8 Work titles in text

8.7 Works of art

8.7.1 General principles

The formal titles of works of visual art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, posters, and prints, are set in italic. Full capitalization is still usual, though with longer titles there may be difficulties in deciding which words should be capitalized:

Joseph Stella, Brooklyn Bridge
The Mirror of Venus
the etching Adolescence (1932) and the painting Dorette (1933)
the huge chalk and ink drawing St Bride’s and the City after the Fire, 29th December 1940
the wartime poster Your Talk may Kill your Comrades (1942)

Consistently minimal capitalization is also possible for works of art:

Petrus Christus’s Portrait of a young man

Works may be referred to either by a formal title or by a more descriptive form:

he painted a portrait entitled James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormonde, when Lord Ossory
he painted a portrait of James Butler (later second duke of Ormonde) when the subject was Lord Ossory

Titles bestowed by someone other than the artist or sculptor are usually given in roman with no quotation marks:

La Gioconda

the Venus de Milo

Works that discuss numerous works of art need consistent conventions and abbreviations for the parenthetical presentation of such information as the medium, dimensions, date of creation or date and place of first exhibition, and the current ownership or location of the works mentioned:

Andromeda (bronze, c.1851; Royal Collection, Osborne House, Isle of Wight)
The Spartan Isadas (exh. RA, 1827; priv. coll.)

8.7.2 Series of works of art

Place the titles of series of unique works of art in roman type with maximal capitalization and without quotation marks. Series of published prints may be given italic titles:

a series of paintings of children, Sensitive Plants, with such names as Sweet William and Mary Gold
his finest series of prints, Gulliver’s Travels and Pilgrim’s Progress

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New Hart's Rules


Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms