Are Books Underlined Or Italicized?

Are books underlined or italicized when you write them in a paper? Get the answer and learn the proper way to do it according to MLA guidelines.

Checkout this video:

When to underline or italicize titles

The general rule is that titles of works (books, movies, plays, etc.) should be italicized. If a title is going to be set in quotation marks (like a short story or poem), then it should be underlined.

How underlining or italicizing affects meaning

When you’re writing something that is a direct quotation, you need to use double quotation marks. But what about when you’re just mentioning something? For example, which is correct?

I read The Catcher in the Rye yesterday.
I read “The Catcher in the Rye” yesterday.

Or this one:

What did you think of The Catcher in the Rye?
What did you think of “The Catcher in the Rye?”

Here’s a tip: If you can’t decide whether to use italics or quotation marks for a title, check with your instructor. He or she will guide you on how to format titles consistently throughout your paper.

The history of underlining and italicizing

The practice of underlining for emphasis dates back to medieval manuscripts, when scribes used to draw a line under text to indicate that it should be read aloud with special intonation. This marking eventually became standard practice in printed books as well, and for many centuries, if something needed to be emphasized in a book, it was underlined.

With the arrival of the printing press in the 15th century, italics became an increasingly common way to emphasize words. Italic type was easier to produce than Underlining because individual letters could be easily cast on a type mold, whereas Underlining required a separate block or strip of metal for each letter. By the early 20th century, most printed works had transitioned away from Underlining in favor of italics.

Today, the style guides followed by most publishers recommend using italics for emphasis rather than Underlining. However, there are still some holdouts who prefer Underlining (or even All Caps) for certain purposes. Ultimately, the decision of whether to use italics or Underlining is up to the author or editor.

The different purposes of underlining and italicizing

Books are either underlined or italicized, never both. The reason for this is twofold: first, because underlining can be misread as handwriting, and second, because italics can be difficult to read on a screen. Underlining is used when a book title appears in the text of an essay, either in its entirety or as part of a quote. Italics are used when a book title appears as a reference within the text or as part of a larger work, such as a chapter or section title.

The debate over underlining and italicizing

There is a lot of debate over whether or not books should be underlined or italicized. Some people believe that underlining is the correct way to go, while others believe italicizing is the way to go. There are a few different schools of thought on this subject, and it really depends on which style guide you refer to.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) is one of the most widely used style guides in the United States. CMOS recommends that books are italicized. The Modern Language Association (MLA) is another popular style guide used in the United States. MLA recommends that books are both underlined and italicized.

The Associated Press Stylebook (APA) is a style guide that is commonly used in the social sciences. APA recommends that books are italicized. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) also recommends that books be italicized.

So, what’s the verdict? It really depends on which style guide you refer to. However, if you’re writing for a general audience, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and use italics.

The pros and cons of underlining and italicizing

There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to underlining and italicizing book titles. Some people prefer to underline, while others prefer to italicize. There are pros and cons to both approaches.

Underlining can be helpful if you want to emphasize the title of a book or if you want to make it stand out from the text around it. However, underlining can also be distracting and can make the text around the title more difficult to read.

Italicizing is less likely to be distracting than underlining, but it can still be helpful to emphasize the title of a book. Italicized text can also be easier to read than underlined text.

The future of underlining and italicizing

There has been a recent trend in the publishing industry towards phasing out the use of underlining and italicizing altogether. This is likely due to the increasing popularity of digital media, where such formatting can often be lost or ignored. While there is no hard and fast rule on this matter, it is generally accepted that books should be italicized while articles should be put in quotation marks.

How to underline or italicize correctly

There is much debate on whether books should be underlined or italicized when writing. The answer largely depends on which style guide you are following.

The two most common style guides are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association).

MLA style generally prefers books to be italicized, while APA style prefers books to be underlined. However, both styles allow for the use of either italics or underlining, so it is ultimately up to the author to decide which they prefer.

If you are unsure of which style guide to follow, it is best to consult your professor or editor.

When not to underline or italicize

While books, magazines, newspapers, and websites are usually italicized, there are certain circumstances when they are not. The titles of short stories, essays, songs, and other short pieces are generally put in quotation marks.

The reason for this is that these shorter works are often part of something larger--for example, an anthology or collection of songs. Italicizing them would normally indicate that they were part of a whole (as the name of a ship might be italicized if it were part of a movie title), but since that’s not the case here, quotation marks are used instead.

The same is true for the titles of episodes of television shows and chapters in books. In these cases as well, you would not normally italicize or underline them.

Summary

Are books underlined or italicized when you are writing them? This can depend on the style guide that you are using. The two most common style guides are the MLA (Modern Language Association) style and the APA (American Psychological Association) style.

The MLA style guide says that books should be italicized, while the APA style guide says that books should be underlined. So, which should you use?

It depends on which style guide you are using. If you are using the MLA style guide, then you should italicize the names of books. If you are using the APA style guide, then you should underline the names of books.

Scroll to Top