Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. When referring to the title of an article that incorrectly uses single quotation marks around the name of a movie or book, is it OK to silently change those to italics (in text, bib, and notes)? Thanks!

A. Quotation marks within an article title are normally retained when that title is mentioned or cited. For example, you might refer to the New Yorker article by Lauren Michele Jackson that was published online on March 26, 2024, with the following title:

Screenshot of a New Yorker article title. The title is in all caps, and the words “Huckleberry Finn” are in quotation marks.

We’d refer to this title by putting the whole thing in double quotation marks: “Percival Everett’s Philosophical Reply to ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ ”

Note that we’ve made two adjustments in our version of the title: (1) the all caps of the original have been changed to initial caps according to the rules outlined in CMOS 8.159, and (2) the double quotation marks, which follow New Yorker style for setting off the title of a novel (where Chicago specifies italics), have been changed to single—but we didn’t delete them.

And in some cases, quotation marks are added to a title within a title—even for titles of books and movies and the like, which would normally get italics in Chicago style. For example, a title page in a book might read as follows:

Title of a Book on Shakespeare’s Hamlet

But when mentioning or citing this title, we’d do this (see CMOS 14.94):

Title of a Book on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”

In sum, don’t assume quotation marks are always wrong for the title of a book or the like, even in Chicago style. See also CMOS 6.11.