Italics vs. Underlining- it drives me nuts to see underlining used when it should be italics.

Decades ago, underlining was a typographers’ mark for “set in italics”.  Back when dinosaurs roamed (and I was a school child) computers and word-processing programs were not widely available. Writers and editors underlined certain words to indicate which words should be set in italics.

We format our own writing now. Consequently, the use of underlining is disappearing. Good. I hate underlining.

If you have a choice between using italics and underlining, CHOOSE ITALICS. You should remain consistent with your choice throughout your work. Italicize the titles of magazines, books, newspapers, academic journals, films, television shows, long poems, plays of three or more acts, operas, musical albums, works of art, and named individual trains, planes, or ships.

Some examples:

  • Wired  magazine
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  • The Scream by Evard Munch
  • The West Coast Express
  • Titanic
  • U.S.S Minnow

Italicize foreign words.

  • Semper fi, the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps, in Latin means “always faithful.”
  • Nous Sommes Pret, the motto of Simon Fraser University, in French means “we are ready”.
  • Carpe Diem is Latin for “seize the day”.

Italicize a word or phrase to add emphasis.

  • The truth is of utmost concern!

Italicize a word when referring to that word.

  • The word justice is often misunderstood and therefore misused.

Did I get this wrong? If so, shout out to tell me so. 

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