How to Cite a Book Title in APA, MLA or Chicago

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When writing a book title in the text, not the references, most academic style manuals require title-style capitalization and italics. For example, they would all format the book title Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the same way. However, each style manual follows slightly different rules for handling hyphenated terms and subtitles. For details, read the guide below.

Below are the guidelines on how to style a book title following MLA, APA, or Chicago.

  • MLA 9
    • Use title-style capitalization when writing book titles in the text: capitalize the first and last words in the title and any other major words.
    • Italicize book titles.
    • Capitalize the second word in a compound hyphenated term in a title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
      • Verify the dictionary styling of any hyphenated compound terms that begin with a prefix (anti-, post-, semi-, etc.). If the dictionary styles the word without a hyphen, lowercase the second word that follows the hyphenated prefix in the book title.
        • For example, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary styles the word “rewrite” without a hyphen. So, in the book title Live Free: Re-write Your Story, lowercase “write” after the prefix “re.”
    • For subtitles, add a colon between a title and subtitle, even if there is no colon on the book’s cover or title page. Also, use title-style capitalization for the subtitle. For example, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.
      • Though you don’t typically capitalize articles in titles, do capitalize an article that starts a subtitle. In the above example, capitalize “The” since it starts the subtitle.
  • APA 7
    • Use title case when writing book titles in the text. In title case in APA format, capitalize the following:
      • The first word of the title
      • The first word of a subtitle
      • The first word after a colon, em dash, or other end punctuation in a heading
      • Major words
      • Any words of four letters or more
    • Italicize book titles.
    • Capitalize the second word in a compound hyphenated term in a title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
    • For subtitles, capitalize the first word of a subtitle, even if it is a short, minor word. For example, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.
  • Chicago
    • Use title case, or “headline-style,” when writing book titles in the text. In title case in Chicago format, capitalize the following:
      • The first and last words in titles and subtitles
      • Major words
    • In title case in Chicago format, lowercase the following:
      • Articles
      • Prepositions, even if they are four letters or more
      • to (even as part of an infinitive verb)
      • Coordinating conjunctions
    • Italicize book titles.
    • Capitalize the second word in a compound hyphenated term in a title unless it is an article, preposition, or coordinating conjunction.
      • If the first term in the hyphenated compound term is a prefix (anti-, post-, semi-, etc.), lowercase the second word that follows the hyphenated prefix in the book title unless it is a proper noun or proper adjective.
        • For example, in the book title Live Free: Re-write Your Story, lowercase “write” after the prefix “re.”
      • If the title includes a hyphenated spelled-out number or fraction, capitalize the second element (e.g., Catch Twenty-Two).

If a book title appears in an article title, you style it the same way as described above. So for example, if the article you are citing is called: “Why Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the best book in the Harry Potter series,” you would instead style this as: “Why Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the best book in the Harry Potter series.”

For more info on formatting rules for citation styles, visit our guides listed below:

MLA guide

APA guide

Chicago guide


 

 

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