Movie Titles In Research Paper

Behind the Stylepunctuationtitles of works

Punctuation with Titles

By Jennifer Rappaport

In a previous Ask the MLA post, we explained how to incorporate titles ending in question marks or exclamation points into works-cited-list entries. But how do you incorporate such titles into your prose? How do you handle titles ending in other punctuation marks? And what should you do about other matters of punctuation related to titles?

Titles Ending in Question Marks or Exclamation Points in Your Prose

At the MLA, we never insert a period after a title ending in a question mark or exclamation point, but we insert a comma if doing so makes a sentence easier to read—for example, when such a title is one item in a series or when the title is contained in a nonrestrictive clause:

But when possible, we prefer to reword:

Titles That Need to Be Shortened 

When we need to shorten a really long title in a works-cited-list entry, we add an ellipsis after the first part of the title up to at least the first noun. If a work has an alternative title, we might include it. If a period is needed, we insert the period before the ellipsis and set the punctuation roman:

If a comma is needed, as it would be when the long title is the title of a container, we insert it after the ellipsis. We set the ellipsis and the comma roman:

In prose, we omit the ellipsis:

Philocophus; or, The Deafe and Dumbe Mans Friend was written by John Bulwer.

Titles Ending in an Ellipsis or Dash

If the ellipsis is part of the title, we add the period or comma after the ellipsis. The ellipsis is set in italics if the title is italicized, but the additional punctuation is set roman:

Work Cited

Reiner, Rob, director. When Harry Met Sally . . . . MGM, 1989.

We follow the same principle if a title ends in a dash:

Work Cited

Dickinson, Emily. “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—.” The Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by R. W. Franklin, Harvard UP, 1999.

Titles and Subtitles

Section 1.2.1 of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook says, “Use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle, unless the title ends in a question mark or an exclamation point. Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle.”

The handbook provides the following examples:

But sometimes titles are not straightforward. In such cases, we follow some additional rules.

For example, when a title is followed by two subtitles, we use two colons:

For works published in English, when a period separates a title and a subtitle on the title page, we change the period to a colon. When a question mark, exclamation point, or dash separates a title and a subtitle on the title page, we leave the original mark:

But if a title contains a title ending in a question mark or exclamation point, we add a colon:

Here the exclamation point is part of the title Absalom, Absalom!, so a colon is needed to separate the title Moby-Dick and Absalom, Absalom! from the subtitle.

In foreign language publications, we follow the source when punctuating titles.

Double Titles

For an alternative or double title in English beginning with or, we follow the first example given in section 8.165 of The Chicago Manual of Style and punctuate as follows:

But no semicolon is needed for a title in English that ends with a question mark or exclamation point:

For double titles of foreign language publications, we follow the source.

Dates in Titles

Unless a date is part of a title’s syntax, we follow section 8.163 of Chicago and set it off with a comma:

Serial Comma in Titles

Contrary to section 8.163 of Chicago, for English-language titles of books published in the United States, we add the serial comma before the conjunction preceding the final item in a series if the comma is missing. Otherwise, we follow the source. The following book was published by Verso in London, so the serial comma is not added:

Works Cited

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed., U of Chicago P, 2016.

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

Published 29 December 2017

Jennifer Rappaport is managing editor, MLA style resources, at the Modern Language Association. She received a BA in English and French from Vassar College and an MA in comparative literature from New York University, where she taught expository writing. Before coming to the MLA, she worked as an editor at a university press and as a freelance copyeditor and translator for commercial and academic publishers.

In citing film and other media, use the citation form for the format in which you watched the work being cited. For example:

If you watched the film Casablanca on DVD and wish to cite it, use the citation format for DVD (not the film original).

If you watched Casablanca in a movie theater, use citation format for film.

If you are citing a documentary or program that you watched on DVD/videotape, but which was originally broadcast on television, use the citation format for DVD/videotape.

If you are citing a trailer for a theatrical movie that you watched on the internet, use the citation format for online resources.

Include the following elements in the following order. Include as much information as is available from the media package or other sources. If you are citing the contribution of a particular performer or the director of a work, you may choose to include the person's name first in the citation (last name, first name)

You may include other data that seem pertinent, such as writer of screenplay or writer of work upon which the film is based, depending on the focus of your research.

DVD, Video or Film Title (italics)

Series Title (no italics or quotation marks)

Director/Filmmaker OR Personal Producer OR Corporate/Institutional Producer.

Other individuals responsible for the work (e.g., writer) if relevant

Key Actors or other Key Performers.

If the work being cited is the original format (i.e. if you've viewed the film in a theater), cite the Studio Name OR Production Company followed by production date ORoriginal release date (If known)

Format (if the version you're citing is video or DVD)

Distributor (i.e. DVD or video distributor)

Distribution Date (separated from the distributor by a comma)

Examples:

Film:

Citizen Kane. Dir. Orson Welles. Perfs. Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten. RKO Radio Pictures, 1941.

Fahrenheit 9/11. Dir. Michael Moore. Lions Gate Films, 2006.

