Underline Or Italicize Books In Essays
We use italics (characters set in type that slants to the right) and underlining to distinguish certain words from others within the text. These typographical devices mean the same thing; therefore, it would be unusual to use both within the same text and it would certainly be unwise to italicize an underlined word. As word-processors and printers become more sophisticated and their published products more professional looking, italics are accepted by more and more instructors. Still, some instructors insist on underlines (probably because they went to school when italics were either technically difficult or practically unreadable). It is still a good idea to ask your instructor before using italics. (The APA Publication Manual continues to insist on underlining.) In this section, we will use italics only, but they should be considered interchangeable with underlined text.
These rules and suggestions do not apply to newspaper writing, which has its own set of regulations in this matter.
Italics do not include punctuation marks (end marks or parentheses, for instance) next to the words being italicized unless those punctuation marks are meant to be considered as part of what is being italicized: "Have you read Stephen King's Pet Semetary? (The question mark is not italicize here.) Also, do not italicize the apostrophe-s which creates the possessive of a title: "What is the Courant 's position on this issue?" You'll have to watch your word-processor on this, as most word-processors will try to italicize the entire word that you double-click on.
Generally, we italicize the titles of things that can stand by themselves. Thus we differentiate between the titles of novels and journals, say, and the titles of poems, short stories, articles, and episodes (for television shows). The titles of these shorter pieces would be surrounded with double quotation marks.
In writing the titles of newspapers, do not italicize the word the, even when it is part of the title (the New York Times), and do not italicize the name of the city in which the newspaper is published unless that name is part of the title: the Hartford Courant, but the London Times.
Other titles that we would italicize include the following:
- Journals and Magazines:Time, U.S. News and World Report, Crazyhorse, Georgia Review
- Plays:Waiting for Godot, Long Day's Journey Into Night
- Long Musical Pieces: Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite (but "Waltz of the Flowers"), Schubert's Winterreise (but "Ave Maria"). For musical pieces named by type, number and key Mozart's Divertimento in D major, Barber's Cello Sonata Op. 6 we use neither italics nor quotation marks.
- Cinema:Slingblade, Shine, The Invisible Man
- Television and Radio Programs:Dateline, Seinfeld, Fresh Air, Car Talk
- Artworks: the Venus de Milo, Whistler's The Artist's Mother
- Famous Speeches: Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Washington's Second Inaugural Address (when that is the actual title of the speech)
- Long Poems (that are extensive enough to appear in a book by themselves): Longfellow's Evangeline, Milton's Paradise Lost, Whitman's Leaves of Grass
- Pamphlets:New Developments in AIDS Research
We do not italicize the titles of long sacred works: the Bible, the Koran. Nor do we italicize the titles of books of the Bible: Genesis, Revelation, 1 Corinthians.
When an exclamation mark or question mark is part of a title, make sure that that mark is italicized along with the title,
- My favorite book is Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
- I love Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go!
(Do not add an additional period to end such sentences.) If the end mark is not part of the title, but is added to indicate a question or exclamation, do not italicize that mark.
- Did you enjoy Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain?
Names of Vehicles
- Orient Express
- U.S.S. Eisenhower (Don't italicize the U.S.S.)
- H.M.S. Pinafore (Don't italicize the H.M.S. when you're talking about the ship. If you're talking about the light opera, then it's part of the title, H.M.S. Pinafore.)
We don't italicize names of vehicles that are brand names: Ford Explorer, Corvette, Nissan Pathfinder, Boeing 747.
Foreign Words or Phrases
- If a word or phrase has become so widely used and understood that it has become part of the English language such as the French "bon voyage" or the abbreviation for the latin et cetera, "etc." we would not italicize it. Often this becomes a matter of private judgment and context. For instance, whether you italicize the Italian sotto voce depends largely on your audience and your subject matter.
Words as Words
- The word basically is often unnecessary and should be removed.
- There were four and's and one therefore in that last sentence. (Notice that the apostrophe-s, used to create the plural of the word-as-word and, is not italicized. See the section on Plurals for additional help.)
- She defines ambiguity in a positive way, as the ability of a word to mean more than one thing at the same time.
