Film Title In Essay Mla

It can be confusing to know which titles get italicized and which get quotation marks when citing them in your writing. An easy rule to remember is that short titles and sections of work, such as a chapter title in a book or an episode in a TV show, get quotation marks while larger titles or works, such as a book title or an album, are italicized. However, which one you use may depend on the style and format of writing you are following.

Why Use Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles?

Italics and quotation marks are generally used to set a composition title apart from the text surrounding it. For example, if you were writing the sentence "I read The Cat in the Hat," it wouldn't necessarily be clear what the title was, or even that there was a title at all.

So, italics and quotation marks make the title stand out. A sentence such as "I read The Cat in the Hat" or "I read "The Cat in the Hat" today" is a lot clearer.

Should you set off a title with italics or should you set it off with quotation marks? Well, there are rules for that.

Rules for Using Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles

There are several different writing style guides: The Modern Language Association (MLA) is the style generally used in arts and humanities papers; the American Psychological Association (APA) is used for social sciences; the Associated Press Stylebook (AP) is commonly used in magazines, newspapers and the internet; and the Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago), one of the most well-known formats, is followed in a wide variety of disciplines from publishing to science. 

Each of the style guides have their own rules when it comes to formatting titles. AP style is one of the simpler styles to remember, as it does not use italics in composition titles at all.

All formats except AP recommend the following titles should be in italics:

  • Ballets, Operas, Symphonies
  • Cartoons
  • Comic strips
  • Exhibitions at a museum
  • Paintings
  • Sculptures
  • Ships
  • Aircraft and spacecraft
  • Books
  • Plays
  • Pamphlets
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Journals
  • Films
  • Albums

All formats except APA recommend that the following titles should be in quotation marks:

  • Book chapters
  • Names of video games
  • Single episodes of TV and radio shows
  • Unpublished writing such as manuscripts or lectures
  • Album tracks or singles
  • Podcast episodes
  • Short stories and poems

APA differs from other formats in that it does not use either quotation marks or italics for titles of shorter works, such as essays that are in collections, lectures or journal articles. These shorter works are formatted in regular type.

MLA and Chicago, while agreeing on most citation styles, diverge on some points. In MLA the titles of online databases should be italicized; Chicago style says to set those in regular type. MLA says that all websites should be italicized while Chicago style says they should be in regular type.

When Not to Use Italics or Quotation Marks

There are certain titles of things that should not be in italics or quotation marks. The following titles should always be set in regular type:

  • Scriptures of major religions
  • Constitutional documents
  • Legal documents
  • Traditional games (such as football, hopscotch or blackjack)
  • Software
  • Commercial products (such as Cocoa Puffs)
  • Awards
  • Political documents
  • Names of artifacts
  • Names of buildings

Print and Online Style Differences

Italicizing is easy to do on the computer, but not practical when you are hand writing something. In such cases, underlining is still used and is the same as writing a title in italics.

When formatting titles for the web, be aware that you should go with whatever style is most visually appealing. Online formats tend to be less formal in style compared to print materials. Styling for the web is about attracting visitors to the site so make the title stand out without looking clunky in order to get more attention.

Determine What to Use

By practicing the above rules for using italics and quotation marks you will find that it will become easier to determine what you should use. If you are uncertain about what to use, ask yourself if the title of a work appears inside a larger body of work or if it can stand alone. If the title belongs inside a larger body of work, use quotation marks. If the title is for a body of work that stands alone, it should be in italics. And remember that consistency is key, whichever style you choose.

To learn about which words should be capitalized in a title read YourDictionary's article on Rules for Capitalization in Titles.

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Using Italics and Quotation Marks in Titles

By YourDictionary

It can be confusing to know which titles get italicized and which get quotation marks when citing them in your writing. An easy rule to remember is that short titles and sections of work, such as a chapter title in a book or an episode in a TV show, get quotation marks while larger titles or works, such as a book title or an album, are italicized. However, which one you use may depend on the style and format of writing you are following.

