A reader asks:
When writing about a short story, do you underline the title of the story or do you use quotation marks around the title of the story?
The most common way to mark a short story title is to enclose it in quotation marks. Titles of newspaper and magazine articles are also enclosed in quotation marks. Here are a few examples:
- “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville
- “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
- “Mommy Madness” by Judith Warner in Newsweek
Italics or Underlining:
Longer works—novels, magazines, newspapers, movies—are typically underlined or set in italic type. Although either is acceptable, I prefer italics, especially on the web, since an underlined word can be mistaken for a hyperlink.
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Simpsons
- The New York Times
I’m not sure why, but The New Yorker puts quotation marks around everything, whether it’s a short story or a novel or a television show. I suppose the most important thing is internal consistency. If you use italics for one novel’s title, use italics for every novel’s title; don’t switch to quotation marks or underlining halfway through an article, or even in a different article of the same publication.
Any questions? Post them in the comment form, and I’ll answer them as promptly as I can.