Proper Names

Q. I am editing an article for publication. The author is discussing a Yiddish tale entitled Simkhe Plakhte. The title is also the name of the central character in this tale, and the author also uses it as a genre, as in “the basic narrative elements of the Simkhe Plakhte tale.” Should “Simkhe Plakhte” be treated as a title and italicized, or is it used as a general term? In general, if a writer uses the title of a folktale as a genre, does it need to be treated as a title?

A. It’s usual to use italics for a title but roman for a genre or character. There are times when it doesn’t matter which you choose: you can read the Harry Potter books or the Harry Potter books. For these gray areas, pick a default style and note it in your style sheet.