A guide comparing Associated Press style and Chicago style for editors, writers, teachers, students, word nerds, and anyone else who gives a dollar sign, ampersand, exclamation point, and pound sign about style.

Titles: Quote Marks, Italics, Underlining, or Naked?

Remember the days when your manual typewriter didn't have a key for the number 1, so you used a lowercase L instead? And to type an exclamation point, you typed an apostrophe first, backspaced, and then typed a period beneath it? Sure you do, punk. (Clarification: I'm not old; my high school was poor. We pasted our newspaper dummies together with wax and made type changes with a dull razor.)

Well, we don't type that way anymore, because technology has blessed us with 1s and !s on our keyboards. Likewise, because we are capable of rendering type in italics, you underline titles only when writing them by hand or using software which doesn't italicize. As long as you remember that underlining equals italics and to never underline when you can italicize, you're good.

As for enclosing titles in quotation marks or italicizing them, you can get pretty far by following the "Big/heavy equals italics" (e.g., books) and "Small/light equals quotes" (e.g., poems) generalizations, but Associated Press style doesn't italicize nothin' and Chicago style has layers of specificity and if-then statements. Fun!

Because the Associated Press stylebook is not indexed and the manual for Chicago style covers title style in several sections (and intermixed with name style and capitalization style), some title style may have been inadvertently omitted due to oblivion on my part. Please send me a note if any oversight makes you twitch.

Following is the breakdown between AP style and Chicago style. This is intended as a quick rundown or cheat sheet; for examples of each, please refer to the pages and sections indicated. "Neither" means that the usual headline-style (or title-style) caps still apply, but the title/name is naked as far as quotes and italics are concerned. (Capitalization for titles will be covered in a future blog entry.)

To view or download the slightly prettier (but not by much) chart version, go here:

Titles: Quote Marks, Italics, Underlining, or Naked?

Update (5/15/11): I converted the list into a table which I hope is easier on the eyes (and requires less scrolling). Search by using Command-F or Ctrl-F.

Update (11/17/12): Reflects 2012 changes in AP style.

Titles for . . . AP Chicago
Albums
Quotes (p. 62)
Italics (8.192)
Almanacs
Neither (p. 62)
Apps
Neither (p. 62), e.g., Facebook, Foursquare
Italics (8.193)
Art
Quotes (p. 62)
Italics (8.193)
Articles
Quotes (8.175)
Bible
Neither (p. 62)
Blog entries
Quotes (8.187)
Blogs
Italics (8.187)
Books
Quotes (p. 62) — but the Bible and catalogs of reference material use neither
Italics (8.166) — but book series and editions use neither (8.174)
Cartoons
Italics (8.194)
Catalogs
Neither (p. 62)
Chapters
Quotes (8.175)
Classical music, nicknames
Quotes (p. 63)

Classical music, identified by sequence
Neither (p. 63)

Columns (in periodicals)
Neither (8.175, 14.205)
Comic strips
Italics (8.194)
Computer games and computer-game apps
Quotes (p. 62), e.g., "Farmville"
Computer software
Neither for software such as WordPerfect or Windows (p. 62)
Conferences
Neither (8.69) — unless it has "status," then use quotes
Departments (in periodicals)
Neither (8.175, 14.202)
Dictionaries
Neither (p. 62)
Directories
Neither (p. 62)
Drawings
Italics (8.193)
Encyclopedias
Neither (p. 62)
Essays
Quotes (8.175)
Exhibitions (large)
Neither (8.195)
Exhibitions (small)
Italics (8.195)
Fairs (large)
Neither (8.195)
Fairs (small)
Italics (8.195)
Gazetteers
Neither (p. 62)
Handbooks
Neither (p. 62)
Journals
Italics (8.166) — unless part of name of award, organization, etc. (8.170)
Lecture series
Neither (8.86)
Lectures (individual)
Quotes (p. 62)
Quotes (8.86)
Magazines
Neither (p. 159)
Italics (8.166) — unless part of name of award, organization, etc. (8.170)
Meetings
Neither (8.69) — unless it has "status," then use quotes
Movies
Quotes (p. 62)
Italics (8.185)
Newspapers
Italics (8.166) — unless part of name of award, organization, etc. (8.170)
Operas
Quotes (p. 62)
Italics (8.189) — for long musical compositions or instrumental works, see 8.189-8.190
Paintings
Italics (8.193)
Pamphlets
Italics (8.193)
Periodicals
Italics (8.166), unless part of name of award, organization, etc. (8.170)
Photographs
Italics (8.193)
Plays
Quotes (p. 62)
Italics (8.181)
Podcast episodes
Quotes (8.187)
Podcasts
Italics (8.187)
Poems
Quotes (p. 62)
Quotes (8.179) — unless book length, then treated as book (italics)
Radio episodes (in series)
Quotes (8.185)
Radio programs and series
Quotes (p. 62)
Italics (8.185)
Reports
Italics (8.193)
Short stories
Quotes (8.175)
Songs
Quotes (p. 62)
Quotes (8.189)
Speeches
Quotes (p. 62)
Neither (8.75) — unless it has "status," then use quotes.
Statues
Italics (8.193)
Television episodes (in series)
Quotes (8.185)
Television programs and series
Quotes (p. 62)
Italics (8.185)
Unpublished works
Quotes (8.184)
Video blogs
Italics (8.187)
Video-blog episodes
Quotes (8.187)
Web pages and sections
Quotes (8.186)
Websites
Neither (8.186)

When it gets confusing, just remember these golden rules of copyediting: (1) Whatever you choose, be consistent; (2) but beware of having a tin ear; and (3) it's all arbitrary, so go for clarity and sustainability.

Good luck.

3 comments:

  1. This was awesome! Thank you soooo much! I've been going back and forth trying to figure it out forever.
    Have a Sparkling Day!
    Rebecca Rose

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm late to the feast -- but I just found this today, and it's very useful. Thanks so much -- Sandy

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hysterical! I do believe I have a MUCH greater understanding of all this just by reading the first few paragraphs.

    ReplyDelete