Have you ever written an essay and then question yourself whether you have used italics appropriately in the titles? Is the use of italics something that worries you to the extent of avoiding them?
Well, you are not alone because many students do not fully understand how to apply them in their essays, particularly in the titles.
This article will explain when to use italics in your essay and how to appropriately write them. However, before exploring this, it is important to note whether essay titles are italicized or not.
Are Essay Titles Italicized?
The answer to this question depends on the type of words in the title. Essay titles can be italicized. In case you have a title that includes names of vehicles, large works, television series, or movies, you should use italics when mentioning them.
Essay titles can be italicized if the words represent a literary work or are a quote that needs to be represented in italics. Essay titles can also be italicized if all the words or some of them represent certain non-English wordings that are not in the English dictionary.
Literary words are works of literature. Titles of plays, books, and other forms of works of art should also be italicized within the title to set them apart from the surrounding text.
When writing an essay, you will be required by your instructor to format it academically in either APA or MLA since the two formats are the most commonly used.
Instances When to Italicize Titles in an Essay
1. When Words Need to Be Emphasized Within the Title
As we have noted, italics are used to set a word or phrase apart from other text within the title.
When the word or phrase is set apart, it means that the reader will easily notice it and even prioritize its meaning compared to the rest of the words.
Therefore, if you have a word or words that need to be emphasized within the title of your essay, you can italicize them.
There are some words or phrases that you will include in your title and you wish your readers to take note of them.
They can be part of the essay’s keywords that you might explain from a different perspective to that of the readers.
However, it should be noted that emphasizing words using italics within the title is not commonly used in academic writing.
2. When including Publication Names in your Title
Imagine you are writing an essay in which you are required to conduct an in-depth analysis of an article or case study within a publication.
In this case, you may need to include the name of the publication within your title to instantly communicate to the reader what the paper is all about. Such publication names include:
3. Standalone Works in the Essay Title
When you are including the title of a standalone work like complete plays and books, you should italicize them. Titles of sacred texts should also be italicized when they are included in the title of your essay. This is especially the case when analyzing the complete works in your essay.
For example, if your essay is analyzing a specific Harry Potter book, the title will appear like this: Elements of Style in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
When it comes to places like Romeo and Juliet, your title will look like this: Elements of Style in Romeo and Juliet.
For sacred or religious texts like the King James Version of the Bible, the title may appear like this: Understanding the Meaning from the Language used in King James Bible.
4. When Writing Titles of Creative Works
In case you are required or find yourself in a situation where you need to include the title of creative work in the title of your essay, you should italicize it. This should only include titles of standalone creative works. Such include:
5. When Using Foreign and Unfamiliar Words
In case you have an essay title that requires you to include a foreign word, you should italicize it. The same case applies to words that you are not familiar with or words that are technical.
6. When Referring to Legal Cases
When you are writing an essay that explores or analyzes a legal case, you should include the name of the case within the title of your essay to separate it from the rest of the text. For example, “Analyzing the Outcomes of the Case of Brown v. Board of Education”.
How to Write Titles in an APA Essay?
Titles in an APA essay will utilize a unique system of headings that help in classifying and separating the different sections in your essay. They take levels. Note that the aforementioned instances of italicization will still apply on the different levels.
The first level or the main topic of your APA essay will be centered, boldface, and with a title-case heading.
Remember to capitalize the first word, all the principle words, and the last word in the title.
Avoid capitalizing prepositions (“above”, “on”, “to”, “below”, etc.), articles (“an”, “a”, and “the”), and coordinating conjunctions (“for”, “nor”, “and”, “but”, “so”, “or”, and “yet”).
The paragraph will be left justified with the first sentence indented.
The second level of the title should not be centered on your paper.
It should be flush left or it should begin at the left side of your page with no indentation.
It should also be typed in bold with a title case heading. The paragraph will also start from the left side of your paper with an indentation.
The third level of your titles should also begin at the left side of your page with no indentation. It should be boldface with a title case heading. However, the third level of your title should be italicized. The paragraph begins from the left side of your page with an indentation.
The fourth level of your titles should be indented, boldface, and with a title-case heading. This level is not italicized. However, it ends with a period because the text of the paragraph that follows should continue on the same line as that of the title level.
The fifth level of an APA title should also be indented, boldface, and with a title-case heading. However, this level is italicized. It also ends with a period since the next paragraph will start on the same line.
How to Write Titles for MLA Essay
Titles in an MLA essay have different levels with the first level being centered, boldface, and with a title, case heading. The second level should be written in the same way as the first level with the only difference being that the second level is flushed to the left side of the paper.
The third level should begin at the left side of your page with no indentation.
It should be boldface with a title case heading.
The third level of your title should be italicized.
The fourth level should be indented, boldface, and with a title, case heading.
This level is not italicized. However, it ends with a period.
The fifth level should also be indented, boldface, and with a title, case heading. This level is italicized. It also ends with a period.
In MLA, you should also capitalize the first word, all the principle words, and the last word in the title. Don’t capitalize prepositions, articles, and coordinating conjunctions.
Read our guide on how to write good essay titles to get further insight and tips that will help you sharpen your writing skills.
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