Film, citing a contributor first:

Kazan, Elia, dir. On the Waterfront. Perfs. Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint. Columbia Pictures Corporation, 1954.

Karloff, Boris, perf. Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Perfs. Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clark. Universal Pictures, 1931.

Gore, Al, perf. An Inconvenient Truth. Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Lawrence Bender Productions, 2006.

Rozsa, Miklos, comp. Spellbound. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perfs. Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck. United Artists, 1945.

DVD/Videorecording:

Breathless (À Bout de Souffle). Dir. Jean-Luc Godard. Perfs. Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Liliane David. 1960. DVD. Criterion Collection, 2007.

Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Perfs. Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clark. 1931. DVD. Universal Pictures, 2006.

America's Least Wanted . Prod. Rebecca Haggerty, Susan Levine, Jamie McClelland, Adele Rice and Jaime Yassin. Videocassette. Paper Tiger TV, 1995.

Story of Change. Prod. UNICEF. Filmed and edited by, Byron Blunt. Videocassette. Nairobi, Kenya: UNICEF, 1998.

DVD/Videorecording, citing a contributor first:

Schrader, Paul, writer. Taxi Driver. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perfs. Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster. 1976. DVD. Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1999.

Brooks, Albert, perf. Taxi Driver. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perfs. Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster. 1976. DVD. Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1999.

Wexler, Haskell, cinematographer. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? . Dir. Mike Nichols. Perfs. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis. 1966. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2006.

Faulkner, William, screenplay. To Have and Have Not. Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Dir. Howard Hawks. Perfs. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall. 1945. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2003.

Hemingway, Ernest. To Have and Have Not. Screenplay by William Faulkner. Dir. Howard Hawks. Perfs. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall. 1945. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2003.

DVD/Videorecording, citing additional information about the work or the particular release.

Metropolis. Dir. Fritz Lang. Perfs. Gustav Fröhlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel. 1926. DVD. Restored authorized edition; digitally remastered. Kino International Corporation, 2002.

Man with a Movie Camera (Chelovek s kinoapparatom). Dir. Dziga Vertov. Original music composed and performed by the Alloy Orchestra. 1929. DVD. Kino International Corporation, 1997.

Mindwalk. Based on the book "The Turning Point" by Fritjof Capra. Dir. Bernt Amadeus Capra. Perfs. Liv Ullman, Sam Waterston, John Heard, Ione Skye. DVD Paramount Pictures, 2000.

DVD/Videorecording, citing supplementary material contained on disc:

"Making of the Mutuals" (supplmentary visual essay by Sam Gill). The Chaplin Mutuals. Volume 3. DVD. Image Entertainment, 1995.

"The Early Sound Era" (supplementary material on DVD release of The Jazz Singer). 2006 <cite the date the supplement was produced, if known>. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2007.

DVD/Videorecording of a work originally broadcast on television

Summer of Love. American Experience. Prod. and dir., Gail Dolgin & Vicente Franco. PBS. WGBH in association with KQED. DVD PBS Home Video, 2007.

Medicine at the Crossroads. Prod. 13/WNET and BBC TV. DVD. PBS Home Video, 1993.

"Bringing up Buster." Arrested Development (Season 1). Perfs. Alia Shawkat, David Cross, Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor. DVD. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2006.

"Ku Klux Klan: The Invisible Empire." CBS Reports. Prod. and dir. David Lowe. Correspondent: Charles Kuralt. 1982. DVD. Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2002.

Capote, Truman. "A Christmas Memory." Hallmark Hall of Fame. Dir. Glenn Jordan. Perf. Patty Duke, Piper Laurie, Jeffrey DeMunn. 1997. DVD. Lions Gate, 2000.

DVD/Videorecording of a series originally broadcast on television. Citing installment in series:
  • Title of the episode in quotation marks.
  • Name of the series or program in italics.
  • Director, producer, other significant individuals involved
  • Publication medium (e.g. DVD).
  • Distributor, followed by date of the DVD (NOT the original broadcast)

    "The House We Live In." Race, The Power of an Illusion. Prod., Christine Herbes-Sommers; series prod., Larry Adelman. DVD. California Newsreel, 2003.

    Scorsese, Martin, Exec. Prod. "Feel like going home." Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues. DVD. Seattle, WA: Vulcan Productions, Inc.; Berlin: Road Movies Filmproduktion Gmbh, 2003.

    "When Things Get Tough." The War. Dir. Ken Burns. Prod. Florentine Films and WETA Washington D.C. DVD. PBS Home Video; Paramount Home Entertainment, 2007.

    "Ain't Scared of your Jails, 1960-1961." Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 3. Prod. WGBH Boston; Blackhawk Films, 1986. DVD. PBS Video, 2006.

    Single Performance, Music Videos, and Other Single Work as part of longer DVD, Video, or Film

    "Official War Film W.F. 13." World War II Films. Prod. US Office of War Information. 1943. DVD. Earthstation1.com, 2007.
    or, if emphasizing issuing agency:

    US Office of War Information. "Official War Film W.F. 13." World War II Films. 1943. DVD. Earthstation1.com, 2007.

