Italics etiquette for CD inserts?
December 6, 2004 10:57 AM   Subscribe

PunctuationFilter: I'm writing the copy for a CD insert booklet in which the title of a book is mentioned. Typically, I'd italicize it, but the entire piece is already in italics. What's the standard here?
posted by plexiwatt to Writing & Language (18 answers total)
I thought a title of a book should always be underlined....
posted by emptybowl at 10:59 AM on December 6, 2004

in my experience, when the entire is italicized, the would-be italics are romanized.
posted by mdn at 11:01 AM on December 6, 2004

I'd also been taught to underline. If you want to go with italics, it seems standard to use plain font to represent italics in a block of text that is otherwise in italics:
He thought to himself, I wish we had read Fahrenheit 451 in class instead of Finnegan's Wake.
posted by whatzit at 11:03 AM on December 6, 2004

Response by poster: as I suspected. Thanks ya'll, this is a surprisingly funky Google search to attempt.
posted by plexiwatt at 11:06 AM on December 6, 2004

Underlining was, long ago, the way to indicate that a portion of handwritten (or typewritten) text should be italicized when typeset. So, if you are able to italicize the title of a work then underlining is not appropriate.

In this case, the ought-to-be-italicized text should be 'normal'. (on preview: yeah)
posted by onshi at 11:13 AM on December 6, 2004

Underline is evil, and should never be used in a typed document. The underline came about because it's hard to write in bold or italics in handwritten text. A single underline told the typesetter to italicise the print, and a double underline to bold it (or single for bold, double for italics, I can't remember). This little fact is often overlooked in school, allowing underlines in printed work.
posted by defcom1 at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2004

Underlining is no longer standard, now that we have computers. It just stood in because it was easier to do on a typewriter.
posted by dame at 11:15 AM on December 6, 2004

mdn is correct: these days a book title printed in italicized body text should be set in roman.
posted by ScottUltra at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2004

Standard Proofing/Type-setting Marks:

single underline = italics
double underline = small-caps
triple underline = caps
wiggly underline = bold
posted by Monk at 12:01 PM on December 6, 2004

mdn is correct: a book title within italics reverts to romanized (non-italic) type. And underlining is used in a manuscript in order to indicate to a designer to set that text in italic. Underlining itself should almost never actually appear in publication.
posted by scody at 12:07 PM on December 6, 2004

I'll vote for Romanized too.

Underlining was, long ago, the way to indicate that a portion of handwritten (or typewritten) text should be italicized when typeset. So, if you are able to italicize the title of a work then underlining is not appropriate.

onshi, some resources still suggest using underlining to indicate italics. Me, I HATE that. It's tough enough adhering to all the different submissions rules of different publications and editors as it is.


Someday when I'm rich and famous I'm submitting everything in magic marker on toilet paper. 'You want it? Type it yourself...'
posted by Shane at 12:30 PM on December 6, 2004

Shane, part of the reason it's often still necessary to submit manuscripts with underlining instead of italics is that italics often "drop out" when converted from Word to Quark (for example). Underlining stays put, essentially, for designers to work with -- whereas italics often go missing. It's a weird formatting/programming issue that I can't exaplain any better than that, but I'm a book and publications editor and this is the sole reason why we turn manuscripts over to our designers with underlining (to indicated italicized text) instead of actually using italics. When mss. come to us with italics instead of underlining, we have to convert them ourselves (not necessarily a difficult problem, thanks to Find & Replace functions, but still a potential pain in the ass). Authors who do it for us get huge brownie points.
posted by scody at 12:45 PM on December 6, 2004

Thanks, scody. It's in paper submissions that I don't understand exchanging underlining for italics.

Yeah, online submissions opens up a whole new can of worms, especially when editors want a flash fiction piece or an excerpt of a longer piece in the body of the e-mail (as they're afraid attachments might contain virii.) Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it seems the body of that e-mail will be received with any formatting Satan desires.
posted by Shane at 1:07 PM on December 6, 2004

scody: In four years of experience of converting Word to Quark I have never experienced that problem.
posted by grouse at 2:40 PM on December 6, 2004

Really? Because everywhere I've ever worked as an editor for the past ten years, it's a standard problem: italics (and various other types of formatting) tend to fall out during conversion, while underlining stays. I know other editors who say the same thing, and I seem to recall the new edition of the Chicago Manual of Style mentioning it as well. Weird.
posted by scody at 3:11 PM on December 6, 2004

Scody - are these manuscripts coming in with actual Italic fonts used separately from the Romans, or are these "menu styles"? I could easily see losing the former due to a missing font, but the menu styles should stick.
posted by nathan_teske at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2004

Roman is correct, but is there any way you can get them to not put the entire text in itals? I hate that.

Also, there's no apostrophe in Finnegans Wake.
posted by languagehat at 7:07 PM on December 6, 2004

nathan_teske: That makes sense.
posted by grouse at 11:36 AM on December 7, 2004

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