When to Use Italics in Your Writing | Assignment Collections | assignmentcollections.com


We live in a world of cyber communi-casting, telecommuting, and all-important interwebs browsing. Italics are used to distinguish parts of a title, word, or phrase. It is fairly easy to identify italics by the manner in which they are written. Italicized words, phrases, and titles are often capitalized while emphasizing these words with an exclamation point. 

So, this means that if you’re writing a book fiction title and you decide to italicize it, then you would use an exclamation point in addition to the letter A before your book title. The same goes for character names; it’s essential to make sure that all the words you have included within those characters’ names are italicized as well.

So, when to use italics in your writing? There are several factors that affect this decision. Some words and phrases deserve to be emphasized, whereas others should use a different style of emphasis. The purpose of this guide is to help you decide if you should use italics in your writing.

Why Do We Need Italics?

Most commonly, titles and names of certain works or items are set in italics to make them stand out from the rest of the phrase. You can also use italics for further emphasis, though this is not recommended. Intense usage of this feature dilutes the font’s impact and distracts the reader.

When to Use Italics for Titles?

When Should You Use Italics in a Title? Below are a few times to use Italics in titles:

  • The titles of books are written in italics.
  • Long poems Full-length plays Music albums
  • Anything with divisions, such as anthologies or compilations
  • Newspapers, magazines, and movies
  • Television and radio programs
  • Ships (With ships and other craft, the USS or the HMS is not italicized.)
  • Airplanes and Spacecraft
  • Some scientific names for trains
  • Cases in Court
  • Artworks Musical compositions such as operas and musicals Computer and video games

Italicizing is simple on a computer, but what if you’re writing anything by hand? Underlining is still utilized in such instances, and it is the same as writing a title in italics. However, you should not italicize and underline the same title.

Emphasizing Italics in Book Titles

Grammar rules don’t actually dictate how you format titles. It’s only a matter of taste. You can highlight whatever you want, whatever you want—but doing so may make your work practically incomprehensible. Style guides are used by corporations, institutions, and publications to ensure consistency and focus.

Book titles are typically grouped with other large, freestanding, or complete works of work, such as newspapers, symphonies, or magazines.

Titles of such publications should be italicized when appearing in the text, according to style standards that specify the use of italics, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or the AMA Manual of Style.

Underlining is still used by some writers when italicizing is not an option, but it is widely regarded as archaic. It’s also worth noting that similar rules apply to titles that appear in a text and are surrounded by other words.

Italics and underlining are not required for titles at the top of the page or on the front cover. Their isolation from the rest of the text is enough to pique the reader’s interest. When the title of your thesis appears on the cover, you do not need to italicize it.

Uses of Italics

Italics are used for the following:

  • To emphasize the importance of a word or phrase, as in the case of titles of specific works of literature or art Books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, plays, epic poems, films, television shows, musical compositions, choreographic works, radio shows, visual artworks, comic strips, and computer programs all fall within this category. Be sure to italicize the entire title, including any question marks that may appear inside it.
  • Name specific automobiles: Ships, planes, space trains, and airplanes.
  • Inserting a foreign term into an English document with a specific meaning
  • The need to use proper scientific terminology when referring to animals and plants
  • To name individual letters, words, and numbers: Putting them in quotation marks has the same effect.
  • Use bold text sparingly. It should only be used when there’s something special happening within the sentence itself (such as an important word or phrase). If there isn’t anything special about what you’re saying, then don’t use it!

Italicizing Examples

When to use italics in text guidelines vary, as do many other rules in the English language. There are some general guidelines for employing italics. However, while submitting a school assignment or a publication, you should adhere to the recommended style guide or any special style requirements provided to you.

In informal writing, italics can be used to emphasize a certain word or phrase in a statement. This is not acceptable in academic writing, yet it is frequent in many other sorts of writing.

She was the only girl in the class who received a perfect score on the exam.

Why am I always the last to find out?

Italicize the names or titles of magazines, websites and other publications. 

Journal of Higher Education academic journals magazines Time, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan newspapers USA Today, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle website names YourDictionary.com, GolfLink.com, LoveToKnow.com

Italicize the formal titles of some vessels, such as trains, ships, aircraft, and spacecraft.

Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas 

NASA’s Challenger 

USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier

It is important to note that the prefix for a vessel name, such as USS, is not italicized; only the vessel’s actual name should be displayed in italics.

When a word in a text is used in a language different than the one in which the text is written, the phrase should be italicized.

The Spanish term for a cat is gato.

Mi Amor, I love you so much

  • Standalone Written Work Titles

Italics are ideal for titles of stand-alone pieces of writing, such as novels and plays. Specific published versions of sacred writings are included, but not generic references to such texts.

Elements of Style, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Horton Hears a Who! 

Romeo and Juliet, Waiting for Godot, and Uncle Vanya.

NIV Zondervan Study Bible and The New Oxford Annotated Bible

Shorter works, such as poems, short stories, or articles, are typically expressed in quotation marks rather than italics in formal writing. However, some websites or other media employ italics instead of quotation marks, preferring to quote a source’s exact words.

