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Using Italics Correctly in Writing

In order to make words stand out in your writing, writers can use italics. To use italics correctly, it helps to know all the ways that italics may be used.

 The most common use is the easiest: to identify the title of a longer piece of work, such as a novel or TV series, for example. Great Expectations is the title of a novel by Charles Dickens. Remember, however, that shorter works use quotation marks. An example is the title of a poem: Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, “Teenager,” is published in her recent book of poems, Here.

Another use of italics is to identify a word that would be stressed by a speaker during a piece of dialogue. For example: “I really wish you would stop talking about my mother in law!” The italics, in this case, add emphasis that is easy to read and understand.

 Italics may also be used to show words used to show their special uses. For example: The words right and write are homophones, words that are pronounced the same but that have different meanings.

 In the same way, we can use italics on a single letter. The letter k is silent in the word knife.

 Italics are truly useful ways to make parts of your writing stand out to your readers (but be careful not to overuse them!).

(January 15, 2011)

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