Poetry is one of the world’s most passionate art forms. From great love to overwhelming sorrow, you can really bring your emotions to life through words. While poetry is an art form, there are rules to be followed.
There are rules in each form of writing. From songwriting to novels, these rules must be followed to uphold a certain standard and appreciation for the art form. And one of these rules is to italicize the titles of our work.
In this article, we discuss if the titles of poems are italicized, why we do it, and any other rules that must be followed in the art of poetry. So, prepare your pencil, and let’s get to it!
Do Poets Italicize Their Poem Titles?
The short answer is yes, poets do italicize their titles. They may also underline the title to make it stand out.
Long poems are usually in italics. Additionally, when writing on a computer, italicizing words is simpler. Don’t italicize when writing on paper or a whiteboard. Instead, emphasize the title.
Underlining and italicizing are often interchangeable and are of personal preference. The objective is to make the words in the title different from the words in the body of the work.
The Odyssey is an illustration of a single, lengthy poem whose title requires italicization. The Iliad and The Aeneid are two further examples.
However, not every poem needs its title to be italicized. A rule of thumb is that the poem’s title should be italicized if the length of the poem is subjective.
If it is the length of a book, you should definitely use italics. If it is the length of a napkin, you may prefer to simply underline the title.
It is a simple rule of thumb to remember yet so many poets make the mistake of forgetting to do it or feel their poem is not the correct length.
Why Are Poem Titles Italicized?
Back in the times of Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, there was little to no urgency in the way a written document was formatted. In today’s society, we use underlining, bold, quotation marks to emphasize our emotions and thoughts on a piece of paper.
Italicize poem titles are mostly used to distinguish them from other content. The content stands out from the surrounding words when it is italicized. As a result, it makes the italicized text stand out to the reader.
Italics are not a font that is often known for being daring and striking when reading a document. It is extremely lackluster compared to bold or understanding. But it draws just enough attention to make the text different, making it perfect for the title of a poem.
Why Underlining Replaced Italics
While italics were a common practice for poets many years ago, today it is considered outdated and traditional. It was more common for typewriters and handwritten documents but in the days of laptops, tablets, and smartphones, it is not seen so often.
It can be difficult to distinguish italicized writing when a document was handwritten.
Especially when the common handwriting style of calligraphy gave the letters a slight tilt. And so it became easier and more popular to underline the titles of works than to italicize them.
Or if you are feeling a little more traditional you can highlight the text and click on the small “i” symbol to italicize the text.
Alternatively, you can italicize the highlighted text by pressing the letter “I” on the keyboard while holding down the Ctrl key.
When Not To Italicize A Poems Title
As mentioned above, the time to italicize a poem is dependent on the length of the poem. If it is a short poem it is common practice to use quotation marks in its place.
Generally speaking, quotation marks work best for condensed articles. It is employed in short tales, poetry, articles, and essays as well as book chapters.
Another time when you shouldn’t use italics for the title is when it is not a standalone body of work. If it is becoming a collection of poems or an anthology then you want to avoid using italics for the title.
The same holds true for journal articles that are published. The individual chapters of a published text are not available. Instead, you publish a book’s various chapters under a single document.
Ensure the poem is a lengthy piece of standalone writing when italicizing or underlining the title.
Poem Titles Explained
The title of any written document is the first thing the reader sees. Especially, when it comes to shorter bodies of work such as poems.
Whether it is a lengthy or standalone poem, authors always put the title on the front cover of their book. You can locate the shorter poems at the top.
The title is often what gives the reader the first impression of the work they are about to read. This means that authors will spend hours, days, and even weeks coming up with a simple yet catching title.
The first letters of the words in the title are typically written in capital letters. Only words that are part of the title would not be in capital letters. This goes for any written document.
The majority of authors would declare that writing the title to their work is the hardest part of the writing process. You want to capture the reader’s attention without giving much away.
A bad title could be damaging to the success of the work before the reader has read the first line.
So, are the titles for poems italicized? Only if the work is of considerable length. Otherwise, the title is often left in quotation marks.
In today’s practice, it is much more common to underline the title of a work but if you are feeling like a poet in the 1600s feel free to italicize your title. Only if it is a long standalone piece of work.
Now you are ready to come up with the perfect title and have it formatted to perfection!