magazines)
  • Plays (including published screenplays and teleplays)
  • Long or epic poems
  • Syndicated columns and other features republished regularly by others
  • Television and radio programs, specials, shows, series and serials

Actual medium of publication or presentation is not a factor; a video feature only released on video tape, disc or the Internet is considered a "film" for these purposes, and likewise an e-book is a book, a webcomic is remains comic strip, a music album only available from the artist on a limited-edition USB drive is a real album, a TV series only available via streaming services is still a series, etc.

Minor works (any specifically-titled subdivisions of italicized major works) are given in quotation marks. (See WP:Manual of Style/Text formatting§ When not to use italics for details.)

Website titles may or may not be italicized depending on the type of site and what kind of content it features. Online magazines, newspapers, and news sites with original content should generally be italicized (Salon.com or The Huffington Post). Online encyclopedias and dictionaries should also be italicized (Scholarpedia or Merriam-Webster Online). Other types of websites should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

These cases are well-established conventions recognized in most style guides. Do not apply italics to other categories or instances because you feel they are creative or artful (e.g. game or sport moves, logical arguments, "artisanal" products, schools of practice or thought, Internet memes, aphorisms etc.).

Similar cases[edit]

Some similar cases that are not titles of works include:

Link formatting[edit]

To display text in italics, enclose it in double apostrophes.

If the title is also a wikilink but only part of it should be italicized, use italics around or inside a piped link to properly display the title:

  • Casablanca is produced by ''[[Casablanca (film)|Casablanca]]'' or [[Casablanca (film)|''Casablanca'']].
Without piping, this wikilink would display – and incorrectly italicize – the disambiguation term, which is not part of the film title.

Italicizing Wikipedia article titles[edit]

If the title of a Wikipedia article requires italicization, there are two options:

Quotation marks[edit]

Shortcuts:
"MOS:QUOTEMARK" redirects here. For the Manual of Style in relation to the use of quotation marks generally, see WP:Manual of Style § Quotation marks.

Minor works[edit]

Italics are generally used only for titles of longer works. Titles of shorter works should be enclosed in double quotation marks ("text like this"). It particularly applies to works that exist as a smaller part of a larger work. Examples of titles which are quoted but not italicized:

  • Articles, essays, papers, or conference presentation notes (stand-alone or in a collected larger work): "The Dos and Don'ts of Dating Online" is an article by Phil "Dr. Phil" McGraw on his advice site.
  • Chapters of a longer work (they may be labeled alternatively, e.g. sections, parts, or "books" within an actual book, etc.)
  • Entries in a reference work (dictionary, encyclopedia, etc.)
  • Single episodes or plot arcs of a television series or other serial audio-visual program: "The Germans" is an episode of the television programme Fawlty Towers
  • Exhibits (specific) within a larger exhibition
  • Leaflets, flyers, circulars, brochures, postcards, instruction sheets, and other ephemeral publications
  • Sections within a periodical, including features, departments, columns (non-syndicated), titled cartoons (not syndicated comic strips)
  • Segments of a play, film, television show, etc., including named acts, skits, scenes, and the like
  • Short poems: "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost
  • Short stories (textual or graphic): "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce
  • Story lines that span multiple issues of a periodical
  • Songs, instrumentals, arias, numbers in a musical, movements of longer musical piece, album tracks, singles, and other short musical compositions: The Beatles' song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" appears on the album also titled Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Speeches, lectures, and conference presentations (only if given a specific title)

This convention also applies to songs, speeches, manuscripts, etc., with no known formal titles but which are conventionally referred to by lines from them as if they were titles: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Whether to italicize or quotation-mark a pamphlet – something on the divide between a booklet or short book on the one hand, and a leaflet or brochure on the other – is left to editorial discretion at the article in question. Anything that has been assigned an ISBN or ISSN should be italicized. Another rule of thumb is that if the work is intended to stand alone and to be kept for later reference, or has content likely to be seen as having merit as a stand-alone work, italicize it. Use quotation marks if the item is entirely ephemeral, trivial, or simply promotional of some other work or product.

Additional markup[edit]

If a title is enclosed in quotation marks, do not include the quotation marks in any additional formatting markup. For example, if a title in quotation marks is the subject of a Wikipedia article and therefore displayed in boldface in the lead section, the quotation marks should not be in boldface because they are not part of the title itself. For further information, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style – Punctuation.

