Posted by: Jack Henry | February 14, 2019

Editor’s Corner: How to Write About a Film Series

The Academy Awards® are coming up in 10 days, and there’s one question on every movie-lover’s mind: According to The Chicago Manual of Style, the title of an individual film should be italicized (for example, Jaws 3-D). But what about the name of a film series (for example, “the Jaws tetralogy”)?

I found an answer on the Modern Language Association (MLA) website: How do I style the title of a trilogy or informally titled series? Although we do not use the MLA Handbook, I think their advice makes sense. Basically, the decision to italicize depends on whether the series is named after a film in the series (which is italicized) as opposed to, say, a character’s name (which is not italicized).

MLA says, “Star Wars is the name of the first movie released in the series. Since the title is foundational, italicize the series name: Star Wars movies. If you are writing about the Nancy Drew books, style the series name roman, since ‘Nancy Drew’ does not appear in the titles of the individual books. If you are discussing the Harry Potter books, you could style the series name either way—Harry Potter books or Harry Potter books—since the series is associated with the first title in the series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and also with the character’s name.”

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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