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How to Write the Title of a Book in an Essay

Writing essays is hard due to many reasons. It requires lots of research and time. At the same time, to complete the task well, one needs to have a thorough understanding of the subject, lots of creativity, and solid writing skills. Then, there are also many tiny rules and requirements that differ from one style to another and can be incredibly hard to adhere to.

One such small but important detail is book titles and the way you integrate them into your text and bibliography. Many students don’t pay much attention to this. But, in fact, the way you include book titles can affect the final grade a lot.

So, what do you do if you aren’t sure how to write book titles in an essay? The easy way to deal with this is to turn to a trusted paper writing service and let experienced professionals do all the hard work for you. This way, you will save lots of time and get a guarantee of a high grade. But, if you want to figure everything out on your own, read our guide to learn how to include book names in your papers using different style manuals.


When Do You Need to Write a Book Title in an Essay?

Before we guide you on the key rules for including titles in your essays, it is natural if you wonder why you need to do this in the first place. And there are a few big reasons for this:

  • When writing an essay on a book – Obviously, if your paper is centered around a specific piece of literature, there is no way to avoid mentioning its name as you write.
  • When providing evidence or facts referring to a book – When working on papers on various topics, students always have to support their ideas with facts and evidence. Often, they take such supporting ideas from books, and that’s when they also must mention titles in their papers.

Now that you know in which cases you might need to include a book name in your paper, let’s look at the key rules of writing titles in different styles.

MLA or Chicago

If you are writing an essay following the MLA or Chicago manual of style, there are several rules for mentioning book titles in such papers. Let’s look at them all.

1st rule

First of all, you must follow proper capitalization. The MLA style requires you to start all verbs, nouns, and adjectives in the book’s name with a large letter. However, if the name includes any prepositions, articles, or coordinating conjunctions – these words are not considered significant and, thus, should not be capitalized.

The only exception to the rule is the first word. If the name begins with a preposition, article, or coordinating conjunction, you have to capitalize it.


  • Don Quixote – full capitalization as there are no prepositions, articles, or coordinating conjunctions.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – the preposition located in the middle of the name starts with a small letter.
  • The Lord of the Rings – “the” is capitalized because it stands at the beginning of the title, but the rest of the articles and prepositions are not capitalized.

2nd rule

The second rule for mentioning titles in MLA or Chicago papers is to always italicize them. Whether you mention the name in the text or in the bibliography, it has to be fully italicized. Here, it is also important to note that some titles might include punctuation at the end, though it is a rare case. On such occasions, you have to italicize punctuation as well.


  • Absalom, Absalom! – here, the exclamation mark is also a part of the name, so it needs to be put in italics.

3rd rule

Finally, the last rule applicable to papers in MLA or Chicago style is to replace italics with quotation marks when referring to a specific part of an anthology. For example, if you want to refer to a specific part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in your text, you will have to put it in quotation marks like this “The Fellowship of the Ring” without italicizing it.


When writing an essay in APA style, the rules for including book titles will be slightly different.

1st rule

First of all, of course, you will need to capitalize the name correctly. Just like in the MLA or Chicago style, you will want to capitalize all significant words, including verbs, nouns, etc. Secondly, you will also not capitalize insignificant words, such as prepositions, articles, or coordinating conjunctions.

Of course, you will have to start the first word in the title with a capital letter, no matter what kind of word it is. And, if there are two parts of the name separated by a column, you have to capitalize the first word after the column too.

But, here is one rule that is different from other styles – in APA, you will also have to capitalize all words longer than 4 letters, no matter what kind of word it is.


  • Jane Eyer – all words in the name are major.
  • The Sun Also Rises – “the” is capitalized because it is the first word, and “also” is capitalized because it is 4 letters long.
  • Blue River: The Trial of a Mayor-Elect – the word “elect” comes after the hyphen and wouldn’t typically start with a capital letter, but it is also 4 letters long.

2nd rule

Another rule to keep in mind is just the same as in the MLA and Chicago styles – all names have to be italicized. And, once again, the book names that include some punctuation marks require you to italicize them as well.


  • Gulliver’s Travels
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Bottom Line

When writing essays, students have to keep dozens of requirements and rules in mind. Often, this can be somewhat confusing and challenging. But not now.

Luckily, after reading this guide, you should have a better idea of how to write titles of books in your papers. Use this article as a guide to avoid mistakes and score higher grades on your essays!

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