Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles of works

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This part of the Manual of Style covers title formats and style for works of art or artifice, such as capitalization and italics versus quotation marks.


Italic type (text like this, marked up with pairs of apostrophes as ''text like this'') should be used for the following types of names and titles, or abbreviations thereof:

Major works

  • Officially named series of major works: The Lord of the Rings film series (see § Series titles below)
  • Audio albums (musical or spoken-word)
  • Non-generic names of major independent musical compositions (see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (music) § Definitions – italics for more detail):
    • Musicals, operas, operettas and other self-contained pieces of musical theatre
    • Named oratorios, cantatas, motets, orchestral works, and other compositions beyond the scope of a single song or dance:
      • Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler, known as the
        Resurrection Symphony
        (generic vs. non-generic name)
      • Stravinsky's Cantata is a work for soprano, tenor, female choir, and instrumental ensemble ... (unnamed cantata)
      • On an Overgrown Path (Czech: Po zarostlém chodníčku) is a cycle of thirteen piano pieces written by Leoš Janáček ... (named piano composition)
  • Books, multi-volume works (e.g. encyclopedias), and booklets
  • The titles of novellas which have been published as stand-alone books are normally italicized. Novellas which are only published as parts of collections use quotation marks. Quotation marks may also be used to help distinguish a novella from a longer work with the same or similar title.
  • Television and radio programs, specials, shows, series and serials
  • Films (including short films) and documentaries
  • Comic books, comic strips, graphic novels and manga
  • Video games, board games, trading card games
  • Court case names, but not case citation or law report details included with the case name: Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)[a]
  • Named exhibitions (artistic, historical, scientific, educational, cultural, literary, etc. – generally hosted by, or part of, an existing institution such as a museum or gallery), but not large-scale exhibition events
  • Paintings, sculptures and other works of visual art with a title rather than a name (for more detail, see WP:Manual of Style/Visual arts § Article titles)
  • Periodicals (newspapers, journals, magazines)
  • Plays (including published screenplays and teleplays)
  • Long or epic poems: Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Syndicated columns and other features republished regularly by others
  • Titles of doctoral and master's theses and dissertations

The actual medium of publication or presentation is not a factor; a video feature released only on video tape, disc or the Internet is considered a "film" for these purposes, and likewise an e-book is a book, a webcomic is a comic strip, a music album available only from the artist on a limited-edition USB drive is a real album, a TV series available only via streaming services is still a series, etc.

Minor works (any specifically titled subdivisions of italicized major works) are given in quotation marks (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § When not to use italics for details).

Website titles may or may not be italicized in running text depending on the type of site and what kind of content it features. Online magazines, newspapers, and news sites with original content should generally be italicized (

Merriam-Webster Online). Other types of websites should be decided on a case-by-case basis.[b]

These cases are well-established conventions recognized in most style guides. Do not apply italics to other categories or instances because you feel they are creative or artful (e.g. game or sport moves, logical arguments, "artisanal" products, schools of practice or thought, Internet memes, aphorisms, etc.).

Similar cases

Some similar cases that are not titles of works include:

Link formatting

To display text in italics, enclose it in double apostrophes.

If the title is also a wikilink but only part of it should be italicized, use italics around or inside a piped link to properly display the title:

  • Casablanca is produced by ''[[Casablanca (film)|Casablanca]]'' or [[Casablanca (film)|''Casablanca'']].
Without piping, this wikilink would display – and incorrectly italicize – the
term, which is not part of the film title.

Italicizing Wikipedia article titles

If the title of a Wikipedia article requires italicization, there are a few options:

These templates should be placed at the top of the page (but below {{Short description}}, if present).

Quotation marks

Minor works

Italics are generally used only for titles of longer works. Titles of shorter works should be enclosed in double quotation marks ("text like this"). It particularly applies to works that exist as a smaller part of a larger work. Examples of titles which are quoted but not italicized:

