English in Use/Typography and Document Format

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To do:
Add boldface uses and other useful info from w:Emphasis (typography)

General format[edit]



Italic type[edit]

Italics are used for:

  • Emphasis: "Smith wasn't the only guilty party; it's true."
  • The titles of works that stand by themselves, such as books or newspapers: "There was a performance of Beethoven's Ode to Joy." *: Works that appear within larger works, such as short stories, poems, or newspaper articles, are not italicized, but merely set off in quotation marks.
  • The names of ships: "The Queen Mary sailed last night."
  • Foreign words: "A splendid coq au vin was served."
  • Using a word as an example of a word, rather than for its semantic content: "The word the is an article."
  • Introducing terms, especially technical terms or those used in an unusual or different way:[1] "Freudian psychology is based on the ego, the super-ego, and the id."
  • Sometimes in novels to indicate a character's thought process: "This can't be happening, thought Mary."
  • The Latin binary nomenclature (Genus species), in the taxonomy of living organisms: "Rats belong to the species rattus rattus."
  • Symbols for physical quantities and other mathematical variables: "The speed of light, c, is approximately equal to 3.00×108 m s-1."

If something within a run of italics needs to be italicized itself, the type is switched back to non-italicized (Roman) type: That sounds like the Ode to Joy played backwards, thought Mary.

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Instructions: Correct any errors present in the following sentences.

  1. When will the Queen Mary be arriving in the port?
  2. Lets have escargot for dinner tonight.
  3. Did you enjoy Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening?
  1. When will the Queen Mary be arriving in the port? (No changes)
  2. Lets have escargot for dinner tonight.
  3. Did you enjoy Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening?"


Italic type is usually used for emphasis.

In media where italicization is not possible, alternatives are used as substitutes:


An underline is used to indicate special typefaces:

  • single underline for italic type
  • double underline for small caps
  • triple underline for full capital letters (used among small caps or to change text already typed as lower case)
  • wavy underline for boldface

Small caps[edit]

Small caps are often used for text that is all uppercase; this makes the run of capital letters seem less "jarring" to the reader. For example, the style of many publications, including the Atlantic Monthly and USA Today, is to use small caps for initialisms of three or more letters; thus: "U.S." and "FDR" in normal caps, but "nato" in small caps. The initialisms "A.D." and "B.C." are often smallcapped as well.

Other uses:

  • Keyboard shortcuts: Control + Shift + K
  • The word "Lord" in many versions of the Bible.
  • The text of a formal monumental inscription or the legend on a coin: si monumentum requiris circumspice."


  1. "University of Minnesota Style Manual"