In citing film and other media, use the citation form for the format in which you watched the work being cited. For example:

If you watched the film Casablanca on DVD and wish to cite it, use the citation format for DVD (not the film original).

If you watched Casablanca in a movie theater, use citation format for film.

If you are citing a documentary or program that you watched on DVD/videotape, but which was originally broadcast on television, use the citation format for DVD/videotape.

If you are citing a trailer for a theatrical movie that you watched on the internet, use the citation format for online resources.

Include the following elements in the following order. Include as much information as is available from the media package or other sources. If you are citing the contribution of a particular performer or the director of a work, you may choose to include the person's name first in the citation (last name, first name)

You may include other data that seem pertinent, such as writer of screenplay or writer of work upon which the film is based, depending on the focus of your research.

DVD, Video or Film Title (italics)

Series Title (no italics or quotation marks)

Director/Filmmaker OR Personal Producer OR Corporate/Institutional Producer.

Other individuals responsible for the work (e.g., writer) if relevant

Key Actors or other Key Performers.

If the work being cited is the original format (i.e. if you've viewed the film in a theater), cite the Studio Name OR Production Company followed by production date ORoriginal release date (If known)

Format (if the version you're citing is video or DVD)

Distributor (i.e. DVD or video distributor)

Distribution Date (separated from the distributor by a comma)

Examples:

Film:

Citizen Kane. Dir. Orson Welles. Perfs. Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten. RKO Radio Pictures, 1941.

Fahrenheit 9/11. Dir. Michael Moore. Lions Gate Films, 2006.

Film, citing a contributor first:

Kazan, Elia, dir. On the Waterfront. Perfs. Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint. Columbia Pictures Corporation, 1954.

Karloff, Boris, perf. Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Perfs. Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clark. Universal Pictures, 1931.

Gore, Al, perf. An Inconvenient Truth. Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Lawrence Bender Productions, 2006.

Rozsa, Miklos, comp. Spellbound. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perfs. Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck. United Artists, 1945.

DVD/Videorecording:

Breathless (À Bout de Souffle). Dir. Jean-Luc Godard. Perfs. Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Liliane David. 1960. DVD. Criterion Collection, 2007.

Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Perfs. Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clark. 1931. DVD. Universal Pictures, 2006.

America's Least Wanted . Prod. Rebecca Haggerty, Susan Levine, Jamie McClelland, Adele Rice and Jaime Yassin. Videocassette. Paper Tiger TV, 1995.

Story of Change. Prod. UNICEF. Filmed and edited by, Byron Blunt. Videocassette. Nairobi, Kenya: UNICEF, 1998.

DVD/Videorecording, citing a contributor first:

Schrader, Paul, writer. Taxi Driver. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perfs. Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster. 1976. DVD. Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1999.

Brooks, Albert, perf. Taxi Driver. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perfs. Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster. 1976. DVD. Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1999.

Wexler, Haskell, cinematographer. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? . Dir. Mike Nichols. Perfs. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis. 1966. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2006.

Faulkner, William, screenplay. To Have and Have Not. Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Dir. Howard Hawks. Perfs. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall. 1945. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2003.

Hemingway, Ernest. To Have and Have Not. Screenplay by William Faulkner. Dir. Howard Hawks. Perfs. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall. 1945. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2003.

DVD/Videorecording, citing additional information about the work or the particular release.

Metropolis. Dir. Fritz Lang. Perfs. Gustav Fröhlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel. 1926. DVD. Restored authorized edition; digitally remastered. Kino International Corporation, 2002.

Man with a Movie Camera (Chelovek s kinoapparatom). Dir. Dziga Vertov. Original music composed and performed by the Alloy Orchestra. 1929. DVD. Kino International Corporation, 1997.

