Self-Editing #6: Be Wise, Italicize

   Posted by: Faith   in Rye Thoughts

…by which I do not mean, pour Italian dressing all over your keyboard or manuscript. Yes, it would be tasty, but not entirely sanitary. So, how about using the Italics feature in your word processor instead?

“But I already know how to use the italics feature,” you say.

“Writing in second person won’t convince them,” I reply.

Er… moving on, what I’m talking about here is using Italics for any and all media references included in your manuscript. This can apply to any genre – coMmm... zesty AND value sized!ntemporary, fantasy, historical – because it includes all of these things:

  • TV shows
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Radio Shows
  • Plays
  • Operas
  • Newspapers
  • Movies
  • Specific works of art

All of these things need, nay, deserve to be named in Italics on the pages of your manuscript.

“That’s all well and good,” you may say, “But I thought we were supposed to use quotation marks for some of those?”

Ah… quotation marks are a different beast altogether. You would use quotation marks for media like:

  • Songs
  • Stories (which are not full-length books)
  • Poems
  • Articles
  • TV episodes
  • Famous photographs

Why do those items get the short end of the stick and only receive quotation marks? Well, my friends, that’s simply the way of the world. A good general rule to remember this by is: If it’s a complete work with multiple components, put it in italics. If it’s a work that belongs in a larger collection, put it in quotation marks. Of course, this will just confuse you when it comes to things like paintings/works of art/photographs, but I did say it was a general rule.

Have you used this system in the past, or have you been playing a guessing game with media in your manuscripts?

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 at 5:04 am and is filed under Rye Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 comments so far


I must plead the 5th… Thanks for this list, as it will help me to get it right in the future…

September 4th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

It’s one of those things that’s nearly impossible to remember unless you have a list in front of you, I find. There are too many other things for us to remember while writing to worry about memorizing Italics rules!

September 9th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Hey, what about italicizing for bits of internal dialogue? Have to say I use it more for that than for media etc, but I don’t tend to refer to proper nouns very often.

October 1st, 2010 at 11:02 am

Adina – Yes, internal dialogue gets italicized! I just figured we don’t often hear about when to use italics or quotations for media. It’s one of those things no one ever talks about! But for internal dialogue, absolutely. :)

October 1st, 2010 at 12:15 pm

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