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There may be some typewriters which allow you to switch from regular typeface to italics, but I have never seen one.No doubt the IBM Selectrics could be used to type book titles in italics if you switched from one ball to another and then back again, but that seems awfully time-consuming. If you are using a typewriter and can't write in italics, then it is customary to underline the title. Titles of poems, short stories, essays, and other short pieces are set off in double quotes.
The MLA Handbook suggests using the title, "Works Cited", for the list.
by Angie Neely-Sardon, Indian River State College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
The MLA Handbook, 8th Edition was published in April 2016 and adopted by IRSC Libraries in August 2016.
Many databases and citation generators have updated to the 8th edition.
You should only underline the titles of full-length works if your essay is handwritten (as italics aren’t an option). Our certified Educators are real professors, teachers, and scholars who use their academic expertise to tackle your toughest questions.
Educators go through a rigorous application process, and every answer they submit is reviewed by our in-house editorial team. Before word processors came into common usage, it used to be the standard practice to underline book titles when typing.When typing, book titles—in fact, the titles of any full-length works—should always be italicized.Titles of shorter works, such as a poem or short story, should be put in quotation marks.The English departments at IRSC recommend MLA format for papers written in these fields.Two types of citations are included in most research papers: citations within the text of the document and a list of reference citations at the end of the paper.Just remember, the title of any piece that stands alone as a single, unified work should be italicized.In general, underlining and italics are used interchangeably, so the above rules for italics also apply for underlining.Since quotation marks are “tiny,” you can remember that they are used for “smaller” works within the larger work or collection.It is important to be consistent throughout your writing with properly using italics versus quotation marks.Writing handbooks (Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, APA, and many others) vary in their rules for capitalizing and punctuating titles.Certain writing projects mandate using one writing handbook’s format over the others, so for academic work, please check with your professor as to the preferred handbook to use for your writing, citation, and punctuation guidelines.