How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: A Comprehensive Guide


Writing a book title in essay is one of those seemingly simple yet pretty tough tasks nearly every student faces during his academic life. Should I put punctuation marks? Is there one single format to follow? Or do they differ depending on the reference type? These are some common questions crossing students’ minds when it comes to mentioning the source of a book in a paper. 

Of course, there are certain rules and requirements separate for each book format. That’s why it’s essential to have a comprehensive reference at hand to guide you through your writing journey. 

This article can become your beacon if you want to figure out the proper ways of writing, formatting, and citing book titles in your essays. So, let’s go.

How to Write Book Name in Essay According to Citation Styles

Referring to a book title in an essay is vital because of formatting demands. In general, every writing assignment covers the requirements for the formatting style a student must obey. And while the formatting rules are quite the same for the entire text, the tough challenge comes with title citations. 

Depending on the referencing style of the paper, there are three main types typically used in writing a book’s title: APA, MLA, and Chicago.

Here let’s look through them in more detail.

APA Style

APA is the most common formatting style used in universities and colleges and is often referred to as the default style. The main rules and characteristics of writing a book title according to APA style are the following:

  • The first word of the title is capitalized, as well as all words consisting of more than four letters.
  • If the title includes a two-component hyphenated word, then both words are also capitalized.
  • Capitalization is applied for terms after the dash or colon too. 
  • Quotation marks are used for the single book titles instead of italics. The only exceptions include the Bible and reference material categories like dictionaries.

When it comes to mentioning the author’s name, here, you should use their surname as well as the initials of their other names. The initials should include only first and middle names.

Example: Toole, J. K.

MLA Style

Citing the title of the book in the MLA-formatted essay is different from APA formatting. Precisely, the title of the single book or a journal should be in italics.

E.g., Last Name, First Name, and Title in Italics

Also, if the source you want to mention is from a more significant collection, such as a novel from the series or a book chapter series, then it must be in quotation marks and not italicized.

Chicago Style

Chicago formatting style refers to the book titles in a way greatly similar to MLA:

  • The first letter of all verbs, nouns, and adjectives should be capitalized in the book name.
  • Prepositions, articles, and coordinating conjunctions should not be capitalized.
  • The title of a single book must be in italics.

Also, when the name you want to mention belongs to the whole (for example, a book chapter, etc.), it should be in quotations.

How Do You Write a Book Title in an Essay: Underline, Italicize, or Put Them in Quotations?

One of the most confusing questions when it comes to citing a book title in your writing is the part of formatting. Should the name be put in quotations? Is it right to italicize the title, or should it be underlined? No matter how difficult it seems at first glance, formatting can become a simple and automatic process if you follow several rules and requirements. 

For example, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, titles of books that are among other larger works like newspapers should be italicized. Meanwhile, the Publication Manual of APA states that quotation marks should be used with the exceptions of reference materials and the Bible. In the case of handwritten essays, you should capitalize and underline the book title. 

How to Write Different Types of Book Titles in Essays

The formatting of titles will be different depending on the type of work you want to cite.

  • Names of full works (novels, movies, textbooks, plays, and epic poems) should be in Italics.
  • Names of books that are a particle of a larger body of work should be written in quotation marks if the book series title is italicized. 
  • Names of short works, including articles, short stories, poems, and chapter titles, should be put in quotation marks.

How to Write Poem Titles in an Essay 

A poem is normally a short piece of work, and most lyrics are parts of collections. Thus, for the poem’s title, you should apply the standard rule of writing the name in quotation marks without italics. 

The only exception to this rule is novel-length poems, where the title should be underlined or written in italics. 

How to Mention a Book in an Essay: Punctuation Rules

A crucial part of writing a book title in an essay is proper punctuation. Unlike formatting, the rules here are quite simple: 

  • In case the punctuation sign is a part of the book title, you should put it into the formatting string.
  • In case the book’s name does not have any punctuation signs, then you need to leave the symbols in your sentence outside the book title.

Also, when formatting your writing, it’s also essential to check your instructor’s requirements regarding the style and rules of putting a book title in essay to avoid possible confusion.

FAQ Section 

How do you write the name of a book in a sentence?

Here are the basic rules you should follow when writing a book title in a sentence:

  • Put the book title in italics if the source is independent and self-contained. 
  • Place names in quotes if the source is part of a larger work.
  • When you cite someone’s data, you should mention the author’s name and the page number in that source.

How do you write the name of a book in an essay MLA?

The book name in the MLA-style essay should match the rules below:

  • The name of the single book or a journal should be in italicized;
  • If the source is a part of a large collection, such as a book chapter, then it should be in quotes and not be italicized.

How do you quote a book in an essay examples?

The basic form for quoting a book in an essay is the following:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Title of Book
  • City of Publication
  • Publisher
  • Publication Date.
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