Italics and Underlining

Italics & Underlining Italics and underlining are like flashers on road signs. They make you take notice. Italics and underlining can be used interchangeably, although usually underlining is used when something is either hand written or typed; if using a computer you can italicize. If you start using italics, don't switch to underlining within the same document.

Italics or underlining are used most often: for titles of longer works: books, magazines, newspapers, films, TV shows, a complete symphony, plays, long poems, albums:

Albert Borgmann's book, Crossing the Postmodern Divide

the TV show Frasier

the film It Happened One Night

the magazine Adirondack Life

the Beatles album Abbey Road

Italics or underlining are also used for titles of paintings, sculptures, ships, trains, aircraft, and spacecraft:

Van Gogh's painting Starry Night

Daniel Chester French's sculpture The Spirit of Life

U.S.S. Saratoga

Apollo 13

Microsoft Word

Tip: Shorter works, such a book chapters, articles, sections of newspapers, short stories, poems, songs, and TV episodes are placed in quotation marks.

Neither italics nor quotation marks are used with titles of major religious texts, books of the Bible, or classic legal documents:

the Bible            Pentateuch            the Koran            the Declaration of Independence

Use italics or underlining when using words from another language:

Yggdrasil            avatar            Yahweh            sabra

Tip: Many foreign words have become absorbed into our language and should not be italicized or underlined. When in doubt, consult the dictionary. Also, common Latin abbreviations should not be italicized or underlined:

etc.            i.e.            p.s.            viz.

Use italics or underlining to emphasize, stress, or clarify a word or letter in a sentence or when using a word as a linguistic symbol rather than for its meaning:

It was the first time I felt appreciated by my children.

I asked you to articulate your findings, not create a flow chart.

He claimed his data to be accurate, but accurate is a word he often interprets loosely. My daughter's report card showed five B's, two B+'s and one glorious A.

Questions or feedback about ESC's Online Writing Center? Contact us at Learning.Support@esc.edu.