Mindwalk. Based on the book "The Turning Point" by Fritjof Capra. Dir. Bernt Amadeus Capra. Perfs. Liv Ullman, Sam Waterston, John Heard, Ione Skye. DVD Paramount Pictures, 2000.

DVD/Videorecording, citing supplementary material contained on disc:

"Making of the Mutuals" (supplmentary visual essay by Sam Gill). The Chaplin Mutuals. Volume 3. DVD. Image Entertainment, 1995.

"The Early Sound Era" (supplementary material on DVD release of The Jazz Singer). 2006 <cite the date the supplement was produced, if known>. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2007.

DVD/Videorecording of a work originally broadcast on television

Summer of Love. American Experience. Prod. and dir., Gail Dolgin & Vicente Franco. PBS. WGBH in association with KQED. DVD PBS Home Video, 2007.

Medicine at the Crossroads. Prod. 13/WNET and BBC TV. DVD. PBS Home Video, 1993.

"Bringing up Buster." Arrested Development (Season 1). Perfs. Alia Shawkat, David Cross, Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor. DVD. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2006.

"Ku Klux Klan: The Invisible Empire." CBS Reports. Prod. and dir. David Lowe. Correspondent: Charles Kuralt. 1982. DVD. Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2002.

Capote, Truman. "A Christmas Memory." Hallmark Hall of Fame. Dir. Glenn Jordan. Perf. Patty Duke, Piper Laurie, Jeffrey DeMunn. 1997. DVD. Lions Gate, 2000.

DVD/Videorecording of a series originally broadcast on television. Citing installment in series:
  • Title of the episode in quotation marks.
  • Name of the series or program in italics.
  • Director, producer, other significant individuals involved
  • Publication medium (e.g. DVD).
  • Distributor, followed by date of the DVD (NOT the original broadcast)

    "The House We Live In." Race, The Power of an Illusion. Prod., Christine Herbes-Sommers; series prod., Larry Adelman. DVD. California Newsreel, 2003.

    Scorsese, Martin, Exec. Prod. "Feel like going home." Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues. DVD. Seattle, WA: Vulcan Productions, Inc.; Berlin: Road Movies Filmproduktion Gmbh, 2003.

    "When Things Get Tough." The War. Dir. Ken Burns. Prod. Florentine Films and WETA Washington D.C. DVD. PBS Home Video; Paramount Home Entertainment, 2007.

    "Ain't Scared of your Jails, 1960-1961." Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 3. Prod. WGBH Boston; Blackhawk Films, 1986. DVD. PBS Video, 2006.

    Single Performance, Music Videos, and Other Single Work as part of longer DVD, Video, or Film

    "Official War Film W.F. 13." World War II Films. Prod. US Office of War Information. 1943. DVD. Earthstation1.com, 2007.
    or, if emphasizing issuing agency:

    US Office of War Information. "Official War Film W.F. 13." World War II Films. 1943. DVD. Earthstation1.com, 2007.

    Cage, John. "Chess Serenade: For Piano." The Works for Piano. John Cage. Vol. 7. DVD. Mode Productions, 2006

    Calloway, Cab. "Hi-de-ho." Best of Jazz and Blues. 1933. DVD. Kino on Video, c2001.

    The Chemical Brothers. The Work of Director Michel Gondry. DVD. Palm Pictures, 2003.

    "Lindy Hop (1937)." Perf, Mama Lu Parks' Jazz Dancers. Dance Black America. Videocassette. Dance Horizons Video, 1990.

    or, if emphasizing the performers:

    Mama Lu Parks' Jazz Dancers. "Lindy Hop (1937)." Dance Black America. Videocassette. Dance Horizons Video, 1990.

  • Television and Radio

    Include the following elements in the following order.

