When to Use Italics - Grammar and Writing Guide

When to Use Italics - Grammar and Writing Guide

Are you done with essay writing and want to ensure its proper formatting? Have no clue when you are supposed to italicize the text and where the quotation marks are necessary? If it is the case, then this guide will be of great service to you and will help you understand when to use italics and when they are not needed in the text. Follow easy rules and deliver flawless assignments instead of guessing and getting lower grades for brilliantly written papers.

Why do we need to use italics?

Italics are typically used to emphasize titles of stand-alone works or to distinguish certain words from others within your writing. Of course, different academic formatting styles have different rules for using italics. So you need to understand that APA text formatting will not be identical to the formatting of the very same text in MLA. As a writer, you need to follow the general guidelines and stay consistent within your work.

Academic paper formatting can be a challenging task. We know it too well. Unfortunately, the cases when brilliant content brings a C or even a D to a student due to formatting mistakes are not so rare. So even if you manage to write a meaningful and comprehensive, it is highly recommended to have an extra eye on your piece to perfect its formatting. And our academic experts are ready for the challenge. They do know all the specs of academic formatting and will detect/ fix any formatting mistakes within a couple of minutes. Let’s perfect your writing together!

The art of using italics

There are no hard grammar rules for using italics; they are a matter of a style. Technically, you can use any formatting you wish, but adhering to a particular citation format helps you to ensure that readers understand what you intended to “say.” To prevent confusion, we have developed the formatting and punctuation guidelines for different types of works so that you could ensure the clarity of your writing.

By the way, if you are working on a scientific paper, this detailed writing guide will become your source of inspiration and will make the process easier.

Do we italicize titles?

Yes and no. It all depends on a title type and the work it addresses. For example, books are considered complete bodies of work; therefore, book titles should be italicized. Keep in mind that italics are only used when the book title is surrounded by other text in your paper. Thus, by using italics, you make the title stand apart from the other text so that the reader could easily notice it.

At this point, it is important to differentiate between the titles of poems, short stories, newspaper articles, and episodes (for television shows). Use quotation marks for titles of these shorter pieces, with no italics being applied to the text.

There are some other types of titles that you should italicize instead of underlining in your writing:

  • Titles of journals and magazines - Georgia Review, New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, Crazyhorse;
  • Title of plays - Long Day's Journey Into Night, Waiting for Godot, Death of a Salesman, Long Day's Journey Into Night;
  • Titles of long musical pieces - Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana; Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard's Castle; Schubert’s String Quintet; Mozart’s Requiem; Beethoven’s Symphony No...;
  • Titles of movies - Slingblade, Shine, The Invisible Man;
  • Titles of radio programs and TV shows - Dateline, Seinfeld, Fresh Air, Car Talk;
  • Titles of artworks - Mona Lisa, The Starry Night, The Kiss, The Last Supper;
  • Titles of long poems - Longfellow's Evangeline, Milton's Paradise Lost, Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

As an exception from the rule, we do not italicize the titles of long sacred works, such as the Koran and the Bible. Titles of sacred book chapters (Genesis, Revelation, 1 Corinthians) are not italicized either. The same rules apply to formatting of a bibliography page of your academic paper.

Do we italicize names of aircraft and ships?

When writing names of vessels, aircraft, and ships in the text of your work, make sure they are italicized. Thus, every time you need to write Titanic or Apollo 11, use italics for these and make sure they stand out from the text around.

Do we use italics to emphasize the text?

Another use case of italics is to emphasize a single word or phrase in your writing. For example, “I don’t really care what she thinks!” Thus, by making use of this typographical technique, you make sure the one places the right accents when reading your essay.

Just like the commas, italics play a strategically important role when it comes to referring to words as nouns or objects. Thus, by utilizing some phrases, you can logically offset them from the rest of the sentence so that a reader could focus on meaningful content. For example, “The word worried has a different connotation than the word stressed.”

Do we italicize foreign words?

Foreign words that haven’t been adopted by English should be italicized. So every time you use a French word in your paper, apply italics to it. For example: “She doesn’t know how to respond when someone says bonjour.” Commonly used foreign words, like alma mater, don’t necessarily need italics in a sentence. However, it won’t be a mistake if you emphasize them in the text.

It is sometimes difficult to understand what formatting should be applied to different parts of your paper. And it sucks! The wrong use of italics can lead to misunderstanding or poor-message delivery to your reader. No matter if you are working on an academic essay or a journal publication, it is critically important to ensure that all the necessary accents are in the right places and no italics use cases are missed out. We can become your strictest editors and do all the fixes for you.

Italicize or not italicize?

Question whether to use italics or not? The exact rules for using italics depend on the specific style guide you’re using. If you’re not adhering to a specific style guide, the above guidelines are a safe bet. The most important rule is to be consistent within your work not to confuse the reader.