    Cage, John. "Chess Serenade: For Piano." The Works for Piano. John Cage. Vol. 7. DVD. Mode Productions, 2006

    Calloway, Cab. "Hi-de-ho." Best of Jazz and Blues. 1933. DVD. Kino on Video, c2001.

    The Chemical Brothers. The Work of Director Michel Gondry. DVD. Palm Pictures, 2003.

    "Lindy Hop (1937)." Perf, Mama Lu Parks' Jazz Dancers. Dance Black America. Videocassette. Dance Horizons Video, 1990.

    or, if emphasizing the performers:

    Mama Lu Parks' Jazz Dancers. "Lindy Hop (1937)." Dance Black America. Videocassette. Dance Horizons Video, 1990.

  • Television and Radio

    Include the following elements in the following order.

    Title of episode or segment (if appropriate. In quotes)

    Title of program (italics)

    Title of series (if appropriate. No quotes or underline)

    Producer, Director, Performers, Writer (if known. Inclusion and order depends on emphasis)

    Network

    Local Affiliate and the city

    Date of Broadcast

    Examples :

    Woody Allen: A Documentary. American Masters. Dir. and prod., Robert Weide. PBS. WNET, Channel 13. 10 Feb. 2012.
    Racism 101. Prod. Thomas Lennon. PBS. KQED, San Francisco. 5 Oct. 1988.

    White House Prayer Breakfast. Al Gore (Introduction), Bill Clinton (Address), Rev. Gerald Mann (Closing prayer), Rabbi Alan Cohen (Interview)." C-SPAN, Washington, D.C. 11 Sept. 1998.

    "Torture." Narr. Scott Pelley. Sixty Minutes. CBS. WCBS, New York. 30 March 2008.

    "War Against Iraq Begins." Narr. Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel. Nightline. ABC. KGO, San Francisco, 16 Jan. 1991.

    "Car Crash on I-80." Ten O'clock News. KNBC, Los Angeles. 16 Jan. 1991.

    "The Arsenal of Democracy." The Great Depression; 7. Prod. Blackside, Inc.; Exec Prod Henry Hampton. WGBH, Boston. 1 Mar. 1993.

    Afghanistan: the Great Game. NPR, Washington, D.C. 8 Feb. 1980.

    "Mumia Abu Jamal: 15th Anniversary of His Arrest." Democracy Now. Pacifica. KPFA-FM, Berkeley, CA. 9 Dec. 1996.

    "Trash of the Titans." The Simpsons, Season 9. Dir. Jim Reardon, Mark Kirkland, et al. Voices: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer. CBS. KPIX, San Francisco. 10 September 2006.

    "Emerging Tigers." Narr. Ress Jones. Prod. John Hawke. Asian Business Report. PBS. WEFT, New York. 15 August 1990.

    For advertisements and other broadcasts without a fixed programming schedule, you may chose to include the time of the broadcast:

    Levi Strauss Co. Levi Dockers Advertisement. Aired 10:35pm. CBS. KPIX, San Francisco. 5 August 1999.

    Broadcast Interviews

    Order and punctuation:

    Interviewee (last name first). Interviewer. Title of the program. Network. Local Affiliate, City. Date of Broadcast.

    Examples:

    Clinton, Bill. Interview with Larry King. Larry King Live. CNN. 24 June 2004.

    Cain, Bruce E. Interview. Ten O'Clock News. CBS. KPIX, San Francisco. 10 October 2007.

    Depp, Johnny. Interview with James Lipton. Inside the Actors Studio. PBS. KQED, San Francisco. 7 April 2008.

    Web Other Online Media

    Author's Last Name, First Name OR Corporate/Institutional Author Name <if known>

    Title of Document or File

    Document date OR date of last revision

    Medium (e.g. Online video clip)

    Title of larger web site in which clip is located

    Name of hosting library or agency (if appropriate).

    Access Date

    URL <web address>

    Examples:

    Lucasfilm, Ltd. "Star Wars Trailer." 05 November 1999. Online video clip. Star Wars Official Site. Accessed on 02 April 2008. <http://starwars.com/episode-i/news/trailer/>

    "Daughter Turns Dad In." CNN Video. Online video clip. CNN.com Accessed on 04 April 2008. <http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/crime/2008/04/02/dnt.oh.drunk.driver.dad.wnwo>

    "Free Speech Movement: The Cartop Ralley, Oct. 1-2, 1964." 05 August 1999. Online audio clip. UC Berkeley Library Social Activism Sound Recording Project: The Free Speech Movement and Its Legacy. University of California at Berkeley. Library, Media Resources Center. Accessed on 02 April 2008. <http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/VideoTest/pacificabd0016.02e.xdm>

    "Gene Map of Brain Offers Hope for Alzheimer's, Autism." 29 Nov. 2006. Webcast. The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. PBS. KQED, San Francisco. Accessed on 02 December 2006

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