Writing The Name Of A Painting In An Essay

Simply put: no.

APA's Publication Manual (2010) indicates that, in the body of your paper, you should use italics for the titles of:

  • books
  • periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers)
  • films
  • videos
  • TV shows
  • Microfilm publications

Beyond APA's specific examples, know that certain types of titles are almost always written in italics. 

Use italics in a word-processed document for the types of titles you'd underline if you were writing by hand.  A general rule of thumb is that within the text of a paper, italicize the title of complete works but put quotation marks around titles of parts within a complete work. 

The table below isn't comprehensive, but it's a good starting point

Titles in ItalicsTitles Placed in "Quotation Marks"
Title of a periodical (magazine, journal, newspaper)              Title of article in a periodical
Title of a book   Title of a chapter in a book
Title of a movie or playName of an act or scene in a movie or a play
Title of a television or radio series   Title of an episode within a tv or radio series
Title of a musical album or CDTitle of a song
Title of a long poemTitle of a short poem
Names of operas or long musical composition
Names of paintings and sculptures

Title of a short story

On an APA-style reference page, the rules for titles are a little different.  In short, a title you would italicize within the body of a paper will also be italicized on a reference page.  However, a title you'd place in quotation marks within the body of the paper (such as the title of an article within a journal) will be written in normal lettering and will not be in quotation marks.

Here are some examples:

Smith (2001) research is fully described in the Journal of Higher Education.

Smith's (2001) article "College Admissions See Increase" was published in the Journal of Higher Education after his pivotal study on the admissions process.

Italics and Underlining

Italics and underlining are like flashers on road signs. They make you take notice. Italics and underlining can be used interchangeably, although usually underlining is used when something is either hand written or typed; if using a computer you can italicize. If you start using italics, don't switch to underlining within the same document.

Italics or underlining are used most often: for titles of longer works: books, magazines, newspapers, films, TV shows, a complete symphony, plays, long poems, albums:

Albert Borgmann's book, Crossing the Postmodern Divide

the TV show Frasier

the film It Happened One Night

the magazine Adirondack Life

the Beatles album Abbey Road

Italics or underlining are also used for titles of paintings, sculptures, ships, trains, aircraft, and spacecraft:

Van Gogh's painting Starry Night

Daniel Chester French's sculpture The Spirit of Life

U.S.S. Saratoga

Apollo 13

Microsoft Word

Tip: Shorter works, such a book chapters, articles, sections of newspapers, short stories, poems, songs, and TV episodes are placed in quotation marks.

Neither italics nor quotation marks are used with titles of major religious texts, books of the Bible, or classic legal documents:

the Bible Pentateuch the Koran the Declaration of Independence

Use italics or underlining when using words from another language:

Yggdrasil avatar Yahweh sabra

Tip: Many foreign words have become absorbed into our language and should not be italicized or underlined. When in doubt, consult the dictionary. Also, common Latin abbreviations should not be italicized or underlined:

etc. i.e. p.s. viz.

Use italics or underlining to emphasize, stress, or clarify a word or letter in a sentence or when using a word as a linguistic symbol rather than for its meaning:

It was the first time I felt appreciated by my children.

I asked you to articulate your findings, not create a flow chart.

He claimed his data to be accurate, but accurate is a word he often interprets loosely. My daughter's report card showed five B's, two B+'s and one glorious A.

Questions or feedback about ESC's Online Writing Center? Contact us at Learning.Support@esc.edu.

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