You Have a Point There: A Guide to Punctuation and Its Allies

By Eric Partridge | Go to book overview

Chapter 14

ITALICS EMPHASIS; DIFFERENTIATION AND DISTINCTION; QUOTATION

ITALIC WRITING is ordinary writing underlined; italic (originally Italic) printing is in a different type from roman (originally Roman) or ordinary type, in that it is lighter and also in that it slopes to the right. Words so written and printed are said to be in italic or in italics. To write or print words thus is to italicize them. Italic type is so called because it was designed and first used in 1501 by an Italian printer, Aldo Manuzio, whose name was latinized as Aldus Manutius.

'Italic letters, ' says Webster, 'are now used chiefly to distinguish words for emphasis, importance, antithesis' and particularization. But that is to say rather too little. The chief purposes of italics may be set forth under eight heads.

One preliminary remark, covering all eight classes of italics, has to be made. If within a word-group or a phrase, a clause or a sentence, written in italics one wishes to emphasize a letter or a word or a phrase, one has to use roman type-or, in handwriting and typescript, to omit the underlining of the letter or word or phrase.

In all my life (he said) I have never succeeded in doing exactly what I most wished to do.

The word is spelt human, not humane.


§ 1:

Emphasis

Italics are most often used to indicate the word, the word-group or phrase, even the sentence upon which the writer wishes to lay the greatest-or, at the least, a great-emphasis. A good writer italicizes for this purpose only when he cannot obtain the required degree of emphasis in any other way. Stylistically, emphasis is best obtained by either structural, i.e. syntactical, or rhetorical means. Too many writers use italics in a manner purely elocutionary. Italics, according

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