How To Use Italics
How To Use Italics
VideoJug presents a short film on the most appropriate and correct way to use italics in English. Learn when to use this aspect of punctuation with VideoJug's help.
Step 1: Emphasis or contrast
The most common use for italics is to draw attention to a particular part of a text in order to show emphasis or contrast. For example:
He was so full he couldn't finish the last cookie even though it looked absolutely delicious.
He had managed to eat, not nine, but ten whole cookies.
The first example shows emphasis, the second shows contrast. This is the standard way to do this, so try and avoid using quotation marks or any other form of punctuation for this purpose.
Step 2: Titles
Another use for italics occurs when writing titles of complete works, for example books, films or musical compositions.
I just can't stop reading The Collins Pocket English Dictionary
We watched Halloween last night, and it scared the pants off us!
There is an exception to this rule, which is that the names of holy books are not written in italics, for example the (Holy) Bible.
Step 3: Foreign words
Italics can also be used when foreign words are talked about in a sentence. For example:
The Latin word caudex roughly translates as 'blockhead'
Italics also appear when foreign words or phrases that are not regarded fully part of the English language are used.
I just got the weirdest feeling of déjà vu.
Step 4: Citing English words
Instead of using single quotes you can use italics when citing English words that are being talked about.
I love the word flabbergasted.
The words through and threw may sound the same but obviously have very different meanings.
Step 5: Specific purposes
Finally, italics are used for various specific purposes in certain disciplines. Two of the more common examples are in biology and legal cases. In legal cases italics are used when writing the name of the case.
The famous case of Gideon v. Wainwright was a landmark in American legal history.
Note that only the two names appear in italics, while the abbreviation v. appears in normal type.
In biology the italics are used for the genus or species names of living creatures.
Homo sapiens, the name for the human species, belongs to the genus Homo.
Note that the genus name always uses a capital letter, while the species name never does.