  • Articles, essays, papers, or conference presentation notes (stand-alone or in a collected larger work): "The Dos and Don'ts of Dating Online" is an article by Phil McGraw on his advice site.
  • Chapters of a longer work (they may be labeled alternatively, e.g. sections, parts, or "books" within an actual book, etc.)
  • Entries in a reference work (dictionary, encyclopedia, etc.)
  • Single episodes or plot arcs of a television series or other serial audio-visual program: "The Germans" is an episode of the television programme Fawlty Towers
  • Leaflets, flyers, circulars, brochures, postcards, instruction sheets, and other ephemeral publications
  • Sections within a periodical, including features, departments, columns (non-syndicated), titled cartoons (not syndicated comic strips)
  • Segments of a play, film, television show, etc., including named acts, skits, scenes, and the like
  • Short poems: "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost
  • Short stories (textual or graphic): "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce
  • Story lines that span multiple issues of a periodical
  • Songs, instrumentals, arias, numbers in a musical, movements of longer musical piece, album tracks, singles, and other short musical compositions: The Beatles' song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" appears on the album also titled Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Speeches, lectures, and conference presentations (only if given a specific title)

This convention also applies to songs, speeches, manuscripts, etc., with no known formal titles but which are conventionally referred to by lines from them as if they were titles: Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.[d]

The formatting of the title of a pamphlet, which is on the divide between a booklet or short book on the one hand and a leaflet or brochure on the other – specifically, whether to italicize the title or place it within quotation marks – is left to editorial discretion at the article in question. Anything that has been assigned an ISBN or ISSN should be italicized. Another rule of thumb is that if the work is intended to stand alone and to be kept for later reference, or is likely to be seen as having merit as a stand-alone work, italicize it. Use quotation marks if the item is entirely ephemeral, trivial, or simply promotional of some other work or product.

The convention of italicizing non-English words and phrases does not apply to proper names; thus, a title of a short non-English work simply receives quotation marks.

Additional markup

If text is enclosed in quotation marks, do not include the quotation marks in any additional formatting markup. For example, if a title in quotation marks is the subject of a Wikipedia article and therefore displayed in boldface in the

lead section, the quotation marks should not be in boldface because they are not part of the title itself. For further information, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Quotation marks in article openings

Titles in quotation marks that include (or in unusual cases consist of) something that requires italicization for some other reason than being a title, e.g. a genus and species name, or a foreign-language phrase, or the name of a larger work being referred to, also use the needed italicization, inside the quotation marks: "Ferromagnetic Material in the Eastern Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens" (an academic journal article containing an italicized phrase), and "Somebody's Been Reading Dante's Inferno" (a television episode with the title of a major work).


There are cases in which titles should not be in italics nor in quotation marks (though many are capitalized):

Religious texts

Babylonian Talmud

Many relatively obscure spiritual works are also generally italicized, particularly if the work is not likely to be well-known to the Wikipedia reader, if the work was first published in modern times and has not undergone substantial changes, or if it might be unclear that the title refers to a book. For example,

Divine Principle, and Gylfaginning
should be italicized.

Series titles

Descriptive titles for media franchises (including trilogies and other series of novels or films) and fictional universes should not be placed in italics or quotation marks, even when based on a character or feature of the works: the Sherlock Holmes mysteries; Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. Those with official names from the publisher are capitalized (in the singular, not in plural and other genericizing constructions), without quotation marks or italics: Marvel Universe, Marvel Cinematic Universe, and DC Universe, but the Marvel and DC comics universes.

However, the following should be set in italics:

For use of definite and indefinite articles at the start of a series title, apply the same rules as for work titles.


Place adjacent punctuation outside any quotation marks or italics unless the punctuation is part of the title itself.

  • Johnson spoke often of Huckleberry Finn, his favorite novel. – The comma is not part of the title and therefore is not italicized.
  • George Orwell's well-known 1946 essay in Horizon, "Politics and the English Language", condemned the hypocrisy endemic in political writing and speech. – The commas are not part of the title and are therefore outside the quotation marks.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a 2000 comedic film. – The comma and question mark are both part of the title and are therefore italicized.

Where subtitle punctuation is unclear (e.g. because the subtitle is given on a separate line on the cover or a poster), use a colon and a space, not a dash, comma, or other punctuation, to separate the title elements. If there are two subtitles, a dash can be used between the second and third elements.

Capital letters

For Wikipedia article titles that are not the titles of works and are not in foreign languages, the English Wikipedia uses

Women's rights in Haiti

In titles (including subtitles, if any) of English-language works (books, poems, songs, etc.), every word is capitalized except for the

prepositions. This is known as title case. Capitalization of non-English titles varies by language (see below
). Wikipedia normally follows these conventions when referring to such works, whether in the name of an article or within the text.

