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The Modern Language Association style guide (which, unlike Chicago, APA, or the AP style guide), is the style guide used for academic writing about literature. According to the MLA style guide, titles of books should be italicized. This is true even if the title of the book appears in the title of a paper about the book (here is an example).

As a user on this site, I frequently put book titles in question titles. Could we have the ability to include italic text in question titles? I feel like this site should be able to support established conventions for writing about literature.


NOTE: I am not asking for the following:

  1. I do not want to edit other peoples' questions/answers because they do not conform to MLA guidelines. In fact, I don't care what format people put their titles in; it's a meaningless debate that I am not interested in having. All I am asking for is the ability to follow MLA guidelines in my content.

  2. I realize that this feature request is difficult to implement technically, and I understand completely if Stack Exchange decides not to dedicate the resources to implementing it.

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    I've never seen italic texts on any SE, is that even possible? Sounds good tho. – Penguin9 Jan 18 '17 at 21:56
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SE doesn't support markdown in question titles.

That includes on sites like Science Fiction & Fantasy or Movies & TV where it would be very useful given the subject matter of the site. I doubt they're going to make an exception for us.

In the meantime, you can always use some workaround, or even leave the title without any special marks around it.

Further reading:

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    ...and doubt they'll ever implement it for what is a niche use case even on these sites. – Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach Jan 18 '17 at 21:58
  • I downvoted this answer because it suggests putting quotes around titles of books, which is incorrect. Quotes are reserved for chapter titles. The proper solution in this case is to "leave the title without any special marks around it". I would upvote this answer if you fixed this. – user111 Jan 18 '17 at 21:58
  • @ChristianRau I know that this feature request probably won't be implemented, but figured it might be worthwhile to ask. – user111 Jan 18 '17 at 22:00
  • @Hamlet Edited with links. – Rand al'Thor Jan 18 '17 at 22:03
  • @Randal'Thor upvoted, thanks! – user111 Jan 18 '17 at 22:04
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    @Hamlet generally, as long as the formatting doesn't make the question indiscernible, ie if they put quotes around the title, then it should just be left that way. there are many different ways to format things, and there's no way we'll agree on one format for this site. hell, most formats aren't even consistent and change based on the type of book, number of authors, etc. – DForck42 Jan 18 '17 at 22:10
  • @DForck42 Agreed. I'm a dreadful pedant, but I've never got into excessive nitpickiness over the formatting used for book titles. – Rand al'Thor Jan 18 '17 at 22:14
  • @DForck42 this is a well-established convention in academia that is consistent and doesn't "change based on the type of book, number of authors." I wasn't planning on editing questions simply because they didn't follow this convention. But I don't think it's appropriate for people to suggest that not following this convention is correct, as Rand al'Thor's answer did before Rand al'Thor edited it. If you have questions about this convention, look at the first link in the above question. – user111 Jan 18 '17 at 22:16
  • @Hamlet I thought it was different in APA than MLA, guess I was wrong. – DForck42 Jan 18 '17 at 22:23
  • @DForck42 MLA is for english/literature, and APA is mostly for the social sciences. – user111 Jan 18 '17 at 22:24
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    @Hamlet Depends on your style guide. The Chicago style says book titles use italics exclusively. The Associated Press style says to use quotes (p. 62). – Robert Cartaino Jan 18 '17 at 22:59
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I don't see this as either doable or useful.

It isn't doable because titles are sent through many communication channels, all of which would need to be adapted to support formatting. Many of these channels don't support formatting at all, for example various kinds of newsfeeds.

It isn't useful because there's a widespread convention of using quotation marks around titles when italics are not possible.

  • See comments on my answer for a lot of nitpicking about the appropriateness of using quotation marks around titles. – Rand al'Thor Jan 18 '17 at 22:38
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    Compare also to the HNQ completely exluding questions with LaTeX in them. – Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach Jan 18 '17 at 22:38
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    @Christian Is that still a thing? I'm sure I've seen Latex in the HNQs recently. – Rand al'Thor Jan 18 '17 at 23:15
  • @Randal'Thor maybe you were on a LaTeX site yourself then? – Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach Jan 18 '17 at 23:15

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