“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

The Complete Guide to Italicization

Some time ago, we published a post on italicization in album and song titles. And then Joe sent me a screengrab of a Google search with general italicization questions, so we’re going whole-hog and attempting to write an all-inclusive complete guide to italicization: when do you italicize and when do you avoid it. We’ve covered italicization in song titles and album titles already, so we’re moving on from there.

The Complete Italicization Guide

Don’t Italicize “Article Titles”

Do you italicize articles?

Article titles, like those in magazines or periodicals are put between quotation marks, like “this,” while the name of the magazine or periodical is italicized.

For example: TIME has an article in their latest print run called “Jeb Bush: Next in Line” about the former Florida governor who is considering a 2016 run at the presidency. The article title is put in quotation marks whereas the magazine title, TIME, is in italics.

Use Italics for Websites

Do you italicize websites?

Website titles are italicized, and individual posts on websites are put in quotation marks, like articles.

For example: Slate had a reaction this week’s SNL that declared, “Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton Impression May Get Us Through Election Season.”

Italicize TV Shows

Do you italicize TV shows?

The names of TV shows are italicized, while the titles of each individual episode of a show are put in quotations.

Example: While all of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is amazing, my favorite episode is probably “Kimmy Goes to School!”

Italicize Movie Titles, Too

Do you italicize movie titles?

Movie titles are italicized.

Example: Birdman won most of the awards that it was nominated for at the Academy Awards.

Italicize Book Titles

Do you italicize book titles?

Book titles are italicized, but you probably already knew that. Example: Gone Girl is still probably one of my favorite books that I read in 2014.

The general rule of thumb for italicization is that a larger work is italicized, and pieces within the work are put in quotation marks.

Put “Song Titles” in Quotes

Do you italicize song titles?

Song titles are always surrounded by quotation marks, like *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye,” or “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin.

Use Italics for Album Titles

Do you italicize album titles?

Album titles, on the other hand, are always italicized. For example, while I will openly admit to loving Journey’s power ballad “Faithfully,” I think pretty much every song on their Greatest Hits album should be sung at karaoke nights across the country.

How do you feel about your italicization skills? Do you always remember what titles to italicize and which to leave alone? Let us know in the comments section.


Put your italicization skills to the test. For fifteen minutes, write about one of the following:

  • A serial killer who calls himself “The Reviewer” who murders his favorite actors, writers, and musicians.
  • A detective hunting a serial killer who calls himself “The Reviewer.”

When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section.

About Liz Bureman

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.