Titles of Works in a Research Paper: Capitalization and Punctuation .

Titles of Works in a Research Paper: Capitalization and Punctuation .

when you cite the title of a published to work in your research paper , take the title from the title page  and not from the cover or from a running head at the top of a page. Never reproduce any unusual typographic characteristics such as special Capitalization or lower casing of all letters .
Look at the example of how a title is presented in the title page:

How should we present the title of our dissertation throughout the Research Paper?

The title should appear in the research paper as follows:
Renaissance and Humanism.

Rules for capitalizing titles .

While drafting your thesis  you need to follow these rules strictly as per MLA format.
In  a title or subtitle ,capitalize the first word, the last word and all principal words including those that follow hyphens in compound terms. Therefore capitalize the following parts of speech.

  1. Nouns( ex:  Cats as in The Cats of England)
  2. Pronouns ( ex: our as in Our Country Our Literature, )
  3. Verbs( ex: Watches as in America Watches Television)
  4. Adjectives( adjectives like Ugly as in The Ugly Duckling)
  5. Adverbs( ex: Slightly as in Only Slightly Corrupt)
  6. subordinating conjunctions( ex: after, although ,as if, as soon as, because, before ,if,  that,  unless, until, when, where ,while ,as in One If by Land and Anywhere That Chance Leads)

Do not capitalize the following parts of speech when they fall in the middle of a title
  1. Articles ( a, an, the as in Under the Greenwood Trees)
  2. prepositions ( against, as, between, in , of,to, as in The Merchant of Venice)
  3. coordinating conjunctions( and, but,for,nor,or,so,yet, as in Romeo and Juliet)
  4. The to in  infinitives( as in How to Play Chess)


  • Always use a colon and space to separate a title from a subtitle, unless the title ends in a question mark or an exclamation mark.

  • Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle.

The teaching of Spanish in English -Speaking Countries
Storytelling and Mythmaking : Images from Film and Literature
Life As I find It.
The Artist as Critic.
“why Fortinbras?”

Golden Rules
  • When the first line of a poem serves as the title of the poem ,reproduce the line exactly as it appears in the text.

Dickinson’s Poem “I heard a Fly buzz -when I died -”contrasts the everyday and the moments.

Italicizing Titles


  • Italicize the names of books, plays ,poems published books ,pamphlets, periodicals( newspapers magazines and journals) websites, online databases ,films, television and radio broadcasts ,compact discs ,audio cassettes, record albums ,dance performances, Operas and other long musical compositions.


The Awakening( book )
The Importance of Being Earnest (play )
The Wasteland (poem published as book)
New Jersey Driver Manual (pamphlet)
Time (Magazine )
PMLA (journal)
Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy( website)
It's  a Wonderful Life (film)
Rigoletto (Opera )
Spirit of Saint Louis (aircraft)
USS Arizona (ship)

Titles in Quotation Marks

  • Use quotation marks for the titles of articles, essays, stories and poems published within larger works ,chapters of books,  pages in websites, individual episodes of television and radio broadcasts,and short musical compositions .
  • Also use quotation marks for unpublished works such as lectures and speech.
“Literary History and Sociology”( journal article) “Sources of Energy in the Next Decade’( magazine article)
“Etruscan”(Encyclopaedia article )
“The Lottery”(story)
“ Kubla Khan”( poem )
“ The Fiction of Langston Hughes”(essay in a book )
“Mood Indigo”( song)
“ Preparing for a Successful Interview” (lecture)

Titles and quotations within Titles

  • Italicize a title normally indicated by italics when it appears within a title enclosed in quotation marks:
Romeo and Juliet and Renaissance Politics”(an article about a play)
“Language  and Childbirth in The Awakening”(an article about a novel)

  • Enclose in single quotation marks a title normally indicated by quotation marks when it appears within another title requiring quotation marks.
“ Lines after Reading ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ ” (a poem about a poem).

  • Also place single quotation marks around a quotation that appears within a title requiring quotation marks .
Example:  “Emerson’s Strategies against ‘Foolish consistency’” (an article with a quotation in its title).

  • Use quotation marks around the title normally indicated by quotation marks when it appears within an italicized title
Example:  “The Lotteryand Other Stories( a book of stories)
New perspectives on “The Eve of Saint Agnes” (book about a poem)

  • If period is required after an italicized title that ends with a quotation mark, place the period before the quotation mark.
The study appears in New Perspectives on “The eve of Saint Agnes.”


The convention of using italics and quotation marks to indicate titles does not generally apply to the names of scriptural writings( including all books and versions of the Bible );of laws ,acts and similar political documents ;of musical compositions identified by form, number and key ;of  series,societies ,buildings and  monuments and of conferences ,seminars, workshops and courses . These terms all appear without italics or quotation marks.


Old Testament

But italicize titles of individual published edition of scriptural writings( The Interlinear Bible , The Upanishads: A Selection for Modern Reader) and treat the editions in the works- cited list  like any other published books.

Shortened titles

if you cite a title often in the text of your paper, you may, after stating the title in full at least once, use a shortened form , preferably a familiar or obvious one . example:  “Nightingale” for “Ode to a Nightingale”

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers Seventh Edition. New Delhi: East-west Press Private Ltd, 2009. Print.