This text is taken directly from the MLA Handbook, 7th ed. (Section 3.6.1).
Capitalization and Punctuation
Whenever you cite the title of a published work in your research paper, take the title from the title page, not, for example, from the cover or from a running head at the top of a page. Do not reproduce any unusual typographic characteristics, such as special capitalization or lowercasing of all letters. A title page may present a title designed like one of the following examples:
These titles should appear in a research paper as follows:
Modernism and Negritude
Reading Sites: Social Difference and Reader Response
Turner’s Early Sketchbooks
The rules for capitalizing titles are strict. In a title or a subtitle, capitalize the first word, the last word, and all principal words, including those that follow hyphens in compound terms. Therefore, capitalize the following parts of speech:
Do not capitalize the following parts of speech when they fall in the middle of a title:
Use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle, unless the title ends in a question mark or an exclamation point. Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle.
The following examples illustrate how to capitalize and punctuate a variety of titles.
The Teaching of Spanish in English-Speaking Countries
Storytelling and Mythmaking: Images from Film and Literature
The Artist as Critic
Whose Music? A Sociology of Musical Language
“Italian Literature before Dante”
“What Americans Stand For”
“Marcel Proust: Archetypal Music—an Exercise in Transcendence”
When the first line of a poem serves as the title of the poem, reproduce the line exactly as it appears in the text.
Dickinson’s poem “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—” contrasts the everyday and the momentous.