WP:Citing sources § Citation style permits the use of pre-defined, off-Wikipedia citation styles within Wikipedia, and some of these expect sentence case for certain titles (usually article and chapter titles). Title case should not be imposed on such titles under such a citation style consistently used in an article.

Always capitalized: When using title case, the following words should be capitalized:

Not capitalized: For title case, the words that are not capitalized on Wikipedia (unless they are the first or last word of a title) are:

  • Indefinite and definite articles (a, an, the)
  • Short
    coordinating conjunctions
    (and, but, or, nor ; also for, yet, so when used as conjunctions)
  • Prepositions containing four letters or fewer (as, in, of, on, to, for, from, into, like, over, with, upon, etc.); but see above for instances where these words are not used as prepositions[h]
  • The word to in infinitives

Other styles exist with regard to prepositions, including three- or even two-letter rules in news and entertainment journalism, and many academic publishers call for capitalization of no prepositions at all. These styles are not used on Wikipedia, including for titles of pop-culture or academic works.

Potential exceptions: Apply our five-letter rule (above) for prepositions except when a significant majority of current, reliable sources that are independent of the subject consistently capitalize, in the title of a specific work, a word that is frequently not a preposition, such as "Like" or "Past". Continue to lower-case common four-letter (or shorter) prepositions like "into" and "from".[i]

Hyphenation: The general rule in English is to not capitalize after a hyphen unless what follows the hyphen is itself usually capitalized (e.g. post-Soviet). However, this rule is often ignored in titles of works. Follow the majority usage in independent, reliable sources for any given subject (e.g. The Out-of-Towners but The History of Middle-earth). If neither spelling is clearly dominant in sources, default to lowercase after a hyphen, per the general rule.

Subtitles: Not everything in parentheses (round brackets) is a subtitle. For titles with subtitles or parenthetical phrases, capitalize the first word of each element, even if it would not normally be capitalized, if the element is either:

Do not capitalize a normally lower-cased word:

Incipits: If a work is known by its first line or few words of text (its incipit), this is rendered in sentence case, and will often be the Wikipedia article title. Examples:

Capitalization in foreign-language titles varies, even over time within the same language. Retain the style of the original for modern works. For historical works, follow the dominant usage in modern, English-language, reliable sources. Examples:

Non-English titles should be wrapped in the {{

ISO language code (the shortest available for the language or dialect in question), e.g.: {{lang|fr|Les Liaisons dangereuses}}. This is done inside surrounding quotation marks, for short/minor works. Since 2017, the template automatically italicizes foreign material in a Latin script
, so for minor works |italic=no should be set to prevent the title from being italicized, e.g.: "{{lang|de|italic=no|Hymnus an den heiligen Geist}}". This is because non-English proper names, including titles of minor works, should not be in italics. See the template documentation for complicated markup situations, such as use within a piped link.

Series, franchise, and fictional universe names: See § Series titles.

Indefinite and definite articles

A leading A, An, or The is preserved in the title of a work, including when preceded by a possessive or other construction that would eliminate the article in something other than a title, e.g.: Stephen King's The Stand; however, the is sometimes not part of the title itself, e.g.: the Odyssey, the Los Angeles Times but The New York Times.

The leading article may be dropped when the title is used as a modifier: According to a New York Times article by ....

An indefinite or definite article is capitalized only when at the start of a title, subtitle, or embedded title or subtitle. For example, a book chapter titled "An Examination of The Americans: The Anachronisms in FX's Period Spy Drama" contains three capitalized leading articles (main title "An", embedded title "The", and subtitle "The").


For works originally named in languages other than English, use

to determine whether the original title or an English language version should be used as the article title. For works best known by their title in a language other than English, an English translation of that title may be helpful. If the work is also well known by an English title, give the English translation in parentheses following normal formatting for titles: Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons). Where the work is not known by an English title, give the translation in parentheses without special formatting in sentence case: Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (Weeping, lamenting, worrying, fearing). In references, square brackets are used: Il Giornale dell'Architettura [The journal of architecture].

Typographic effects

Do not attempt (with HTML, Unicode, wikimarkup, inline images, or any other method) to emulate any purely typographic effects used in titles when giving the title in Wikipedia, though an article on a work may also include a note about how it is often styled, e.g. in marketing materials. When giving such a stylization, it is not italicized or placed in quotation marks as a title; this confuses readers, who are apt to think such markup is part of the stylization when it is not.