  • Other Creative Works Titles

Italicize titles given to solo creative works.

Artworks – Monet’s Water Lilies, Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa Record/CD titles – Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, Coldplay’s Parachutes

Batman, Casablanca, and Twilight

American Idol, BBC Woman’s Hour, and The Simpsons are all popular television programmes.

247 Sports Radio on Campus and the Pioneering Today podcast are two examples of radio programs/podcasts.

In formal writing, components of written works, such as podcast episodes or individual songs, are often given in quotation marks. Italics, on the other hand, are frequently used on websites or in other publications where quotation marks are reserved strictly for quoted content.

How Can you Differentiate Between Italics and Bold Text?

  1. There are two ways to differentiate between italics and bold text. The first way is by the use of quotation marks. Quotation marks indicate that a piece of text has been quoted from somewhere else, while the bold text indicates that you are writing about something in an essay or article. 
  2. The second way to differentiate between italics and bold text is by the use of different font styles. For example, if you want to make sure that your reader knows that you are writing about something in an essay or article, then you can use italics instead of just using normal text. This will make it clear to them that this is not just a normal sentence, but rather a quote from someone else’s work on the same topic as yours (in this case, in this case).
  3. Bold text is a bold font style in which the capital letters are larger than normal, or it may be created by adding extra weight to the letterforms. The bold text has a thicker appearance than italicized text which is a lighter version of the regular font size.
  4. Bold text uses the same font size as normal text, but the letters are larger and more pronounced than they would be in regular text. This makes it stand out from regular text more easily and draws more attention to whatever you’re writing about (and who doesn’t want that?).

In contrast, the italicized text uses a smaller font size than normal text and has a slanted shape to the letters like an italicized letter does within a word. It’s important to note that there are two different types of italics: uncials (the most common type) and san serifs (more commonly seen in newspaper headlines). Uncials are lowercase letters with curved strokes while san serifs are uppercase letters with straight lines or angled strokes.

  1. While italics are usually reserved for titles, subtitles, headings and quotations, bold text can be applied to most types of writing. In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to differentiate between two different types of paragraphs in a document or article.
  2. Bold and italicized text are treated as different types of block elements. The former is generally used for headings; the latter for emphasis. Both types of text can be used for emphasizing information in a document, but they each have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to formatting and design.

What are Some Common Mistakes Made When Using Italics?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this long list of regulations and caveats. What’s more, in addition to the aforementioned, you should keep in mind the following. Do not forget:

You shouldn’t italicize the titles of music, books, or poems

Use direct quotations instead. To illustrate, you could say something like, “Fire & Desire” by Drake from his album Views is one of my favourite songs.

You should not italicize the Bible, the Quran, or any other religious literature. The initial letter of each of these phrases is capitalized.

Avoid using underlining and italics in tandem

It’s true that there’s a lot to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to italicize a certain piece of text; however, the good news is that you can always check online or consult this list to see if a given piece of text should be italicized.

Italics should not be used for titles and names of brief works such as chapters, articles, manuscripts, essays, short stories and poems, songs, speeches, and Web sites; instead, quotation marks should be used.

Anglicized versions of foreign nouns should not be italicized

Avoid using italics when referring to portions within significant religious writings.

When used excessively or incorrectly, the italicized text loses its impact, so be careful not to overdo it.

The use of strong vocal stress is not encouraged

One of the most common incorrect uses of italics is this. If you want emphasis, don’t use italics, bold, or all caps; use sentence structure instead. I have a whole entire topic dedicated to explaining how to do this.

To sum up, the point is that italics aren’t necessary for readers to understand what you’re saying. Also, it’s annoying to constantly tell the reader to emphasize a particular word. It’s the words, not the typeface, that should be emphasized.

You shouldn’t put too much stress on comparisons

The use of italics is a form of verbal emphasis that presumes the reader is too dumb to recognize the key phrases on his or her own.

When I claim that being honest is very different from being authentic, it should be obvious which two words I’m contrasting. They won’t be highlighted any differently by being italicized. Do your own checking out: However, being honest and sincere are two different things altogether.

Common foreign words to avoid

Almost every word in the English language has an etymological or morphological origin in another language, however certain terms may seem more “foreign” than others. After a word or phrase has into general usage, whether it was originally written in French, Spanish, German, Latin, or any other language, it is no longer set apart from the surrounding text by being italicized.

  • En route
  • En suite
  • Café au lait
  • Anime
  • Feng shui
  • Fleur-de-lis
  • Cassole
  • Karma

Bottom Line

Thinking of italics in terms of layout rather than appending style to a word or passage can help to better clarify when they are needed and appropriate. Once you know how and when to use italics, your writing will improve enough to justify the small amount of effort spent on these adjustments. And even if you fail to remember every single instance where you should use them, at least you will have a better grasp as to when proper italicizing would be beneficial.


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