1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Italics with the word "the"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Apr 11, 2011.

    My question is not about when to italicize and when not to, but when to italicize the word "the" when it's part of a title.

    An example:
    The Titanic sank in 1912.
    In 1912, the Titanic sank.

    Same with movie titles, television show titles, periodical titles, book titles, etc. Do we italicize "the" when it comes in the middle of a sentence and it's part of the title? This is American standard in case it matters. And, for that matter, should I capitalize the word as well? Thanks.
     
  2. Omega14
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    Omega14 Member

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    If 'The' is part of the title, then yes, it needs to be in italics. If 'the' carries a capital in the title, then it needs to be capitalised. If 'the' falls in the middle of the title, chances are it won't take a capital, but you need to consult the specific film/book/whatever to see what the convention is for that particular one.

    Examples:

    I read the book The Human Factor by Graham Greene.

    I enjoyed The Great Escape: my favourite film.

    Far from the Madding Crowd is a book by Thomas Hardy.

    I think you will find that, in your case, the ship was not called The Titanic, but simply Titanic, so you should use 'the Titanic', or 'RMS Titanic'.

    Rachel
     
  3. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Oxford Style Manual confirms this. Actually, it tells you to keep "The" in Roman for the "definite article, other prefixes, and the possessive 's", so according to their style it would be Roman either way: The Titanic.
     
  4. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Yes. You italicize the word "the" only when it is a part of a title; never when it's not.
     
  5. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I think I got different answers here. digitig mentioned an answer from the Oxford Style Manual, though, so just to be clear: If "the" is at the beginning of the title (as in The Matrix, The Godfather, etc.), it appears in Roman text no matter where in the sentence it is and any prefix? Is this the same for the indefinite articles?
     
  6. Omega14
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    Omega14 Member

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    My take on this is that digitig was referring to your specific example of the Titanic (because of the quote used in his post).
    I would always italicise The Godfather, whether it appeared at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence:

    My favourite film is The Godfather.

    The Godfather is my favourite film.

    The film is not Godfather, so The Godfather looks wrong.

    With a ship's name, however:

    The Titanic sank in 1912.

    As far as I understand, any modifiers around the ship's name appear in Roman:

    The Titanic's resting place is the bottom of the ocean.

    The possessive 's also appears in Roman.

    But I don't have the Oxford Style Manual, so perhaps digitig can confirm.

    Rachel
     
  7. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I tried finding some rule in the Chicago Style Guide, but I couldn't. So all I have to go on is digitig's word from the people who run Oxford.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The rule I quoted was for "the individual names of ships, trains, aircraft, spacecraft, and other means of transport" (because it was in the context of the Titanic), not for titles. If "the" forms part of of an italicised title then it gets italicised along with the rest.
     
  9. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Okay, so for forms of transport, beginning articles are in Roman, but for anything else, it's italicized? Also, not that this pertains to italicizing, but do we capitalize the article as well when it appears at the beginning? For instance, would we write "I love the Godfather!" or "... "The Godfather"?

    Also, another two questions:
    * I know proper titles aren't italicized (Senor Hugo, Monsieur Deprauve). Do company names or product names get italicized? I know some have entered English vernacular (Pez, Yogen Fruz, etc.) but what about names that are barely heard across the border (Jacobs Krönung Coffee, Côte Rôtie)?
    * Some expressions are commonly known in English to the point where we've adopted them. I looked up "Carpe diem" with Merriam-Webster and it's included, so I'd assume I don't have to italicize it. What if someone uses one word ("carpe" or "diem") but is using a shortened version of this expression? Sort of how, in the 80s or 90s, someone would use "Word" to mean "Word up." Does the shortened expression then become italicized?

    U.S. standards, please.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Oxford Style Manual has pages and pages on this, and it would be out of order to reproduce it all here. But it would be The Godfather.
    They're still proper titles, aren't they?
    The Oxford Manual of Style says to italicise it.
    I think you're at a level of detail that's beyond US v. UK standards -- it's down to individual publishers. The usage I've described is from the UK, but it's from one particular publisher (albeit a major and influential one). If I went to a different UK publisher I might get different answers. For example, the Oxford Style Manual says that a "the" at the start of a periodical title is not italicised, with no exceptions. The Economist's Style Guide makes exceptions for The Economist and The Times (London). You are not going to get anything definitive; the best you can hope for is influential. For US style you probably need to splash out on a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style.
     

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