1. BradleyLove

    BradleyLove New Member

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    Use of italics and quotation marks

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by BradleyLove, Nov 2, 2016.

    Hello, this is my first post. I have done a search but did not find an answer so thought I'd ask.

    I'm having difficulty determining the rules (if any) for the use of italics and quotation marks.

    Clearly in the following example, we do not italicise the quotation marks:
    "Ouch! That really hurts! Why did you do that?"

    However, which is correct in this instance? Note, the second example has the quotation marks italicised in addition to the emphasis.
    "Ouch! That really hurts!" He was upset and asked, "Why did you do that?"
    "Ouch! That really hurts!" He was upset and asked, "Why did you do that?"

    What about when a character is speaking using a foreign language? Typically I've seen the entire phrase italicised, but do we italicise the quotation marks or not in this instance?

    I'm trying to discover if there's a consistent set of rules applying to the use of italics with quotation marks, but a Google result is not revealing much either.

    Thank you in advance for any clarification.
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I would not italicize the quotation marks themselves in any of the cases or situations you present. They are not part of the actual dialogue and should not get the emphasis implied by the italics. Just the actual verbiage.
     
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  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    A couple of preliminary issues:

    1. The italics don't work for me in any of those examples; and
    2. Saying "He was upset and asked" in the second two examples is unnecessary. It's redundant and adds nothing to the text.

    That said, I think I see the italics used for the quotation marks at times. Not sure if there is a set rule for this. I don't italicize very often, but when I do I don't include the quotation marks (but I don't know that I've ever italicized an entire sentence of dialogue like this).
     
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  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don't understand why you have any italics at all in these examples?
     
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  5. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

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    ^Exactly.

    I actually did a little research about this. Punctuation and structure of a sentence are perceived by the reader as "tones", similar to how you might know from my facial expression, vocal tone, volume, etc, whether i'm happy, sad, or angry. In text we have to discern these things without the use of physical cues, which means we have to develop a way of sending the message properly.

    For example, if I type "We need to talk!!" versus "We need to talk.", the change in punctuation is the difference between "oooh, this should be a fun conversation," and "uh oh."

    So in your case, the italics are showing emphasis. The problem with italicizing the whole front end of your sentence is that it comes off kind of weird when you read it in your head. In a similar sense, THIS ENTIRE SEQUENCE READS LIKE I'M SHOUTING. You have to be judicious about formatting like that, because when it becomes too prevalent your character dialogue sounds stilted and weird.

    If I were to write the sentence you shared above, I would stick to italicizing only one word:

    "Ouch! That really hurts!" He grabbed his arm and glared at Joshua. "Why did you do that?"

    Also, to @Steerpike 's second point, less is more. italicizing his exclamation gives gravity to the pain he's in, so you don't really need to state outwardly that he's upset. your readers are smart, so you have to make sure to give them their due credit. :)
     
  6. BradleyLove

    BradleyLove New Member

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    The sentence examples were something I made up on the spot in an attempt to explain my question. I wasn't really expecting the examples to be critiqued as that doesn't really answer my question. Whether my examples are deserving of italics is irrelevant, the question of formatting (i.e. Italicising quotation marks) remains.

    If it helps I can provide sentence examples from published works?
     
  7. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    IMO, and based on my reading about writing, words in dialog should usually only be italicized if it is essential to make the meaning clear. Not for mere emphasis. An example, "How could I not know?" compared to, for example, "How could I not know?"

    I and think that something with an exclamation point usually doesn't need more emphasis, unless you're trying to turn the volume up to 11. "Ouch. Ouch! Ouch!"
     
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  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    :stop:

    The OP has been pedantically clear that the question in play is not when, where or whether or not to italicize words within dialogue. The question concerns what to do with the actual quotation marks themselves when there is dialogue that is in italics.
     
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    But...but...but....we always go off topic!

    All right, OK, I'll address the topic. I would agree that with italics for emphasis, the quotes should not be in italics.
     

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