How to Capitalize and Punctuate Titles

Enter the full title exactly as it is listed in the source, except follow these capitalization and punctuation rules. For a book, take the title from the title page and not from the cover.


Citation Maker cannot correct errors in capitalization or spelling. Use these guidelines.

Capitalize the first word, the last word, and all main words. Also capitalize the first word of a subtitle, if it would not normally be capitalized, like "a" or "the".


    • Shade Trees for Gardens
    • Save Our Species
    • Curious George Rides a Bike 
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
    • Only Slightly Corrupt
    • Darkness Before Dawn
    • Murder on the Orient Express
    • The Distance between Us
    • Romeo and Juliet: A Play
    • How to Draw Dinosaurs

Capitalization of a Source That Does Not Have a Title (= Untitled)

When the source does not have a title, enter a description of that source in the box called Title. Capitalize the first word and any proper nouns. (Proper nouns name a specific person, place, or organization and are capitalized, like Glacier National Park.)

Ex: Necklace of silver with turquoise stones

Capitalization of an Untitled Poem Known by Its First Line

Enter the first line exactly as it appears in the poem.

Capitalization of a Tweet or Other Untitled Short Message

In the works-cited list, enter the entire tweet or short message. For longer messages, only copy the first few lines. 

Punctuation of a Title

  • Subtitle: use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle. If the first part of the title ends with a question mark or exclamation point, do not add a colon.
    • Guide to Gems: Illustrated Guide to the Identification, Properties and Use of Gemstones
    • Getting Fit! Thirty Days to a New You
  • Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle. Citation Maker will correctly add either a comma or a period at the end of the title.

Italics and Quotation Marks

Generally, titles should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Citation Maker will take care of this part for you.

Italics Quotation Marks
Whole "Part of a Larger Whole"
Book Essay, Poem, Play, Story
Newspaper, Magazine Article
Album Song
Television Series Television Episode
Website Article or Post


MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

The MLA Style Center: Writing Resources from the Modern Language Association. Modern Language Association of America, 2016,