Should Merchant of Venice be underlined or put into quotation marks? This is being used in terms of an essay (not only as a title but in the essay itself). My teacher has taught us to underline books and to put short stories into quotations. However she never talked about plays, which has left me confused.

  • Some styles would italicise [The] Merchant of Venice. Nov 11, 2020 at 14:09
  • 2
    When? How? In what context? This question needs more details.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 11, 2020 at 14:28
  • Sorry, my bad. This is going to be written in an essay and the topic is based on The Merchant of Venice.
    – Kash
    Nov 11, 2020 at 15:46
  • I would not underline it, unless it is underlined because it is a title. Be consistent. What style does your teacher use? Nov 11, 2020 at 16:00
  • My teacher wants us to underline book and put quotations around short stories. However he never mentioned what to do for plays.
    – Kash
    Nov 11, 2020 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


This may vary from place to place depending on which style guide your institution follows, but here is the rule from the Chicago Manual of Style:

When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized; titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.

So, because the Merchant of Venice is a complete, free-standing play (as opposed to a part of a larger work), it should be italicized.

If you're using an old-style mechanical typewriter (or even handwriting) that does not allow italicization, then underlining is an adequate substitute, but italicization should be easily available to you if you're using a computer.

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