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MLA Citations (9th ed.): Title of Source

This guide will help you format your paper and cite resources according to MLA citation style.

Title Basics

The title is usually prominently displayed in the work, often near the author. If the title has a subtitle, include it after the main title.

Titles and subtitles are given in the entry in full exactly as they are found in the source, except that capitalization and punctuation are standardized. 

A title is placed in quotation marks if the source is part of a larger work. A title is italicized (or underlined if italics are unavailable) if the source is self-contained independent. 

Title Capitalization and Punctuation

For titles and subtitles, capitalize the first word, the last word, and all principal words, including those that follow hyphens in compound terms. 

When an untitled poem is known by its first line or when a short untitled message is identified in the works cited list by its full text, reproduce the line exactly as it appears in the source.

Use a colon and a space to separate title and subtitle, unless the title ends in a question mark or exclamation point. Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle. 

Book Title

A book is a whole unto itself. This means that the title is set in italics.

Here is an example:

Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. Oxford UP, 2011.

Collection of Essays, Stories, or Poems Title

A collection of essays, stories, or poems by various authors is also a whole unto itself. This means this title is also in italics.

Here is an example:

Baron, Sabrina Alcorn, et al., editors. Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of Massachusetts P / Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007.

Essay, Story, or Poem Title

An essay, story, or poem in a collection is part of a larger whole. This means the title should be placed in quotation marks. 

Here is an example:

Dewar, James A., and Peng Hwa Ang. "The Cultural Consequences of Printing and the Internet." Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, edited by Sabrina Alcorn Baron et al., U of Massachusetts P / Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007, pp. 365-77.

BUT when a work that is normally independent (such as a novel or play) appears in a collection, the work's title remains in italics.

Here is an example:

Euripides. The Trojan Women. Ten Plays, translated by Paul Roche, New American Library, 1998, pp. 457-512.

Periodical Titles

A periodical is a journal, magazine, or newspaper. The title of a periodical should be set in italics, and the title of an article in the periodical goes in quotation marks. 

Here is an example:

Goldman, Anne. "Questions of Transport: Reading Primo Levi Reading Dante." The Georgia Review, vol. 64, no. 1, 2010, pp. 69-88.

Different Media Forms

Title of a television series? Italics. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003.

Episode of a television series? Quotation marks. 

"Hush." Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, season 4, episode 10, Mutant Enemy, 1999.

A web site? Italics.

Hollmichel, Stefanie. So Many Books. 2003-13,

A posting or an article at a web site? Quotation marks.

Hollmichel, Stefanie. "The Reading Brain: Differences between Digital and Print." So Many Books, 25 Apr. 2013,

A song or other piece of music on an album? Quotation marks.

Beyoncé. "Pretty Hurts." Beyoncé, Parkwood Entertainment, 2013,

Learn more about styling titles in the MLA Handbook Ninth ed. on pp. 66-73.

Untitled Source

If you have an untitled source, provide a generic description of it, neither italicized nor enclosed in quotation marks, in place of a title. Capitalize the first word of the description and any proper nouns in it. (pp. 121-124)

The description may include the title of another work. See the second example below.

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie. Chair of stained oak. 1897-1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Mackin, Joesph. Review of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, by Alan Jacobs. New York Journal of Books, 2 June 2011,

Tweets and Email Titles

You can identify a short untitled message, such as a tweet, by reproducing its full text, without changes, in place of a title. Enclose the text in quotation marks. (p. 124)

@persiankiwi. "We have report of large street battles in east & west of Tehran now - #Iranelection." Twitter, 23 June 2009, 11:15 a.m.,

To truncate short introductory fragments as well as those that conclude with contextual elements like emojis, use an ellipsis at the end. (p. 133)

Smith, Clint. "Today is Frederick Douglass' 200th birthday...." Twitter, 14 Feb. 2018,

When you document an email message, use a reference to yourself as author if it is an email you received, or indicate by name in the Title element if it is an email sent. (p. 124)

Boyle, Anthony T. E-mail to the author. 21 June 1997.

Zamora, Estelle. E-mail to Penny Kinkaid. 2 May 2018.