The Art of Italics

Italics: those beautifully slanted words that a lot of people forget to use or overuse.

When do you italicize words without the mumbo jumbo?

  • To emphasis a word or expression.
    • “I was not there, no matter what she says!”
  • Foreign words.
    • Perhaps your character is in another country and you want to make it feel more authentic by using foreign words.
    • “She swung the payong up and over her shoulder to shield herself from the rain.”
  • Sounds
    • “The siren bellowed a high weeee into the midnight air and a chill stabbed into my core.”
  • Introducing a term in text. You do this the same way you would use quotation marks.
  •   When using letters in math.
    • 32u + 5u = 37u
  • Referring to bodies of work that can stand alone, put anything else in quotes.
    • Book titles
    • Newspapers, magazines, journals, pamphlets, reports, academic research essays
    • TV shows
    • Radio shows and Podcasts
    • Movies
    • Plays, operas, ballets, long musical and poetic work.
    • Works of art
    • Blogs. Websites are just capitalized. Weird, right?




  1. Maggie says:

    I used to write a lot of long, stream-of-consciousness paragraphs with tons of italics, but seeing them everywhere is incredibly distracting, so I’ve tried to cut back. But you have to love the sense of drama they convey!


    1. E says:

      I used to get slammed by my professors for overusing italics. They’d tell me, “trust that your reader can read. Stop beating that horse.” Lol. It’s nice to be able to say, “I used to” isn’t it? We’re better writers today than we were.

      Liked by 1 person

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