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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 . . .

Published 2 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 . . .

Published 3 October 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 . . .

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 . . .

Published 24 July 2018

How do I distinguish between different dictionary entries for the same term in my in-text citation?

To distinguish between different dictionary entries for the same term, follow the principle in our previous post on distinguishing between works with the same title: provide additional details in your parenthetical citation, usually the first unique piece of information in your works-cited-list entries. For example, in the following works-cited-list entries for emoticon, the information in the . . .

Published 30 May 2018

When should you correct spelling in a title?

The spelling of a title should almost never be corrected, especially by students, even when the title seems to include an error. Sometimes the “error” is intended, as for the Stephen King novel and movie Pet Sematary, or may be otherwise purposefully made, however ill advised, as for the movie Two Weeks Notice. But sometimes an . . .

Published 23 May 2018

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