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How to Write a Title of a Movie in a Paper


The formatting and capitalization of a movie title depends on the style guide you are using for your paper. The Modern Language Association, American Psychological Association and Chicago style place movie titles in italics, while Associated Press style uses quotes for such titles. When referring to a movie in the body of a paper, all of the major style guides use title case, which means all of the major words in the title are capitalized.

APA, MLA and Chicago style

Movie or film titles are formatted the same in APA, Chicago and MLA style. In each of these styles, the movie title is italicized in the body of the paper. For instance:

Pirates of the Caribbean broke from Disney's tradition of releasing more mature titles under alternate studio names.

Fritz Lang's M deals with the issues of suspicion and punishment in Weimar Germany.

In the body of a paper, APA, Chicago and MLA all use title case capitalization for titles of movies. All major words -- such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and pronouns -- are capitalized. Minor words -- such as prepositions, conjunctions and articles -- are lower case unless it is the first word of the title. APA also specifies that all words more than four letters should be capitalized: Gone With the Wind. APA uses sentence case capitalization for movie titles in reference lists, which means only the first word of a title and proper nouns (names of specific people, places or things) are capitalized: For whom the bell tolls.

Associated Press Style

In AP style, movie titles are placed in quotes. Note that the normal rules for quotes within quotes still apply. Here are two examples:

"Star Wars" broke box office records when it was first released.

"I am excited to work on any film as complex as 'The Prestige,'" he said.

AP style uses title case capitalization for movie titles. However, the AP stylebook specifies that any word that is four or more letters as well as the first and last word of a title should always be capitalized.

About the Author

Jon Zamboni began writing professionally in 2010. He has previously written for The Spiritual Herald, an urban health care and religious issues newspaper based in New York City, and online music magazine eBurban. Zamboni has a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Wesleyan University.

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