Shining the Spotlight on AP Style Movie Titles

Did you just land your dream job as an entertainment writer for your favorite blog? Or perhaps you’re an editor for a publication that follows AP style. If so, you’ll need to know how to write AP Style movie titles if you want to be the box office hit your new boss thinks you are.

How To Write Oscar-Worthy AP Style Movie Titles

Before we get to the main plot line, let’s dig into the archives for some foundation.

AP Style: A Brief Overview

The AP Stylebook is the Associated Press’s guide for formatting journalism articles and news writing in the U.S. Many publishers of internet content also favor it for web pages, blogs, and online articles. AP Style promotes content consistency and clarity with rules for grammar, punctuation, usage, and journalistic practices.

It’s important to note, however, that it is not the only popular writing style that you might encounter as a writer or editor.

  • APA Style: The American Psychological Association uses its own formatting style for academic works such as journal articles, research papers, and academic books in the social sciences.
  • CMOS: The Chicago Manual of Style governs authors, editors, and publishers of literary, historical, and philosophical works.

Together, these three rule sets cover virtually every type of publication you might create.

AP Title Case

AP title case is a system of protocols for capitalizing headlines, headings, and (you guessed it) titles of compositions like movies.

Here are the main guidelines for capitalizing AP style titles:

  1. Capitalize all words except for articles (a, and, the), conjunctions (and, but, or, yet, etc.), and prepositions with fewer than four letters (of, for, up, out, etc.).
  2. If conjunctions (because, since, though, etc.) and prepositions (from, with, over, above, etc.) have four or more letters, always capitalize them.
  3. Capitalize all parts of a phrasal verb. Examples include “Clean Up the Script” and “Come Out Of the Dressing Room.” Note that “Get off of My Set” does not meet the criteria because “off” and “of” function as prepositions.
  4. Capitalize “to” in infinitive verbs, such as “I Want To Be an Actor” and “When Are We Doing This Scene?”

Using these guidelines will ensure that the formatting of your AP Style movie titles is consistent in your own content and across others’ journalistic pieces.

Additional Formatting Rules

The AP places composition titles in quotation marks, never in italics. While certain exceptions exist for works such as reference books, software titles, and classical music, none apply to movie titles.

Examples of AP Style Movie Titles

Let’s combine all of these rules and look at some examples of how to write movie titles using AP Stylebook guidelines.

  • The “Everything Everywhere All At Once” actor received an award.
  • The National Board of Review named “Killers of the Flower Moon” the best film of the year.
  • Directed by James Mangold, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” will be the last Indiana Jones movie.
  • “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” grossed over a billion dollars worldwide.
    • (Notice that “The” is part of the film name and placed inside the quotation marks.”
  • The launch of “John Wick: Chapter 4,” which made its debut at SXSW, was bittersweet due to actor Lance Reddick’s unexpected death.


How do you write movie titles in AP Style?

The best rule of thumb is to capitalize every word except for articles, conjunctions, or prepositions of three or fewer letters. There are exceptions for infinitive and phrasal verbs, in which you would capitalize all words in the verb phrase (e.g., “To Act” and “What To Look For in a Script”).

Are titles italicized in AP?

The AP generally does not italicize the titles of movies or other types of compositions; instead, they use quotation marks, such as “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Focus on Consistency: Write Perfect AP Style Movie Titles

Being a top-tier entertainment journalist may not win you an Oscar of your own. Still, no one will be able to question whether you studied for your role as you crank out content with properly written AP Style movie titles.

Leave your questions and comments below if you need help writing movie titles using the AP style guidelines!


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