  • Right: Alien 3 (stylized as ALIEN3) is a 1992 American science-fiction horror film.
  • Wrong: ALIEN3 initially received mixed reviews from critics.

For typographic effects that do not represent actual mathematical or scientific usage, it is preferable to use HTML or wiki markup, not Unicode equivalents, for superscript and subscript. When giving a stylization, do not attempt to mimic specific fonts, font size quirks, uneven letter placement, coloration, letters replaced with images, unusual upper- or lower-casing, or other visual marketing (see WP:Manual of Style/Trademarks, WP:Manual of Style/Capital letters).

If a stylization that readers might look for can be created as an article title,


Semantic markup
and special characters in titles should be preserved when they convey meaning not just decoration, especially if omitting them would make the title difficult to understand or cause it to not copy-paste correctly. Examples:

  • According to section 4.5.28, "The span element", in HTML 5.2: W3C Recommendation
    This should not be done for titles inside Citation Style 1 and Citation Style 2 templates, however, as it will negatively affect COinS metadata output.

Quotation marks simply used as a form of title stylization on a cover are removed. They are retained within a title when reliable sourcing demonstrates they indicate an actual quotation, or

'"}}, respectively, can be used to kern
the double and single quotation marks apart for better readability; this should not be done inside citation templates, just in running prose. Interior quotation marks in an italicized title go within the italics.

Typographic conformity

Generally, the guidelines on typographic conformity in quoted material also apply to titles of works, including normalization of dashes and quotation marks, conversion of various emphasis techniques, cleanup of punctuation, and use of italics for things like scientific names of species.

Some special considerations:

  • Inside a citation template, do not use formatting templates like {{em}} or {{lang}}, or raw HTML markup like <em>...</em>, in the titles of the work, author(s) names, or any of the other parameters in which extended markup should be avoided. Using such code in them pollutes the COinS metadata emitted by the templates, for use with reference management software. To italicize or boldface something in a title, use basic wikimarkup, e.g.: {{Cite journal |title=Gray wolf (''Canis lupus'') is a natural definitive host for ''Neospora caninum'' |date=...}}. It will be filtered out of the COinS metadata, as will wikilinks, but most other markup will not be.
  • An entirely boldfaced, all-caps, underlined, neon-green, or otherwise stylized title in the source material is not interpreted as a form of emphasis. This includes partial titles; e.g., a newspaper might have an in-house convention for all-caps in the first part of a title and all-lowercase in a subtitle: something like "JOHNSON WINS RUNOFF ELECTION: incumbent leads by at least 18% as polls close" should be rendered on Wikipedia as "Johnson Wins Runoff Election: Incumbent Leads by at Least 18% as Polls Close" or "Johnson wins runoff election: Incumbent leads by at least 18% as polls close", depending on title-case or sentence-case for periodical sources in the citation style used in the article.
  • A particular specially treated word within an otherwise plain title probably will need markup, however. In such a case, convert any such highlighting to plain wiki ''...'' markup in a citation template, but {{em}} markup when the title is mentioned in running text, if the intent was emphasis. Italics used by convention to indicate a foreign expression, a legal case name, a movie title, a species scientific name, etc., are not emphasis and just take ''...'' markup.
  • Titles of works that should be italicized receive this treatment inside another title. E.g., convert a newspaper title like "Ben Daniels Joins Cast of 'The Crown' for Season Three" to "Ben Daniels Joins Cast of The Crown for Season Three". This includes in a citation template as well as in running text.
  • Abbreviations in titles of works should be left as-is, and do not need any linking or markup; if the abbreviation is contextually important, it should be treated in the main article prose. Use of the {{abbr}} template in particular should not be done in citation templates, except in the |quote= parameter (which is free-form text and does not generate metadata).
  • Do not inject [sic] or the template {{sic}} into a work title. If it seems important to use, do it after the title. Within a citation, it is better to use an HTML comment, e.g. |title=The Compleat Gamester<!--Original period spelling.-->. Do not use the templated version of {{sic}} inside citation template data at all, except in the |quote= parameter.

