Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles

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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.

Italics[edit]

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[edit]

  • 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 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
  • 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)
  • 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 or individual exhibits
  • Paintings, sculptures and other works of visual art with a title rather than a name (see MOS:VATITLE for more detail)
  • Periodicals (newspapers, journals, magazines)
  • Plays (including published screenplays and teleplays)
  • Long or epic poems
  • Syndicated columns and other features republished regularly by others

The actual medium of publication or presentation is not a factor; a video feature only released 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 only available from the artist on a limited-edition USB drive is a real album, a TV series only available 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 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 (Salon or HuffPost). Online non-user-generated encyclopedias and dictionaries should also be italicized (Scholarpedia or Merriam-Webster Online). Other types of websites should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

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[edit]

Some similar cases that are not titles of works include:

Link formatting[edit]

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 disambiguation term, which is not part of the film title.

Italicizing Wikipedia article titles[edit]

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

Quotation marks[edit]

Minor works[edit]

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
  • Exhibits (specific) within a larger exhibition
  • 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.[a]

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[edit]

If a title 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 – Punctuation.

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 "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" (a song with a German-language title).

Neither[edit]

There are cases in which the title should be in neither italics nor quotation marks (though many are capitalized):

Scripture[edit]

Scriptures of large, well-known religions should not normally be italicized. For example, Bible, Quran, Talmud, Bhagavad Gita, Adi Granth, Book of Mormon, and Avesta are not italicized. Their constituent parts, such as Book of Ruth, New Testament, or Gospel of Matthew, are not italicized either, as such titles are generally traditional rather than original ones. However, the titles of specific published versions of religious texts should be italicized: Authorized King James Version and New Edition of the 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, The Urantia Book, The Satanic Bible, Divine Principle, and Gylfaginning should be italicized.

Series titles[edit]

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 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.

Punctuation[edit]

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 essay, "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[edit]

In titles (including subtitles, if any) of English-language works, every word except for definite and indefinite articles, short coordinating conjunctions, and short prepositions is capitalized. 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. For other article titles, Wikipedia uses sentence case. In sentence case, generally only the first word and all proper names are capitalized (this is also true of section headings, captions, etc.[b]). Examples: List of selection theorems, Women's rights in Haiti.

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 when that style is the one 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:

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

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, as in "Like" and "Past". Continue to lower-case common four-letter (or shorter) prepositions like "into" and "from".[e]

Hyphenation: The general rule in English to not capitalize after a hyphen unless what follows the hyphen is itself a proper name (as in post-Soviet) 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 {{lang}} template with the proper ISO language code (the shortest available for the language or dialect in question), e.g.: "{{lang|de|Hymnus an den heiligen Geist}}". This is done inside surrounding quotation marks, for short/minor works. Since 2017, the template automatically italicizes foreign material in a Latin script, so no manual italics markup around or inside the template is needed, and should be removed if present. Such titles should be italicized as non-English regardless whether they would also be italicized as major works or not italicized as minor ones. 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[edit]

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").

Translations[edit]

For works originally named in languages other than English, use WP:COMMONNAME 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[edit]

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, redirect it to the actual article, and include {{R from stylization}} on the redirect page: ALIEN³.

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 sarcasm. If the title is put into double quotation marks as a minor work, its interior quotation marks are rendered as single quotes.[f] When giving a quoted title that begins or ends with an interior quotation mark, the templates {{"'}} and {{'"}}, 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[edit]

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.
  • Boldfaced, all-caps, or otherwise stylized titles in source material are not interpreted as a form of emphasis; a particular specially-treated word within a title may well be. In such a case, convert to plain wiki ''...'' markup in a citation template, but {{em}} markup when the title is mentioned in running text.
  • 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".
  • 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.

Abbreviation of long titles[edit]

When it is impractical to keep repeating a long title in the same article, it is permissible to use a source-attested abbreviation of it. This is can be introduced in parentheses, with or without a parenthetical "hereafter", at an early occurrence in the page: "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" (hereafter "ITEOTWAWKI"). Some other examples include OED for The Oxford English Dictionary, LotR for The Lord of the Rings, and STII:TWoK for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It is not necessary to use camel case, as in LotR, unless most of the 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 reference citations, to remove extraneous and reader-unhelpful injections. A common case is navigational website interface elements, such as 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.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Wikipedia uses sentence case for sentences, article titles, section titles, table headers, image captions, list entries (in most cases), and entries in 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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 found capitalized in almost all independent sources. An outlying case like this is not dispositive of how Wikipedia normally treats "into" in mid-title.
  5. ^ Five-letter rule exception, for uncommon prepositions and consistent capitalization in reliable sources, on a per-topic basis, added per December 2018 RfC.
  6. ^ An unusual case is the retention of quotation marks around the entire titles of David Bowie's album "Heroes" and single "'Heroes'". This was done because reliable sources made it clear that the markup was intentional indication of verbal irony by Bowie, i.e. to suggest "so-called heroes". Such typographic quirks are too subtle and inconsistently applied to qualify for 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.