    Title of episode or segment (if appropriate. In quotes)

    Title of program (italics)

    Title of series (if appropriate. No quotes or underline)

    Producer, Director, Performers, Writer (if known. Inclusion and order depends on emphasis)

    Network

    Local Affiliate and the city

    Date of Broadcast

    Examples :

    Woody Allen: A Documentary. American Masters. Dir. and prod., Robert Weide. PBS. WNET, Channel 13. 10 Feb. 2012.
    Racism 101. Prod. Thomas Lennon. PBS. KQED, San Francisco. 5 Oct. 1988.

    White House Prayer Breakfast. Al Gore (Introduction), Bill Clinton (Address), Rev. Gerald Mann (Closing prayer), Rabbi Alan Cohen (Interview)." C-SPAN, Washington, D.C. 11 Sept. 1998.

    "Torture." Narr. Scott Pelley. Sixty Minutes. CBS. WCBS, New York. 30 March 2008.

    "War Against Iraq Begins." Narr. Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel. Nightline. ABC. KGO, San Francisco, 16 Jan. 1991.

    "Car Crash on I-80." Ten O'clock News. KNBC, Los Angeles. 16 Jan. 1991.

    "The Arsenal of Democracy." The Great Depression; 7. Prod. Blackside, Inc.; Exec Prod Henry Hampton. WGBH, Boston. 1 Mar. 1993.

    Afghanistan: the Great Game. NPR, Washington, D.C. 8 Feb. 1980.

    "Mumia Abu Jamal: 15th Anniversary of His Arrest." Democracy Now. Pacifica. KPFA-FM, Berkeley, CA. 9 Dec. 1996.

    "Trash of the Titans." The Simpsons, Season 9. Dir. Jim Reardon, Mark Kirkland, et al. Voices: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer. CBS. KPIX, San Francisco. 10 September 2006.

    "Emerging Tigers." Narr. Ress Jones. Prod. John Hawke. Asian Business Report. PBS. WEFT, New York. 15 August 1990.

    For advertisements and other broadcasts without a fixed programming schedule, you may chose to include the time of the broadcast:

    Levi Strauss Co. Levi Dockers Advertisement. Aired 10:35pm. CBS. KPIX, San Francisco. 5 August 1999.

    Broadcast Interviews

    Order and punctuation:

    Interviewee (last name first). Interviewer. Title of the program. Network. Local Affiliate, City. Date of Broadcast.

    Examples:

    Clinton, Bill. Interview with Larry King. Larry King Live. CNN. 24 June 2004.

    Cain, Bruce E. Interview. Ten O'Clock News. CBS. KPIX, San Francisco. 10 October 2007.

    Depp, Johnny. Interview with James Lipton. Inside the Actors Studio. PBS. KQED, San Francisco. 7 April 2008.

    Web Other Online Media

    Author's Last Name, First Name OR Corporate/Institutional Author Name <if known>

    Title of Document or File

    Document date OR date of last revision

    Medium (e.g. Online video clip)

    Title of larger web site in which clip is located

    Name of hosting library or agency (if appropriate).

    Access Date

    URL <web address>

    Examples:

    Lucasfilm, Ltd. "Star Wars Trailer." 05 November 1999. Online video clip. Star Wars Official Site. Accessed on 02 April 2008. <http://starwars.com/episode-i/news/trailer/>

    "Daughter Turns Dad In." CNN Video. Online video clip. CNN.com Accessed on 04 April 2008. <http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/crime/2008/04/02/dnt.oh.drunk.driver.dad.wnwo>

    "Free Speech Movement: The Cartop Ralley, Oct. 1-2, 1964." 05 August 1999. Online audio clip. UC Berkeley Library Social Activism Sound Recording Project: The Free Speech Movement and Its Legacy. University of California at Berkeley. Library, Media Resources Center. Accessed on 02 April 2008. <http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/VideoTest/pacificabd0016.02e.xdm>

    "Gene Map of Brain Offers Hope for Alzheimer's, Autism." 29 Nov. 2006. Webcast. The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. PBS. KQED, San Francisco. Accessed on 02 December 2006

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