Note: It is important not to overdo the use of italics to emphasize words. After a while, it loses its effect and the language starts to sound like something out of a comic book.
- I really don't care what you think! (Notice that just about any word in that sentence could have been italicized, depending on how the person said the sentence.)
- These rules do not apply to newspaper writing.
Words as Reproduced Sounds
- Grrr! went the bear. (But you would say "the bear growled" because growled reports the nature of the sound but doesn't try to reproduce it. Thus the bees buzz but go bzzzz and dogs bark woof!)
- His head hit the stairs, kathunk!
Frequently, mimetically produced sounds are also accompanied by exclamation marks.
1.4: Italics and Underlining
Last edited by Elizabeth Angeli, Allen Brizee on April 3, 2013 .
This resource deals with italics and underlining.
Italics and Underlining
Italics and underlining generally serve similar purposes. However, the context for their use is different. When handwriting a document--or in other situations where italics aren't an option--use underlining. When you are word processing a document on a computer, use italics. The important thing is to stay consistent in how you use italics and underlining.
Italicize the titles of magazines, books, newspapers, academic journals, films, television shows, long poems, plays, operas, musical albums, works of art, websites.
- I read a really interesting article in Newsweek while I was waiting at the doctor’s office.
- My cousin is reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for two different classes.
- I have every album from Dave Matthews Band, except for Crash.
Quotation Marks and Italics/Underlining Exercise
In the following sentences put in quotation marks wherever they are needed, and underline words where italics are needed.
1. Mary is trying hard in school this semester, her father said.
2. No, the taxi driver said curtly, I cannot get you to the airport in fifteen minutes.
3. I believe, Jack remarked, that the best time of year to visit Europe is in the spring. At least that's what I read in a book entitled Guide to Europe.
4. My French professor told me that my accent is abominable.
5. She asked, Is Time a magazine you read regularly?
6. Flannery O'Connor probably got the title of one of her stories from the words of the old popular song, A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
7. When did Roosevelt say, We have nothing to fear but fear itself?
8. It seems to me that hip and cool are words that are going out of style.
9. Yesterday, John said, This afternoon I'll bring back your book Conflict in the Middle East; however, he did not return it.
10. Can you believe, Dot asked me, that it has been almost five years since we've seen each other?
11. A Perfect Day for Bananafish is, I believe, J. D. Salinger's best short story.
12. Certainly, Mr. Martin said, I shall explain the whole situation to him. I know that he will understand.
Click here for exercise answers.
Put in semicolons, colons, dashes, quotation marks, Italics (use an underline), and parentheses where ever they are needed in the following sentences.
1. The men in question Harold Keene, Jim Peterson, and Gerald Greene deserve awards.
2. Several countries participated in the airlift Italy, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg.
3. Only one course was open to us surrender, said the ex-major, and we did.
4. Judge Carswell later to be nominated for the Supreme Court had ruled against civil rights.
5. In last week's New Yorker, one of my favorite magazines, I enjoyed reading Leland's article How Not to Go Camping.
6. Yes, Jim said, I'll be home by ten.
7. There was only one thing to do study till dawn.
8. Montaigne wrote the following A wise man never loses anything, if he has himself.
9. The following are the primary colors red, blue, and yellow.
10. Arriving on the 8 10 plane were Liz Brooks, my old roommate her husband and Tim, their son.
11. When the teacher commented that her spelling was poor, Lynn replied All the members of my family are poor spellers. Why not me?
12. He used the phrase you know so often that I finally said No, I don't know.
13. The automobile dealer handled three makes of cars Volkswagens, Porsches, and Mercedes Benz.
14. Though Phil said he would arrive on the 9 19 flight, he came instead on the 10 36 flight.
15. Whoever thought said Helen that Jack would be elected class president?
16. In baseball a show boat is a man who shows off.
17. The minister quoted Isaiah 5 21 in last Sunday's sermon.
18. There was a very interesting article entitled The New Rage for Folk Singing in last Sunday's New York Times newspaper.
19. Whoever is elected secretary of the club Ashley, or Chandra, or Aisha must be prepared to do a great deal of work, said Jumita, the previous secretary.
20. Darwin's On the Origin of Species 1859 caused a great controversy when it appeared.
Click here for exercise answers.