Abbreviation of long titles

When it is impractical to keep repeating a long title in the same article, it is permissible to use a

reliable sources prefer such a spelling. Such an abbreviation need not be mentioned in the lead section
of the article unless the work is very commonly known by the abbreviation (e.g., GTA for the Grand Theft Auto video game series), or the lead is long and the abbreviation is needed in the lead.

A common convention in literary and film reviews is to use the first major word or two from the title (or subtitle, for franchise works) in the same manner, e.g. Roger Ebert gave Eternal Sunshine a rating of ...", for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Although this approach may be also used on Wikipedia, it can seem unencyclopedically colloquial if used for works that have short titles to begin with. It is common to shorten a reference to a work in a series to just its subtitle on second and later mention, or when the context already makes it clear what the overarching title is. However, avoid this usage if confusion could occur, as when the abbreviated form could refer to another element in the same franchise that is also mentioned in our article (Shannara adapts literary high fantasy ... would not work well at our article on The Shannara Chronicles, because "Shannara" appears in the titles of the books on which the TV series is based). Abbreviated forms should be retained as-is in direct quotations, and may be clarified if necessary with square-bracketed editorial insertions.

In all cases, such abbreviations follow the italic or quotation-marked style of the full title.

Titles or what could be taken for titles should be trimmed, both in main text and in

breadcrumbs, hashtags, and keyword links
appearing in front of or after the article title per se. Another frequent example is author, department/column, or publication names put inline with the title. Less often, a website (especially in an officially bilingual country like Canada) may include an English title and a translation in another language as a co-title. Another case is marking exclamations, e.g. "Exclusive:" or "Breaking:" at the start, though sometimes tacked on at the end ("... – Exclusive!"). Including these serves no encyclopedic or citation-verification purpose.

Credit abbreviations

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Abbreviations § Songwriting credits, for usage of composition and performance credit abbreviations, including "feat.", "arr.", and "trad."

See also


  1. ^ Exception: For articles on legal topics that use Bluebook legal citations (uncommon, but permissible by WP:Citing sources § Citation style), case names are italicized in the body of the article (Bluebook Rule 2.2(a)(i)) but are in normal (roman) type in the reference list (Bluebook Rule 2.1(a)).
  2. WP:ABOUTSELF source regarding YouTube, would use |work=YouTube. See also: WP:Citing sources § Say where you read it
  3. ^ List of templates automatically handling italicization.
  4. ^ a b The title given to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech appears in quotation marks because it quotes a line in the speech; the title given to Nixon's Checkers speech does not appear in quotation marks because it is derived from the name of a dog mentioned in the speech, rather than a passage quoted from the speech.
  5. infoboxes
    and similar templates, among other things. Any instructions in MoS about the start of a sentence apply to items using sentence case, and vice versa.
    for how to use these characters, including their spacing.)
  7. ^ The term phrasal verb has conflicting meanings. According to English Grammar Today (Carter, McCarthy, Mark, and O'Keefee, 2016, as quoted by Cambridge Dictionary[1]): "Multi-word verbs are verbs which consist of a verb and one or two particles or prepositions (e.g. up, over, in, down). There are three types of multi-word verbs: phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs and phrasal-prepositional verbs. Sometimes, the name 'phrasal verb' is used to refer to all three types." For capitalizing in titles, phrasal verb is meant in the narrow sense (of verb + particle) only.
  8. ^ Consensus discussions have sometimes concluded in favor of an exception to the five-letter preposition rule, for cases that present unique facts. See, for example, multiple discussions in the archives of Talk:Star Trek Into Darkness, in which it was determined that the title is a play on words, with "Into" serving simultaneously as the start of a subtitle and as a mid-title preposition, and is found capitalized in almost all independent sources. An outlying case like this is not dispositive of how Wikipedia normally treats "into" in mid-title.
  9. ^ Five-letter rule exception, for uncommon prepositions and consistent capitalization in reliable sources, on a per-topic basis, added per December 2018 RfC.
  10. WP:SMALLDETAILS, so the actual article titles are disambiguated as, respectively, "Heroes" (David Bowie album) and "Heroes" (David Bowie song). See talk page archives of these two articles for the consensus discussions that produced these special-case results, which are not indicative of how Wikipedia normally treats quotation marks around titles. See also the TV-episode article Marge Simpson in: "Screaming Yellow Honkers"
    , the title of which would be given as "Marge Simpson in: 'Screaming Yellow Honkers'" in running text.