Let's say I had a character which was looking at a book shelf and I wanted to mention a particular book that they were looking at, let's say it's Lord of the Rings, should I put the title in quotes? something like..

Jim looked at "Lord of the Rings"

Or should it just be..

Jim looked at Lord of the Rings


2 Answers 2


Book titles are usually placed within quotes or italicized, in order to set them apart. Which one you use is a matter of style.

Assuming that your publisher has no style preference (some do), you can pick one or the other and stick to it. Whichever you use, be consistent.

Please note that all titles are not always styled the same way. It's fairly common to italicize book titles but set short story titles between quotation marks, for example. As long as a particular piece of text (an article, a story, a manuscript, etc.) is consistent in this regard, all is well.

  • How then do you then show the difference between internal thoughts of a character which I believe is also italicized and book titles? or it's all about context?
    – Phil
    Nov 12, 2013 at 12:11
  • So there's a book title mentioned within a character's internal thoughts? (I can add that to my answer.) Nov 12, 2013 at 18:36

Chicago, MLA and APA all italicize book titles. Chicago and MLA "quote" journal articles, APA uses no markup for those. Since these reference list formatting styles are most common, I would adhere to them even in non-scientific texts: italicize book titles, quote journal articles.

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