Titles in quotation marks that include (or in unusual cases consist of) something that requires italicization for some other reason than being a title, e.g. a genus and species name, or a foreign-language phrase, or the name of a larger work being referred to, also use the needed italicization, inside the quotation marks: "Ferromagnetic Material in the Eastern Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens" (an academic journal article containing an italicized phrase), and "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" (a song with a German-language title).

Neither[edit]

There are a few cases in which the title should be in neither italics nor quotation marks (though many are capitalized):

  • Scripture of large, well-known religions (see details at § Scripture, below)
  • Legal or constitutional documents: temporary restraining order, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Bill of Rights
  • Traditional games (including sports): hopscotch, blackjack, rugby football, American football
  • Software other than games: iTunes, traceroute, Sobig
  • Commercial products other than media works Cheerios, Sportivo Coupe, Silly Putty
  • World's fairs and other large-scale exhibition events (e.g. with their own grounds and spanning more than one building), and concerts or other large media events: Expo 2010, Cannes Film Festival, Burning Man, Lollapalooza
  • References to speeches (or other works) that are not actual or conventional titles: 137th graduation address, conference keynote speech, an introductory aria
  • Media franchises (including a trilogy or other series of novels or films) or fictional universes, except in a case that contains or consists of the name of an italicized individual work: Tolkien's Middle-earth writings, the Marvel and DC universes in comics, but The Star Wars franchise because Star Wars is the work for which the franchise is named
  • A reference to or description of a work or part of a work when not using its actual or conventional title: State of the Union address, Nixon's Checkers speech,[clarification needed] and use the season finale of Games of Thrones, not the "Season Finale" of Game of Thrones
  • Smaller parts of larger works when they are simply numbered sequentially, and the title appears that way in the work (or a preponderance of reliable sources about the work): To Kill a Mockingbird, Part One, Chapter 1
  • Names (not to be confused with titles) of some works of art such as illuminated manuscripts: the Vienna Dioscorides (which is a copy of De Materia Medica by Dioscorides)
  • Names of well-known archaeological artifacts: the Rosetta Stone
  • Names of buildings

Scripture[edit]

Scriptures of large, well-known religions should not normally be italicized. For example, the Bible, the Quran, the Talmud, the Bhagavad Gita, the Adi Granth, the Book of Mormon, and the Avesta are not italicized. Their constituent parts, such as the Book of Ruth, the New Testament or the Gospel of Matthew are not italicized either, as such titles are generally traditional rather than original ones. However, the titles of specific published versions of sacred texts should be italicized, such as the Authorized King James Version or the New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud.

Many relatively obscure sacred texts are also generally italicized, particularly if the work is not likely to be well-known to the Wikipedia reader, if the work was first published in modern times and has not undergone substantial changes, or if it might be unclear that the title refers to a book. For example, The Urantia Book, The Satanic Bible, Divine Principle, and Gylfaginning should be italicized.

Punctuation[edit]

Place adjacent punctuation outside any italics or quotation marks unless the punctuation is part of the title itself.

  • Johnson spoke often of Huckleberry Finn, his favorite novel. – The comma is not part of the title and therefore is not italicized.
  • George Orwell's well-known essay, "Politics and the English Language", condemned the hypocrisy endemic in political writing and speech. – The commas are not part of the title and are therefore outside the quotation marks.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a 2000 adventure film. – The comma and question mark are both part of the title and are therefore italicized.

Capitalization[edit]

In English, every word except for articles, short coordinating conjunctions, or short prepositions is capitalized, as is the first or last word within the title. Follow the cross-reference above, for more detailed information and examples.

However, for names of Wikipedia articles and of section headings in articles and pages, generally only the first word and all proper names are capitalized in titles. (See WP:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Composition titles for details.)

Translations[edit]

For works originally named in languages other than English, use WP:COMMONNAME to determine whether the original title or an English language version should be used as the article title. For works best known by their title in a language other than English, an English translation of that title may be helpful. If the work is also well known by an English title, give the English translation in parentheses following normal formatting for titles: Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons). Where the work is not known by an English title, give the translation in parentheses without special formatting in sentence case: Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (Weeping, lamenting, worrying, fearing). In references, square brackets are used: Il Giornale dell'Architettura [The journal of architecture].