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Comma after Book Titles: The Definitive Guide

Comma after Book Titles: The Definitive Guide

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Commas are small punctuation marks in the English language that are used in more ways than any other punctuation mark. The use of commas can be daunting since their use is so varied and wide. It seems hard to know when they should or should not be used. That is where this guide can help.


Should commas be used with book titles?

The answer is, sometimes. In fact, there is nothing about a book title that requires a comma with it just because it is a book title. However, depending on how the book title is used in a sentence, it may need a comma or two.

Comma After Book Titles: The Definitive Guide


When exactly does a book title need commas?

If the book title is used as an appositive, it will need commas around it if it falls in the middle of the sentence, or one before it if it is at the end of the sentence.

Take a look at appositives.



An appositive is a noun (or pronoun) that follows another noun and explains it or renames it.

For example:

My dad, George, is an aircraft mechanic.

Dad is the first noun. George is the appositive, the noun that follows dad and renames it.

If the book title is used as an appositive, it will need commas.

Here are some examples of book titles used as appositives:

My favorite book, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, is required reading in most schools.

Because the book title is further explaining or renaming the noun book, it is set off with commas.

Here is a book title used as an appositive at the end of a sentence.

I went to the library looking for a certain book,How to Win Friends and Influence People.

In this example, the book title describes the noun book but ends the sentence, so only one comma is needed.


Items in a series

Another time a book title will need a comma is when it is part of a list or series. Commas are used to separate items in a list. Notice the example below.

The Searcher, The Vanishing Half, and Walk the Wire were all on the New York Times Best Seller list this year.

Commas separate the book titles in this sentence because they are part of a list.

Certain writing styles, such as AP (Associated Press) style do not add a comma before the conjunction and last item in the list.

British English rules state that the final comma (also called the Oxford comma and the serial comma) are only to be added for clarity if needed.

Without the serial comma, the example sentence would look like this:

The Searcher, The Vanishing Half and Walk the Wire were all on the New York Times Best Seller list this year.

Basically, book titles do not need commas just because they are book titles. If they are used in a way in the sentence that would generally have a comma they will need one because of the part of speech they are being used as.