How to Capitalize and Punctuate Titles

Enter the full title exactly as it is listed in the source, except follow these capitalization and punctuation rules. For a book, take the title from the title page and not from the cover.

Capitalization of a Title (pp. 54-55)

Citation Maker cannot correct errors in capitalization or spelling. Use these guidelines.

  • Capitalize the first word, the last word, and all main words. 

    • Nouns: Shade Trees for Gardens
    • Pronouns: Save Our Species
    • Verbs: Curious George Rides a Bike; What Is Literature?
    • Adjectives: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
    • Adverbs: Only Slightly Corrupt
    • Subordinating conjunction (ex: after, although, as, as if, as soon as, because, before, if , that, unless, until, when, where, while): Darkness Before Dawn
    • Article at the beginning of a subtitle (a, an, the): Romeo and Juliet: A Play

  • Do not capitalize the following parts of speech when they fall in the middle of a title:

    • Articles (a, an, the): Murder on the Orient Express
    • Prepositions (ex: against, as, between, in, of, to, according to): Murder on the Orient Express; The Distance between Us
    • Coordinating conjunctions (ex: and, but, for, nor, or so, yet): Romeo and Juliet
    • The to in infinitives: How to Draw


Punctuation of a Title 

  • Subtitle (p. 61)

Use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle. If the first part of the title ends with a question mark or exclamation point, do not add a colon.

      Dennis Banks and Russell Means: Native American Activists
      Spartan Fit! Thirty Days to a New You

      • Long titles (p. 130)

      You may shorten very long titles or very long text used in place of a title (such as a tweet). Include enough of the title or text to identify it, and use an ellipsis to indicate it has been shortened. An ellipsis is three periods with a space before each and a space after the last ( . . . ). Citation Maker will add the period or comma that ends a Title field in a citation.

      “I'm NASA astronaut Scott Tingle. Ask me anything about adjusting to being back on Earth after . . . .”

      • Other punctuation (pp. 59-60, 132)

      Only include other punctuation if it is part of the title or subtitle, including the final comma in a series. Citation Maker will correctly add either a comma or a period at the end of the title.

      Guide to Gems: Illustrated Guide to the Identification, Properties and Use of Gemstones [Book title does not include a comma after Properties.]
      Red, White, and Whole 
      [Book title does include a comma after White.]

      Capitalization and Punctuation of an Untitled Source 

      • Untitled Source (p. 132)

      When the source does not have a title, enter a description of that source in the box called Title. Do not italicize or put in quotes. Capitalize the first word of the description and any proper nouns in it. (Proper nouns name a specific person, place, or organization and are capitalized, such as Glacier National Park.)

      Ex: Necklace of silver with turquoise stones

      • Untitled Poem Known by Its First Line (p. 55)

      Enter the first line exactly as it appears in the poem.

      • Untitled Social Media or Online Forum Post (p. 132)

      If a post does not have a title but does have text, enter the full text exactly as it appears in the social media post or online forum post. Enclose the text in quotation marks, which Citation Maker will do for you. For longer posts, only copy the first few lines. See Long Titles above.

      Italics and Quotation Marks (pp. 66-70)

      Generally, titles should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Citation Maker will take care of this part for you.

      Whole in Italics "Usually Part of a Larger Whole" in Quotation Marks
      Book, Report, Pamphlet, or Gray Literature Encyclopedia Article, Chapter, Essay, Poem, Short Story
      Play Scene from a Play
      Newspaper, Magazine Article
      Album Song
      Television or Streaming Series Television or Streaming Episode
      Film, Movie, or Documentary
        Other Online Video
      Website or Blog Article, Page, or Post
      App or Database
      Social Media Site Post with Title or Text
      Podcast or Radio Program Podcast or Radio Program Episode
      Visual Art (Painting, Sculpture, etc.)
      Performance (Concert, Dance, Play, etc.)
        Presentation (Speech, Talk, Webinar, etc.)


      MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

      The MLA Style Center: Writing Resources from the Modern Language Association. Modern Language Association of America, 2021,

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