Do I Italicize Movie Names?

Many writers struggle with knowing whether or not to italicize movie names in their writing. The answer is actually quite simple. If you’re unsure, just follow these simple guidelines.

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apers and books are typically italicized, but movies, television shows, and other types of publications are often not. The reason for this is that such products are usually created as a whole and therefore considered as a unitary work. In addition, movie and television producers often incorporate elements from other works, so it can be difficult to determine what should be italicized. For these reasons, it is generally best to consult with your instructor or publisher to see what their preference is.

What are the rules for italicizing movie titles?

Italicizing titles is a standard practice in publishing. Movies, books, plays, TV shows, periodicals and even CDs are italicized. The rules for italicizing titles are generally pretty straightforward: if the work stands alone as a self-contained unit, we italicize its title; if the work is part of a larger whole, we don’t.

Here are some examples:

Movie titles: The Matrix, Charlie’s Angels
TV show titles: Seinfeld, Law & Order
Book titles: The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird
Album titles: Abbey Road, Abbey Road (The Beatles album)
Play titles: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In the first instance above, The Matrix is a stand-alone movie and its title is therefore italicized; in the second instance, Abbey Road is part of The Beatles’ oeuvre and its title is not italicized. It can be helpful to think of Works with capital W when making this determination — if it’s a Work unto itself, italicize it; if it’s part of another Work (or group of works), don’t.

Why do we need to italicize movie titles?

Italicizing is needed for print and other media to show that something is different from the rest of the text- in this case, to show that a movie title is different from the other words in a sentence. A lot of people don’t italicize movie titles, but if you want to be grammatically correct, you need to.

How do we italicize movie titles?

We italicize movie titles using the italics tag. The
tag renders the enclosed text in italics. For example, Titanic would appear as Titanic.

Italicizing titles is usually seen as unnecessary because most title visibility is achieved by using uppercase and lowercase letters. However, there may be some exceptions where italics could be used for emphasis.

When do we italicize movie titles?

Italics are often used to emphasize a point, to indicate that a word or phrase is special or different from the surrounding text, or to cite works that are being discussed. So when do we italicize movie titles?

The general rule is that self-contained works like movies, books, newspaper articles, and albums should be italicized, but shorter pieces like poems, articles from magazines or journals, and episodes of television shows should be in quotes.

However, there are always exceptions to rules (which is one of the things that makes English so interesting!). In general, you should italicize the titles of long works, like books and movies. Short works, like poems and articles, go in quotation marks. But there are some other special cases.

Here are some common exceptions:

Episodes of TV shows: “The episode ‘Ready, Set, No’ was my favorite of the season.” (Note that the episodes of anthology shows like Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone would be italicized because they stand alone as self-contained works.)
Long sections of work: “I read the section on the Russian Revolution in my history book last night.” (But you would stillitalicize the whole book.)

Italics can also be used for emphasis in writing, but use them sparingly so you don’t overdo it!

Examples of italicizing movie titles

Yes, you can italicize movie titles. In fact, you should italicize movie titles because they are considered long works. Other examples of long works that should be italicized include book titles, novel series, television series, and long musical compositions. On the other hand, short works like article titles and song names should be enclosed in quotation marks.

More examples of italicizing movie titles

Italics are used for large works, names of vehicles, and movie titles. When including a movie title in a paper or report, keep in mind that underlining a title is not an approved MLA format. The only time you should consider underlining or putting a movie title in quotes is if you are writing about a specific analysis of the film. There have been a few cases where italics have been used for movie titles in MLA style, but this is generally frowned upon.

If you’re uncertain about whether or not to italicize something, ask yourself if it would be able to sit on its own on a bookshelf. If the answer is yes, then it’s probably something that can be italicized.


It is generally accepted that movie titles should be italicized. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if you are writing for a publication that adheres to AP style, then you would not italicize the title of a movie. Instead, you would simply put the movie title in quotation marks.

Works Cited

In your “Works Cited” or “References” you only need to list the information that appears on the cover of the work. The general rule is that a work is italicized if it is a standalone work (e.g. book, report, article) or if it is a collection of works (e.g. plays, movies, TV shows, newspaper).

– Book: The Great Gatsby
– Article: “The Power of Myth”
– Report: “Annual Report on Marketing Strategy”
– Play: Hamlet
– Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
– TV Show: Cheers

Further Reading

If you want to know how to punctuate a movie title, or whether you should italicize it, you need to look no further. The answer is simple: if the source is a collection of shorter works (like poems, articles, or short stories), then the title of the source should be italicized. On the other hand, if the source is a single work (like a novel, movie, or song), then the title should be in quotation marks.

Here are some examples of how to punctuate titles of works from different sources:

The title of an article in a magazine: “The Caging of America”
The title of a book: The Catcher in the Rye
The title of a movie: The Dark Knight Rises
The title of a play: Death of a Salesman
The title of a poem: “Fire and Ice”
The title of an essay: “Self-Reliance”

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