When you use sources in your writing, inevitably, you will have to mention the title of the source. When you discuss any work of literature or cinema in writing, print the titles of the pieces appropriately. These rules apply to your Works Cited page as well.
The Rule: In the U.S., it is standard practice to capitalize the first letter of each major word in a title. Connecting words like "and," "of," "the," "to," and "for" are not capitalized unless they begin the title. (NOTE: The underlines are just for emphasis here.)
The Sun Also Rises
The St. Martin's Guide to Writing
The Sound and the Fury
"Pater Familias, Mater Familias, and the Gendered Semantics of the Roman Household"
The Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers
The Rule: For the titles of long works such as books (novels, collections of short stories, readers, school textbooks), epic poems, plays, newspapers, journals, magazines, movies, and databases, either italicize or underline the title. Italics look more professional, and all word processors will allow you to use them, so I recommend them over the underline.
Avoid Mixing: Do not mix underline and italics in one paper or use both for one title, even on the Works Cited page. Either/or is the rule. My advice? Choose italics and forget the underline, which can create problems with punctuation marks.
Notes about Titles on Works Cited Pages:
Academic Search Complete (research database)
The Odyssey (epic poem)
A Raisin in the Sun (multi-act play)
The Stories of John Cheever (short story collection)
Midnight Cowboy (movie)
FirstSearch (research database)
The New York Times (newspaper)
Classical Philology (scholarly journal)
The Art Bulletin (scholarly journal)
The Journal of Theological Studies (scholarly journal)
The Rule: For the titles of short works such as short stories, essays, newspaper articles, and lyric poems, use "quotation marks." Do not use italics in the title of a short work unless a title of a long work appears in the short work.
"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" (short story)
"The Bull in the Colosseum: A Study of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises" (essay with the title of a long work embedded)
"The Warren Cup: Homoerotic Love and Symposial Rhetoric in Silver" (scholarly essay)
"Richard Cory" (lyric poem)
"The Court's Dilemma" (editorial in a newspaper)
Printing titles correctly is evidence of your knowledge of appropriate form in writing. When correct, your readers don't notice (it's a thankless job; when incorrect, it's glaringly evident. So use proper form and thank yourself for doing the right thing.
Gary Enns, Professor of English, Cerro Coso Community College