Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
From Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary. © 1984 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

This section discusses and illustrates the basic conventions of American Italicization.

Use italics to:

  1. Indicate titles of books, plays, and epic poems: War and Peace, The Importance of Being Earnest, Paradise Lost.
  2. Indicate titles of magazines and newspapers: New York magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News.
  3. Set off the titles of motion pictures and radio and television programs: Star Wars, All Things Considered, Masterpiece Theater.
  4. Indicate titles of major musical compositions: Handel's Messiah, Adam's Giselle.
  5. Set off the names of paintings and sculpture: Mona Lisa, Pietà.
  6. Indicate words, letters, or numbers that are referred to: The word hiss is onomatopoeic. Can't means won't in your lexicon. You form your n's like u's. A 6 looks like an inverted 9.
  7. Indicate foreign words and phrases not yet assimilated into English: C'est la vie was the response to my complaint.
  8. Indicate the names of plaintiff and defendant in legal citations: Roe v. Doe.
  9. Emphasize a word or phrase: When you appear on the national news, you are somebody. Use this device sparingly.
  10. Distinguish New Latin names of genera, species, subspecies, and varieties in botanical and zoological nomenclature: Homo sapiens.
  11. Set off the names of ships and aircraft: U.S.S. Arizona, Spirit of St. Louis.
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