7 Steps to Write a Movie Title in an Essay Image

Many times in your college essays, you’ll be asked to make reference to movies. When you do so, you will be confronted with the question of how to refer to the title of a movie in the text of your paper. While there are some variations in how different writing styles approach movie titles, there is a general way to write the titles of movies that you should follow if you plan to discuss a movie title in your essay. So, what are the steps you need to take to write a movie title in your essay correctly? Here are the seven steps you should follow to make sure you get the title right.

Make sure you have the right movie

Many movies have very similar titles. Some have the exact same title. You don’t want to confuse Broken Arrow, a Jimmy Stewart western, with Broken Arrow, a John Travolta thriller, for example, or The House on Haunted Hill for The Haunting of Hill House. Indeed, many movies called “mockbusters” intentionally use titles to remind you of blockbuster films and you don’t want to confuse them! So, before you use a title in your paper, make sure that you have the right movie in mind.

Check the wording of the title

Many movies are known by multiple titles, often because they have been retitled to appeal to different countries. For example, Mad Max 2 became The Road Warrior in the United States. Others have their titles changed after the fact. Star Wars became Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, while Raiders of the Lost Ark had Indiana Jones and… appended to it decades later. When you refer to a movie, be sure you know the correct title for the context and how your audience will expect to see you discuss the title.

Watch out for “a” and “the”

Many movie titles either have an article before them that most people don’t say, or don’t have an article when people say one anyway. This can be a little confusing, but you’ll want to check whether the “a” or “the” at the beginning is really part of the title before you write the title so you will know whether to include it in the title.

Capitalize the title of the movie

When you write the title of a movie, you will generally follow the conventions of capitalization for titles. That means that you will capitalize the first word and the last word and all proper nouns and important words in the title. Capitalization can be tricky, however, because many movies use stylized capitalization in their advertisements and title cards. However, in formal academic writing, you will use standard capitalization except in rare circumstances where another scheme is essential for understanding. That means that if a movie uses ALL CAPS, you will not use all-caps unless they are an essential part of the title. Similarly, unusual or non-standard capitalization should be retained when it is essential. For example, the unusual capitalization of the movie eXistenZ is generally retained in writing because it is a made-up word whose spelling is correct within the movie.

Italicize movie titles

Movie titles should be italicized in most major writing styles. This sets the text apart from the rest of the sentence and indicates which words belong to the title and which do not. There are some exceptions to the rule about italicizing movie titles. The titles of short films are not typically italicized but are often placed in quotation marks. This generally applies to short subject films under half an hour in length, as well as to segments within a larger movie. This rule, however, is not hard-and-fast, and you should check the style guide for your chosen writing style to see when different punctuation is used. Another exception is newswriting. If you are writing in Associated Press style, all movie titles appear in quotation marks rather than italics because AP style does not use italicization for anything except in very rare circumstances.

Give the year of release on first reference

More often than not, it is beneficial to follow the title of a movie with the year of its release in parentheses on first reference. This will help the audience to place the movie in its correct position in time, and it will also make it easier to distinguish between films with similar or the same title. While this step is not always necessary, particularly for very famous films, it is generally good practice in academic writing.

Consider using an essay writing service

If you are stymied by the right way to write about movies in your paper, you can pay someone to do papers for you. A professional writer can free you from the burden of essay writing by offering help with the correct use of movie titles in your paper and expert discussion of the movies you need to write about for your essay properly formatted in APA or MLA citation style. In order to hire an online writer, all you need to do is to contact a quality academic writing service and say, “I need you to write my essays for me online.” While quality academic writing isn’t always cheap, many services offer great value and affordable assistance to help you achieve your essay goals with some of the best professional writers with exceptional experience and a deep bank of movie knowledge to make every essay excellent. 

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