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Italics

(also known as "italic type")

What Are Italics?

In type or printed writing, italics are a sloping kind of writing. The characters slope to the right, as you see in the diagram below.

Italics

  • This sentence is shown in "roman" or normal style.
  • This sentence is shown in "italic" style.
The noun is "italics". The adjective is "italic".

When To Use Italics

We use italics for several different reasons, including:

  • Emphasis (like stress on a word when speaking): "It wasn't my fault you forgot the key!"

  • Titles of books, films, plays, poems: "Have you read War And Peace?"

  • Names of vehicles (ships, spacecraft etc): "Titanic sank in 1912 while crossing the Atlantic." | "When did Space Shuttle Challenger last return to Earth?"

  • Referring to words as words: "The words a/an and the are articles." | "This sentence contains the word important three times."

  • Sometimes in novels, to show thinking: "He is so ugly, thought Tara."

Usually there are other ways to do most of the above. For example, titles (of books etc) can also be shown with quotation marks (typically in handwriting) or underlining (typically in typewriting). Emphasis can be shown with underlining.

Like bold, italics are not really possible in handwriting. There are too many different styles of handwriting, and much handwriting tends to slope to the right anyway! Italics are used in "type", which is the kind of writing you usually see in books and newspapers and on a computer screen.

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