Movie Title in Essays: How to Write Them in Text

Do you italicize movie titles?

Students ask this question for essay writing and referring to cinematography works. Formatting rules are more or less universal here, so they’ll be easy to remember.

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to write movie titles for various citation styles.

Are Movies Italicized?

Yes, please use italics for a movie title in essays (1) of all citation formats except for AP. When writing in AP, use quotations.

Another exception is the movie series. When writing the name of the series episode, put it in quotation marks.


  •  In “The One with the Fake Monica” of Friends, Ross tries to get his monkey Marcel into the zoo. 

“The One with the Fake Monica” is the episode’s name, so we put it in quotation marks. Friends is the name of the whole series, so we italicize it. If we wrote this sentence in AP style, “Friends” would be in double quotations, too.

Keep reading for more details.

How to Write a Movie Title in an Essay

Let’s find out how to put a movie title in an essay. To do that properly, consider the citation style you’ll use for the paper.

Differences are minor but still worthy to know and follow. Here they go:


All main parts of speech start with a capital letter in movie names. Exceptions:

  • Determiners like definite and indefinite articles (the, a, an)
  • Short prepositions and conjunctions (those shorter than four letters): of, on, in, and, etc.

Use uppercase for the above only if a movie title begins or ends with the article or short prepositions. Subtitles start with a capital letter, too.

  • The First Slam Dunk; A Thousand and One; The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
  • Huesera: The Bone Woman; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem; John Wick: Chapter 4

APA, MLA, and Chicago Styles for Movie Titles

Formatting in-textExample
APATitle Case, Except for Articles and Short Prepositions (Below Four Letters) Within the NameAll Quiet on the Western Front
MLATitle Case, Except for Articles and Short Prepositions (Below Four Letters) Within the NameHello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
ChicagoTitle Case, Except for Articles and Short Prepositions (Below Four Letters) Within the NameThe Man from Toronto

Need more? Check:

How to Write Book Titles in Essays
How to Cite a Movie in APA Format

Italics vs. Double Quotations

The AP style is the one prescribing quotation marks, not italics for movie names. When writing in AP, format films like this:

  • “Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend”
  • “On the Line”
  • “The School for Good and Evil”


Underline movie titles in papers only when writing them by hand. Since you can’t italicize your handwriting, it will help you highlight film names.

Like this:


If a movie name includes punctuation, italicize or put it inside quotation marks.

  • Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
  • “Wham!” (AP style)
  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
  • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Citing Movie Titles in References

FormatDirector’s Last name, Initials. (Director). (Release Year). Title [Film]. Studio.Title. Directed by First name Last name, Performances by Actors’ First name Last name ( 2-3 performers), Studio, Release Year.Director Last name, First name, director. Title. Distributor, Release Year. Movie length. URL (if taken online).
ExampleScorsese, M. (Director). (2023). Killers of the Flower Moon [Film]. Apple Studios.Killers of the Flower Moon. Directed by Martin Scorsese, Performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone, Apple Studios, 2023.Scorsese, Martin, director. Killers of the Flower Moon. Apple Studios, 2023. 206 min.

How Do You Write a Movie Title in an Essay?

Now you know how to write a title of a movie in an essay. Why not take your favorite film and craft a story about it? The best way to remember rules is to practice them, agree?

Follow the guidelines, stick to the citation style — and you’ll write titles correctly.