1. Published on Amazon? If you have a book, e-book, or audiobook available on Amazon.com, we'll promote it on WritingForums.org for free. Simply add your book to our Member Publications section. Add your book here or read the full announcement.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Dismiss Notice
  1. lostinwebspace

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Mar 5, 2011
    Likes Received:

    Punctuation/style questions: hyphens, italics, general

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Nov 10, 2014.

    Hey everyone, I just have a random smattering of questions here. I'm not sure how to handle the styling/punctuation of these instances, so any help is appreciated. Sorry for the randomness of the questions here.

    * Should I italicize skating-related concerts? One of my characters refers to Disney on Ice.
    * Should I italicize book series? Cliff's Notes, for example. I know we would italicize Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but not (?) the Harry Potter series. Am I correct?
    * I believe we don't italicize a foreign word if it's part of someone's formal address, such as in Herr Smith we would use regular type for "herr." But one German character says, "Ja, Herr Smith." Confusing me, because the sentence itself is spoken in German (therefore italicized), but "herr" is used in the foreign address. How would I italicize that sentence?
    * Here's another confusing one (for me at least) and related to the above: Should I italicize a foreign word that's contained in the title of a video game? The game (made up for the story) is called The Adventures of Herr Smith. I know the game title itself should be italicized, but do I reverse the italics for a foreign word if it's in a formal address? I'm guessing I could probably deduce this answer based on the previous, but just checking.
    * We italicize letters that stand as letters. How about if two characters are playing tic-tac-toe, and they're referring to the Xs and Os in the game. Do we italicize those letters?
    * Should I italicize mano a mano or mazel tov? Both terms are found in Merriam-Webster's, which leads me to believe we've adopted them the same as any borrowed English word (fiancé, résumé, cliché, blitzkrieg, etc.).

    * Should I add the hyphen I've flagged with parentheses in this sentence? "The candy was almond(-)butter flavored."
    * Do we hyphenate terms such as bottom-right, upper-left, etc. or leave open?
    * Should I add this hyphen, flagged in parentheses again? "His three-year-old son was good with his pleases and thank(-)yous."
    * How about when referring to a series of sounds? "He dropped his head on the car horn, issuing a honk(-)honk."
    * Finally, what about hybrids? "The game's animal resembled a horse(-)raccoon hybrid." Should that be a hyphen or a slash?

    General punctuation:
    * Should I add the quotation marks here? "He christened his car "Smog." My gut says no, since we wouldn't if I'd used the word "named," but just checking.
    * Quotation marks here? "He gave the "okay" sign."
    * One character says "oh, no," and I'm at a loss how to punctuate what another character follows up with. The sentence is "What oh, no? What's the oh, no?"
    * How do we puncutate "I mean" sentences. Do we include a comma? Quotation marks? Here are a couple of examples:
    ** How do you do, Smith? I mean, "Mr. Smith."
    ** He's just a regular person. I mean, he still puts his pants on one leg at a time, right?

    Thanks so much for the help here!
  2. thirdwind

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Jul 17, 2008
    Likes Received:
    I don't know all of the answers off the top of my head, so I'll answer what I can for now.

    I wouldn't italicize it. The Chicago Manual of Style doesn't suggest italicizing it, either, though I think MLA format does.

    Book series are not italicized.

    Names aren't italicized. This includes Herr Smith along with things like The Louvre.

    Titles are italicized no matter what language they're in. So it's correct the way you have it.

    The CMoS recommends italics.

    If the word is common enough in English, then you don't need to italicize. Of course, what "common enough" means is up for interpretation. Personally, I would italicize the first phrase but not the second.

    Some people use a hyphen, while others don't. I'm not sure what the official rule is on this one. My gut says that you would use a hyphen, but I'm not 100% sure.

    No hyphen, and there's a space between "thank" and "yous."

    No hyphen here.

    Hyphen is correct. A slash just seems too informal.

    I wouldn't use quotation marks here.

    I wouldn't use quotation marks, but I'm not 100% sure on this one.

    A: "Oh, no."
    B: "What 'oh, no'? What's the 'oh, no'?"

    Since you're referring to dialogue spoken by another character, A's quote would go in single quotes when referred to by B.

    A comma is correct, but you don't need quotation marks.
  3. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Aug 27, 2014
    Likes Received:
    1/ From a UK perspective, mazel tov isn't in common usage...yes, I know what it means, but I've only heard it in an American context. Although it might be more common in parts of the UK (perhaps London?) where there is a larger Jewish population than where I live.

    2/ Horse/raccoon hybrid seems more right to me than horse-raccoon.
  4. lostinwebspace

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Mar 5, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Sorry for the reply two weeks later. Anyway, thanks guys! You're lifesavers. I've already gone through my stuff to make some corrections. Anyone else have any feedback, feel free to post it!
  5. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Horse-raccoon hybrid is the correct form. A quick review of the grammar sources in a Google search refer to compound adjectives needing a hyphen.


    One would use the slash if the words were not a compound adjective such as in the place of a conjunction. 'And/or' is a common example. I use the slash with 'he/she' while other people prefer using the plural pronoun 'they' when gender isn't known.

Share This Page