Essays Italicized Or Underlined Words

Italics and Underlining

Italics and underlining are like flashers on road signs. They make you take notice. Italics and underlining can be used interchangeably, although usually underlining is used when something is either hand written or typed; if using a computer you can italicize. If you start using italics, don't switch to underlining within the same document.

Italics or underlining are used most often: for titles of longer works: books, magazines, newspapers, films, TV shows, a complete symphony, plays, long poems, albums:

Albert Borgmann's book, Crossing the Postmodern Divide

the TV show Frasier

the film It Happened One Night

the magazine Adirondack Life

the Beatles album Abbey Road

Italics or underlining are also used for titles of paintings, sculptures, ships, trains, aircraft, and spacecraft:

Van Gogh's painting Starry Night

Daniel Chester French's sculpture The Spirit of Life

U.S.S. Saratoga

Apollo 13

Microsoft Word

Tip: Shorter works, such a book chapters, articles, sections of newspapers, short stories, poems, songs, and TV episodes are placed in quotation marks.

Neither italics nor quotation marks are used with titles of major religious texts, books of the Bible, or classic legal documents:

the Bible Pentateuch the Koran the Declaration of Independence

Use italics or underlining when using words from another language:

Yggdrasil avatar Yahweh sabra

Tip: Many foreign words have become absorbed into our language and should not be italicized or underlined. When in doubt, consult the dictionary. Also, common Latin abbreviations should not be italicized or underlined:

etc. i.e. p.s. viz.

Use italics or underlining to emphasize, stress, or clarify a word or letter in a sentence or when using a word as a linguistic symbol rather than for its meaning:

It was the first time I felt appreciated by my children.

I asked you to articulate your findings, not create a flow chart.

He claimed his data to be accurate, but accurate is a word he often interprets loosely. My daughter's report card showed five B's, two B+'s and one glorious A.

Questions or feedback about ESC's Online Writing Center? Contact us at Learning.Support@esc.edu.

Which Titles Are Italicized and Which Are Enclosed in Quotation Marks?

by Tina Blue

January 4, 2001

There are only a few simple rules to follow when deciding how to punctuate a title that occurs within a body of prose.

NOTE:The title of an article or essay is not enclosed in quotation marks, italicized or underlined at the top of the page. The reason for punctuating a title that occurs in a body of prose is to set it off and to identify it as a title. When the title of an article or an essay appears over the article, its position is sufficient to identify it as the title.

ITALICS

     ~Italics are used primarily to punctuate the titles of full-length works that are published separately.  There are also a couple of specialized uses for italics with titles.

1. The titles of book-length works that are published separately are italicized. This includes books, full-length plays, if published separately, and long poems, if published separately:
Novel:  One Hundred Years of Solitude
Play:  Death of a Salesman
Long Poem:  Paradise Lost

     2. The titles of works that include shorter works are italicized. This includes anthologies and collections of songs, poems, short stories, short plays, and essays.

    3. The titles of newspapers and magazines are italicized.

    4. Technically, the titles of movies and television shows should be italicized, because individual scenes and episodes may have their own titles, which would be enclosed in quotation marks. The influence of newspaper reviewers, however, has undermined this principle, so you are likely to find the titles of movies and television shows enclosed in quotation marks.

    5. The names of ships, trains, airplanes and spacecraft are italicized, but not H.M.S. or U.S.S.:

U.S.S. Nimitz
H.M.S. Pinafore 
Starship Enterprise
Orient Express

QUOTATION MARKS

  ~Quotation marks are used to punctuate titles of short works and parts of other works--i.e., titles of those works that are not published separately.
1. Chapter titles are enclosed in quotation marks (but not chapter numbers).
2. The titles of short stories are enclosed in quotation marks.
3. The titles of short poems are enclosed in quotation marks.
4. The titles of newspaper and magazine articles are enclosed in quotation marks.
5. The titles of essays are enclosed in quotation marks.
6. The title of a longer work that would be italicized if it were published separately (e.g., Paradise Lost or a play) would be enclosed in quotation marks if the work is included in a longer collection or anthology. For example, a collection of works by John Milton might be entitled The Complete Works of John Milton, and the title of the poem Paradise Lost or the drama Samson Agonistes, though they would usually be italicized, would be enclosed in quotation marks when reference was being made to the edition of which they were merely a part.

UNDERLINING

Long ago and in a galaxy far, far away, people had to type their work, or even write it out longhand. Unless you had your own printing press, you couldn't do italics. Therefore, when something needed to be italicized, that fact was represented by underlining. In other words, underlining something is equivalent to italicizing it, so it is not proper to both italicize and underline a title. (And, as with italics and quotation marks, titles are not underlined at the head of an essay or article.)

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