Mastering MLA Format: How to Write a Book Title in an Essay

In academic writing, proper citation and formatting are crucial elements to ensure clarity, accuracy, and credibility. One common aspect of writing essays is incorporating book titles. However, knowing how to correctly format book titles within an essay, particularly in MLA (Modern Language Association) style, can sometimes be confusing. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the guidelines and best practices for writing book titles in an essay using MLA format.

Understanding MLA Format

Before delving into the specifics of writing book titles, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of MLA format. The MLA style is widely used in humanities, literature, and language studies, providing guidelines for in-text citations, references, and overall document formatting.

Formatting Book Titles in an Essay

When it comes to incorporating book titles in an essay written in MLA format, there are certain rules to follow:

Italicize the Title:

In MLA format, book titles are italicized to indicate emphasis. This applies to longer works, such as books, novels, anthologies, and collections of essays.

Use Quotation Marks:

For shorter works or sections within larger works, such as chapters, articles, or poems, use double quotation marks (” “).


Capitalize the first letter of the title and any subtitles within the book title. However, articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (in, on, at) should not be capitalized unless they appear as the first word of the title.


Maintain consistency in formatting throughout your essay. Once you decide to italicize or enclose book titles in quotation marks, ensure that you apply the chosen format consistently throughout the entire essay.

Examples of Writing Book Titles in MLA Format

Book Title in Italics:

  • The Great Gatsby
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Pride and Prejudice

Section or Chapter Title in Quotation Marks

  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” (short story)
  • “The Road Not Taken” (poem)
  • “Chapter 3: The Dark Forest” (chapter within a book)

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Mastering the skill of properly incorporating book titles in an essay written in MLA format is essential for academic writing. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can confidently format book titles, ensuring clarity and adherence to MLA standards. Understanding the distinction between italicizing and using quotation marks, as well as the rules of capitalization, will enable you to effectively cite and reference book titles in your essays. Additionally, when seeking online essay assistance, consider the top providers mentioned in the independent review, ensuring that you choose a reliable and reputable service.