English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The titles of freestanding works (books, movies, plays, albums, etc.) are italicized; smaller parts within these works (chapters in a book, articles in a magazine, songs within an album) are not (they are put in quotes, instead).

How are software titles treated?

My understanding is that if a particular program resembles a book or a dramatic work (like a video game), its title is italicized -- otherwise, it is treated as a proper noun, just like any other product.

I played Grand Theft Auto, instead of reading "Democracy in Ancient Greece" in Microsoft Encarta and preparing my presentation in PowerPoint.

Is this approach correct?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

It depends on the style guide you're following.

Wikipedia says yes:

Italic type (text like this) is generally used for the following categories of titles:


  • Works of art and artifice

    Computer and video games (but not other software)

The Guardian says no:

Use roman for titles of books, films, etc
Use italics for foreign words and phrases (with roman translation in brackets)

National Geographic says yes:

The following are printed in italic type without quotation marks:
2. Titles of the following:
Computer software and CD-ROM and other multimedia product titles
(except applications programs such as WordPerfect)

Take your pick, and be consistent.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.