Formatting Titles of Texts in MLA Style

General Rules

These rules apply to titles in the text, in parenthetical citations, and in Works Cited page entries. A title appears the same way no matter where in a document it appears. No titles are underlined. No titles get both quotation marks and italics.

Formatting Titles

In general, titles of short works go in quotation marks and titles of long works are italicized. (Note: underlining is not used in any style.) "Short works" does not necessarily refer to lengths of the works, but to whether or not they are contained within another work. For example, "long works" like books often contain "short works" like chapters. Albums (long) contain songs (short). Websites (long) contain Web pages (short). 

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (book)

“House Mothers and Haunted Daughters: Shirley Jackson and Female Gothic” (journal article)

Capitalizing Titles

Capitalize the first letter of the major words of titles. Minor words, such as articles, prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions, are not capitalized unless they are the first word of a title or subtitle.

“Why Boys Don’t Play with Dolls” (a short essay) 

In the Heat of the Night (a film)

The rule: Titles of short works in quotation marks and titles of long works italicized

 Quotation marks 


Any short work contained within a longer work

Any long work, may contain a short work within it

  • Poems
  • Newspaper Articles
  • Short Stories
  • Magazine Articles
  • Web Pages
  • Songs
  • Chapters
  • TV Show Episodes
  • Book
  • Website
  • Play
  • Film
  • Newspaper
  • TV Show
  • Magazine
  • Album