I am going through a few movies and I see Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions. Are that many colons appropriate? I am inclined to use em-dashes for the next subtitle, leading to Pokémon: Zoroark — Master of Illusions. This looks right to me, I'm happy. ...Until I go to the next movie.

What do I do here: Pokémon: The Movie: White: Victini and Zekrom? I am inclined to use an em-dash again for the first subtitle (as in, Pokémon: The Movie — White) but what about the next subtitle, another em-dash or alternate back to a colon? Or, possibly radically, another symbol altogether? Is there a suggested method?

Thanks, any thoughts are appreciated.

  • I could be wrong here, but I thought that "the Movie" was not a subtitle, but rather that "Pokemon the Movie" was the title. Wikipedia appears to format it such that "Pokemon the Movie" is the title, the first subtitle of "white" is preceded by a colon and the second subtitle "Victini and Zekrom" is preceded by a dash. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Tyler N
    Jul 10, 2020 at 18:45
  • What constitutes a subtitle is moot and like lists and postal addresses, titles of anything are exempt from normal rules, so you should find more help in a writing forum. The only “correct" punctuation is the publisher’s style, except where outfits like IMDb or Haliwell use house rules. Is "The Hobbit or There and Back Again” from the book correct for you, or “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” from the first film? I like your Pokémon: Zoroark — Master of Illusions. Which dash is a style choice but as you said, two colons for Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions is too many. Jul 12, 2020 at 15:01
  • Thanks for your responses. Tyler, please see my response under your post as far as my thoughts on "the Movie" being an epithet and likely deserving to be labeled as a subtitle. Robbie, good point. I guess I'm attempted to create my own "house rules" similar to your case of IMDb and would like to gauge others' thoughts on the matter. Nothing's inherently "wrong", but it would be reassuring that I'm not "fixing" what I perceive as a problem into a name that people think is an eyesore.
    – Ben
    Jul 13, 2020 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


Perhaps it is just my Google Fu, but I am failing to find great examples that have more than 2 subtitles.

One example I did see that I personally like was to use a comma to precede the first subtitle, then colon, then dash:

JavaScript, Book 1: How to Code in JavaScript - Beginner's Guide

MLA's rules appear to be that you use a colon for the first subtitle as well as the second. There are also some other rules regarding what to do if the title includes a question mark, ellipsis, or a colon already. MLA doesn't touch on more than 2 subtitles; however, there is a syntax for a work with more than one title which makes use of ; or, as the delimiter, so perhaps stay away from using semicolons.

Star Wars Episode I; or, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

I would be interested to know if there is a true guideline for this, otherwise I suppose it's up to personal preference.

But for your specific case, I do believe that "the Movie" in "Pokemon the Movie" is not a subtitle. At the very least, every source I just looked at (Wikipedia, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, Bulbapedia) did not have a colon precede "the Movie", they just had it as:

Pokemon the Movie: White - Victini and Zekrom

  • Thank you, I agree with several of your points. I like your comma usage when applying to a specific book, volume, or episode number, so I can't use it for this case, but perfect for me to keep in mind when it applies. I am surprised to see that MLA says a colon is allowed for each subtitle. I thought that was a no-no, but, then again, that's why I'm asking. I knew that a colon after ! or ? is not liked, but I figured an em-dash is an optional (read: acceptable) way to separate the subtitle, so that's what I'd be tempted to use. And I'll have to leave a new comment for the last point.
    – Ben
    Jul 13, 2020 at 15:11
  • (I apologize as I am new to Stack Exchange as far as asking questions and responding. I had formatted my comment well for readability and posted the comment to find that it's all just one paragraph. I should have responded in several comments.)
    – Ben
    Jul 13, 2020 at 15:13
  • The last comment about "Pokemon the Movie" being the title is valid. (I have a little bit of an internal stink with this that may or may not be validated. Maybe this is worth asking as an entirely new post...) I'm not sure that this is right, but I would argue that "Pokemon the movie" is to be used as an epithet describing what Pokemon is. Alexander is always to be "the Great", but Pokemon isn't always "the Movie". In this usage, to me it would warrant a subtitle use with a colon in order to specify ("Pokemon: The Movie"). See this ex.: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_Batman:_The_Videogame
    – Ben
    Jul 13, 2020 at 15:23
  • Lego Batman is its own entity; "The Videogame" clarifies which use of Lego Batman this is. I have seen this practice commonly used as a subtitle in other cases without hitch, and it makes sense why. It's just that in Pokemon's case, they used a further subtitle, so it opens up this whole issue of if it's truly a subtitle or not. I'd argue that it's meant to be a subtitle for clarification purposes and should ideally be used as such.
    – Ben
    Jul 13, 2020 at 15:41
  • 1
    @Ben I can certainly see your point of view. Interestingly, if you look at a list of Pokemon movies, "the movie" part was originally a subtitle "Pokemon: the first Movie", "Pokemon: the Movie 2000," then they avoided "the movie" altogether in the title for many years, and now all of their recent movies have been "Pokemon the Movie: subtitle". While we can debate their stylistic choices forever, ultimately the creator of the content has decided on a style, and when referencing it, a writer should always follow what the creator chose.
    – Tyler N
    Jul 13, 2020 at 15:43

It depends on the context you want to present in the text layout. I am describing now purely on a descriptive base to decision, since you gave few information on the content details.

  • If you want to be plain and bold about the content, you need to be more specific with words (here 3 descriptive words "Pokemon", "Master" and "Illusions").
  • If you prefer a mystery around the content, keep it short and non-descriptive and fill the empty space.

"The Movie" and "White" feels a bit like a mystery, so I would go for the short version and some cryptic hint to the content either completely exotic or very familiar.

  • 1
    Thanks for responding. I should let you know that I'm not creating the titles. I'm attempting to correctly punctuate already-made titles, in this case, from the Pokémon movie series.
    – Ben
    Jul 9, 2020 at 23:46

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