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Where do I place the colon that separates the title from a subtitle if the title ends with a quotation mark?

If the title ends with a quotation mark, insert the colon between the quotation mark and the subtitle. In the first example below, the title consists of a quotation from Shakespeare. In the second example, the title contains the title of a short story:

“To Be or Not to Be”: A Study of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”: Northern Progress Meets Southern Tradition

Read more on punctuating titles.
 

Published 3 May 2019

If my works-cited-list entry has a title styled in quotation marks that ends in a question mark, should I insert a period after the question mark?

No. Omit the period, as shown in the example below:

“How Do I Cite a Map?” The MLA Style Center, Modern Language Association of America, 6 Apr. 2018, style.mla.org/citing-images-viewed-firsthand-or-online/.

Read more on titles ending in question marks or exclamation points. 

Published 2 May 2019

Should the initial article in periodical titles be retained in both prose and works-cited-list entries?

Yes. The styling of titles should be consistent in your prose and in your works-cited list. Since, as the MLA Handbook notes, “[t]itles are given in the entry in full exactly as they are found in the source” (25), if the title of a periodical starts with an article, retain the article when you provide the title in your works-cited-list entry and in your prose, as shown in the following example: 

In an article in The New York Times on political analysts published shortly after the 2012 presidential election, Eric Pfanner mentions two pollsters, Simon Jackman and Drew Linzer,

Published 17 April 2019

Should individual tale titles in The Canterbury Tales be set in quotation marks?

Yes. Student writers should place the titles of individual tales in quotation marks. This follows from the MLA Handbook’s general guideline for the styling of titles: “A title is placed in quotation marks if the source is part of a larger work” (25):

“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” appears in The Canterbury Tales.
The only tales from The Canterbury Tales included in the textbook Medieval Literature: A Textbook for Students are “The Knight’s Tale” and “The Clerk’s Tale.”  

Note, however, that by convention some scholarly publishers style tale titles in roman typeface without quotation marks:

The Pardoner’s Tale and The Wife of Bath’s Tale are among the most written about tales in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Published 2 January 2019

In MLA style, should any part of a two-word preposition, such as according to, be capitalized in a title?

A preposition that is not at the start or end of a title should be lowercased, no matter how many words compose it and no matter how long those words are. A few examples:
according to
as regards
concerning
except for
other than
Some other styles capitalize a preposition or a word that belongs to a preposition if it has five letters or more.
If John Irving’s novel appeared in an essay or works-cited list published by the MLA, it would be styled The World according to Garp.

Published 1 January 2019

If a book title within an essay title is not italicized in the source, should I italicize it in my works-cited-list entry?

Yes. A title within a title should be styled according to the guidelines in section 1.2.4 of the MLA Handbook, regardless of how a title within a title is styled in the source.
For example, the title of an essay about Gone with the Wind is styled in EBSCOHost as follows:

Since Gone with the Wind is the title of a novel, if you were to include this essay in your works-cited list, you would set it in italics instead of enclosing it in quotation marks:

Adams, Amanda. “‘Painfully Southern’: Gone with the Wind,

Published 3 October 2018

Should I italicize titles not written in the Latin alphabet?

No. Note that there are many languages in the world that do not have an italic font—Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Armenian, for example. Arabic sometimes uses a typeface that slants to the left instead of to the right.
Given the complexity and specificity of historical, cultural, linguistic, and printing practices throughout the world, a writer should not use italics when a book title is in a foreign language that is not written in the Latin alphabet. If you are preparing a work for publication, leave the decision about italicizing such a title to the publisher.
For more on italicizing titles not written in the Latin alphabet,

Published 19 September 2018

If the title of an essay I am citing is also the name of a work that normally appears in italics, how should I style the name of the essay?

If the title of an essay consists solely of the title of a work normally styled in italics, the title of the work should be both italicized and enclosed in quotation marks:

In the essay “The Portrait of a Lady,” about Henry James’s novel The Portrait of a Lady, the author provides a detailed character study of Isabel Archer.

Published 21 August 2018

When creating a sortable list of alphabetized titles, where should the initial article be placed?

In an index or sortable list of titles, MLA style follows the The Chicago Manual of Style, which recommends placing initial articles at the end of the full title (16.51). A Tale of Two Cities would appear as Tale of Two Cities, A. Note that titles in indexes do not include subtitles unless they are “essential for identification” (16.55). If a subtitle is included, the initial article should be placed at the end of the full title, not before the subtitle. 
In both indexes and works-cited lists, MLA style uses letter-by-letter alphabetization (MLA Handbook 2.7.1.). 

Published 24 July 2018

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