Let’s Talk Grammar and Punctuation for a While
(Post Number Eight)
The Itinerant Italics
Are you a writer who used italics frequently? Or perhaps you’re not quite sure when to use this little punctuation perk? Such was the case with me until I did a little research and study to make sure I was using italics correctly.
I’m sure you’ll agree that the most common way to use italics is mostly in fiction when using Direct Internal Discourse.
What in the world is Direct Internal Discourse?
Oh, that’s the “formal” fancy term for expressing someone’s inner thoughts. This is the most frequent use of italics. So let’s look at some examples of that plus some examples of other uses for italics:
Example One: Bill looked at Susie and thought, Now’s the time to ask her to marry me.
Example Two: That’s just the sweater I want! Marge asked the clerk, “How much is that pullover cardigan?”
Exception: Do NOT italicize an inner thought that is indirect or paraphrased.
Example: Steve had been telling himself not to buy that car for the last week.
Although the AP Stylebook says to put all “composition” titles in quotation marks except the Bible and reference books, the CMOS prefers using italics for large titles:
Example One: Gone With the Wind is one of the most powerful movies ever made.
Example Two: One of my favorite books is The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans.
Example Three: Have you subscribed to the Reader’s Digest again this year?
Exception: Smaller components of such works, such as articles, chapter titles,
song titles, poem titles, and episodes should be in quotation marks.
Example: Barry read an amazing article about chipmunks entitled “The Nuts’ Best Friend” in this month’s Pennsylvania Magazine.
Animal Noises, Sounds, Ringing Phones, Etc.
In fiction, words that depict sounds other than dialogue are written in italics:
Example One: Woof! Woof! Barney, Pete’s dog, barked his head off!
Example Two: S-q-u-e-a-k …. “Who’s there?” Angie screamed.
Example Three: R-i-n-g …. Philip hurried to the front door, hoping he’d see Angie.
Foreign Words and Phrases
Unless you’re writing about Russian spies or Amish Ordnungs, this italics rule might mean little to you. However, whenever quoting foreign words or phrases, use italics. In the case of using the foreign words in fiction, they are usually italicized the first time as an introduction but are not italicized throughout the novel.
Example One: Henrietta’s German mother taught her to say ich liebe dich, (I love you), which helped Henrietta express her true feelings.
Example Two: In her Amish Ordnung, Ruth was the only alt maedel over twenty-five years who wasn’t married yet.
Italics for Emphasis
Often, in trying to express emphasis, writers will mistakenly use quotation marks instead of italics in a sentence. However, the italics is the proper way to go to express emphasis in a sentence:
Example One: Fritz made a very conscious effort to go on a diet this time.
Example Two: “Are you really going to drive to Florida by yourself?” Harry asked Bob.
Quoting a Word or Phrase
This use of the italics is probably most used in nonfiction. When citing words or discussing phrases, italicize the word or phrase in discussion:
Example One: The use of the word salvation in many of our traditional hymns has a powerful message.
Example Two: The shed blood of Jesus is one of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith.
So, there you have the most common uses of the italics. Take a look at your own writings, see if you can incorporate a few italics here and there, and give your manuscript a little extra spice. As long as italics aren’t overused, this little punctuation perk can add some life to your work. So go for it.
Next time we’ll look at the exclamation point! This little jot and tittle is probably one of the most misused punctuation marks in the English language!
More shameless promotion:
KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES BOOK 8
THE LONG RIDE HOME
Skye finally finds out what happened to her real parents,
and it’s a real shocker!