Titles of Works (Part 4)

8.171   Quotations as Titles.  When a quoted sentence, or at least a full clause, is used as a title, sentence-style capitalization is often appropriate.  A following subtitle–or, if the quotation is the subtitle, a preceding title–may be in headline style.

“We all live more like brutes than like humans”. Labor and Capital in the Gold Rush


My Kingdom for a Horse:  Memoirs of a Disappointed Car Owner’

8.172   Quoted titles: font and capitalization.  When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized (see 8.178); titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks (see 8.187).  Only initialisms or acronyms should be set in full capitals.  For foreign titles, see (10.3-7).

Many editors use The Chicago Manual of Style

Refer to the article titled “A Comparison of the MLA and the APA Style Manuals”

8.173   Subtitles.  A subtitle, whether in sentence-style or headline-style capitalization, always begins with a capital letter.  Although on a title page or in a chapter heading a subtitle is often distinguished from a title by a different typeface, when quoted in text or listed in bibliography it is separated from the title by a colon.  When an em dash rather than a colon is used, what follows the em dash is not normally considered to be a subtitle, and the first word is not necessarily capitalized.  See also 17.54.

“Manuals of Style:  Guidelines, Not Strangleholds” (heading style)

Tapetum character states:  Analytical keys (sentence style)


Chicago–a Good Town

8.174   Permissible changes in quoted titles.  When a title is quoted, its original spelling (including non-Latin letters such as π or ϒ), hyphenization, and punctuation should be preserved regardless of the style used in the surrounding text (but see 8.175).  Capitalization should also be preserved, except that words in full capitals on the original title page should be set in upper and lower case (see 8.172).  As a matter of editorial discretion, an ampersand (&) may be changed to and, or, more rarely a numeral may be spelled out.  See also 17.52.

8.175   Punctuation in quoted titles.  On title pages, where the title often appears in very large type, commas area sometimes omitted from the ends of lines.  When a title is quoted, such commas should be added.  (Serial commas need to be added only if it is clear that they are used in the work itself.)  A date at the end of a title or subtitle sometimes appears on a line by itself; when quoted, it should be preceded by a comma.  If title and subtitle on a title a page are distinguished by typeface, a colon must be added when the subtitle is quoted.  A dash in the original should be retained. (for two subtitles in the original. (see 17.54).  The following examples illustrate the way quoted titles and subtitles are normally punctuated and capitalized in running text, notes, and bibliographies using headline capitalization.  The first three are books, the fourth is an article.

Disease, Pain and Sacrifice:  Toward a Psychology of Suffering

Melodrama Unveiled:  American Theater and Culture, 1800-1850

Browning’s Roman Murder Story:  A Reading of “The Ring and the Book”

“Milton Freedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom—a Best Seller for Chicago”

For more on titles within titles (as in the third and fourth examples above, see 8.184, 8.187.)

8.176   Punctuation vis-à-vis surrounding text.  Since a title is a noun form, any punctuation within it should not affect punctuation of the surrounding text.  See also 6.43, 8.185.

8.177   Double titles.  Old-fashioned double titles (or titles and subtitles) connected by or are traditionally quoted as in the first example, less traditionally but more simply as in the second.  In both forms, the second title begins with a capital.  Either form is acceptable if used consistently.

England’s Monitor, or, The History of the Separation

England’s Monitor or The History of the Separation

From The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition


About Christopher Merrill

With over 30 years of experience proofreading novels, periodicals, legal documents, advertisements, Web sites, contracts and spreadsheets, Christopher Merrill provides quality proofreading and copy editing services for the Chicago area and nationwide.

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