Writing essays involves working with all kinds of sources: from encyclopedias to TV commercials, to interviews you took with other people. Such diversity allows for more creativity, but also inevitably creates confusion. How do you properly describe a YouTube video? Do you underline movie titles in writing? Do you write out every producer or every actor when you mention a film?
Do not worry! Academic guidelines exist for every possible situation. Today we will be figuring out how to properly write a movie title in an essay when you mention it in-text.
How to Write a Movie Title in an Essay: MLA, APA, Chicago, AP
Either your essay is for your Film Studies class or you just need to attribute a popular movie quote, you may need to mention a movie title in your text. How to write a title of a movie in an essay correctly?
When it comes to marking a title in the body of an essay, the general rule of thumb is putting the title of complete work in italics, but putting any part of the whole in quotation marks. That means the answer to our question sounds as follows:
- The name of the film will be italicized, while the name of the scene or a DVD-chapter should be put in quotes, for example: the Titanic movie, but the “I’m flying” scene.
- The name of the series will be italicized, while the name of an episode within it should be put in quotes, for example: the Lost TV series, but the “Numbers” episode.
Also, within the text, the title should be put in title case in all formats (APA, MLA, Chicago, AP), for example, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
The title case is true for both the complete work and the part of it. For example, How I Met Your Mother, “Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M.” episode.
However, there is a caveat. The title case has its own rules depending on a format, and formats disagree on small words, so making the sense of it all is a bit tricky. If you think that life is too short for mastering the subtle art of title case in every style guide under the sun, you are correct. If you only need this for one or two essays, it will be more practical to delegate the nitty-gritty to a professional paper writer.
Writing Movie Titles in Essays in Title Case
How to write a movie title in an essay in title case will depend on the style you’ve chosen for this particular paper:
- Chicago (named after the manual published by the University of Chicago)
- AP (named after The Associated Press)
- MLA (after Modern Language Association)
- APA (after the American Psychological Association)
When writing an essay, consider the field of study, genre of your paper, and your topic before choosing a style. For example, APA is the most popular in scholarly articles and academia in general, especially in behavioral and social sciences. On the other hand, humanities, especially linguistics and literature, give preference to MLA. Chicago and AP are the most widely used formatting styles in the US publishing, so if you are majoring in Journalism or writing a movie review, they are appropriate for your essays.
Remember, the important thing is to style the text in a paper consistently. If you have APA or MLA format specified in your assignment sheet, follow it. Otherwise, choose whichever style seems the most appropriate to you and stick with it.
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association says that minor words (conjunctions and prepositions of three letters or shorter and all articles) are lowercase, while major words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns), and all words of four letters and longer should be capitalized. Also:
- proper names are always capitalized
- the first word in the title and subtitle is always capitalized (even A or The)
- the first word after the colon and em dash is capitalized
- words of four letters and longer are capitalized (During, From, Between)
- if the major word is hyphenated, both parts are capitalized (Able-Bodied, Self-Care)
MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing says that you should capitalize the first and the last word of the title, and all principal words, including all parts of hyphenated compound terms. Principal words include:
- nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs
- subordinating conjunctions (after, although, because, unless, as if, as soon as, etc.)
Words that should not be capitalized:
- articles in the middle of the title
- prepositions in the middle of the title (against, between, of, on)
- coordinating conjunctions (and, for, or, but)
- the to in infinitives
The Chicago Manual of Style says that you should capitalize all words in the title case, except:
- articles (a, an, the)
- prepositions (regardless of length: in, on, between, under)
- conjunctions (and, or, but)
The Associated Press Stylebook says that you should capitalize all the principal words plus:
- prepositions or conjunctions that are three letters or longer
- articles and words shorter than four letters if they are the first or the last word in the title
That’s a lot of details to keep in mind! When in doubt, always check the respective style guide and do final edits before the submission.