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Started March 03, 2012 - 05:38 PM


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Punctuating MLKs I have a dream speech

What is the appropriate way to punctuate the title of a famous speech? I need to punctuation MLK's I have a dream speech, but I wasn't sure if I needed to use quotation marks, italics, or simply just capitalize it. What is the right way to do this?

#2 sirotis2004 Replied March 04, 2012 - 08:47 PM


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Before word processing programs became widely-used, you had to underline titles. The use of italics has largely replaced underlining, except in hand-written documents. There are several generally accepted rules governing titles. For long works, or works that stand alone, you use italics. You would italicize books, magazines, television shows and movies. Short works, such as poems, sections of long works and poems, are in quotations. Here is an example: I enjoyed the article "How to File Your Taxes", which appeared in Newsweek.
As you may have noticed, defining exactly where a work fits in these categories is tricky. A speech is a short work, but it also stands alone. I consider a speech to be a lot like a poem, song or short story. If you look at it this way, the title should be in quotations.

#3 Soul Glo Replied March 07, 2012 - 08:35 AM

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I agree with Sirotis2004 on this question. The use of italics has largely replaced the use of underlining for titles. According to MLA standards, speeches do fit in the same category as short stories or poems, so they should use quotation marks to differentiate them from surrounding text. You should also capitalize it, using uppercase letters for the first letter of every word except for articles, prepositions and conjunctions. For instance, it should be the "I Have a Dream Speech" by Martin Luther King, Jr. The important thing to remember is the physical medium in which the information is published. If another author writes an article or book about this speech, the title of that work should use whatever formatting guidelines are appropriate for its own medium (quotations for articles and italics/underline for books).

#4 Guest_Trevor_* Replied October 27, 2012 - 02:04 PM

THE ALDRICH MUSEUM in Ridgefield CT had an exhibit of just blank page with the punctuation of MLK's speech. Lookig for artist name/contact.

#5 guest_response Replied November 08, 2012 - 07:33 AM


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Hi Trevor,

I saw your post and here is a link to more info about the piece you saw by Jenny Yurshansky at the Aldrich.
Its called Projection (I Have a Dream).


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