How do you indicate the title of a major work if neither italics nor underline are available? Would you fall back on quotes or should you use something else?

Text messages are an example of where this may come up.

  • 1
    Sometimes you see caps: GONE WITH THE WIND is her favorite book.
    – GEdgar
    Aug 23, 2012 at 18:40
  • 2
    @GEdgar Ultimately, the OP will have to choose a way that lets the reader know that they're looking at a title. If this is sent via text message, then using all caps could make the sender seem irate.
    – Zairja
    Aug 23, 2012 at 18:45
  • 1
    @Zairja: Maybe so, but I don't think that needs to be TOO much of a concern here. (While all caps can be interpreted as yelling or irritation, that isn't always the case; sometimes it just stresses a single word.) In the case of a book title, were I to receive that text, I can't imagine myself thinking, "Wow, GEdgar seems really agitated; maybe I shouldn't have asked about her favorite book."
    – J.R.
    Aug 24, 2012 at 1:01
  • @GEdgar The use of initial capitals seems more usual to me as in: Gone With The Wind; The House At Pooh Corner; Catch 22 and Dubliners. It's available it the simplest of text formats, looks formal and respectful of the work and doesn't look like shouting or anger.
    – BoldBen
    Aug 25, 2019 at 1:27

1 Answer 1


According to the Associated Press Stylebook, you should use quotation marks around the titles of books, songs, television shows, computer games, poems, lectures, speeches and works of art.

You don't need to use quotations around the names of magazine, newspapers, the Bible or books that are catalogues of reference materials.

None of them are required to be underlined or italicized.

Considering that this is for text messages, there doesn't seem to be a good reason to apply the rules of MLA or Chicago style. Your priority should be to effectively communicate to your reader, regardless of style. That said, Chicago style includes this recommendation:

When composing Web documents, avoid underlining. Instead, use italics for titles, for emphasis, and for words, letters, and numbers referred to as such. When you write with programs such as email that don’t allow italics, type an underscore mark _like this_ before and after text you would otherwise italicize or underline.

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