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Editorial Style Guide

General Style Preferences

Italics and Underlining
Italics are used for:

  • academic terms in Latin: summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude
  • certain other foreign words; see Foreign Words for specific guidelines
  • titles of books and other full-length, freestanding works; see Names: Titles of Works for specific guidelines
  • names of ships: the Achille Lauro, the Costa Concordia, the Mayflower, the Titanic
  • references to words as words or letters as letters; quotation marks are equally acceptable, but either system should be used consistently in a document
  • scientific names of plants and animals: Homo sapiens

For readability, avoid using italics for emphasis in running text as much as possible. Use italics instead of underlining for book titles in running text. Do not use italics in headlines or course titles.

When a title or sentence is italicized, a word that normally would be italicized in running text—such as a foreign word, the scientific name of a plant or animal, or a ship—should appear in roman type. This is called reverse italics. For example, the scientific genus names appear in roman type in this title: From Homo erectus to Homo sapiens: A Brief History.

When writing for online publication:

  • Because italicized text is more difficult to read online, use italics sparingly.
  • Do not italicize hyperlinked text, even when the text is a title or word that is normally italicized in running text.
  • Do not use underlining, which may be mistaken for a hyperlink.





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