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7 Italic, roman, and other type treatments

7.1 General principles

7.1.1 Introduction

In most contexts roman type is the standard typeface used for text matter, but it can be varied, for reasons of emphasis, additional clarity, or common convention, through the use of other typographic styles or forms. Each of these—italic, roman text in quotation marks, bold, capitals and small capitals, and underlining—is used to indicate a departure of some sort from normal text or to alert the reader to interpret the words so distinguished in a particular way. Initial capitals are also used to delineate particular classes of word; see Chapter 5.

7.1.2 Punctuation and typography

All internal punctuation within a phrase or work title set in a different type style is set in that style, including colons between titles and subtitles, and exclamation or question marks that form part of the quoted matter. Punctuation not belonging to the phrase or title is set in roman. Ensure that formatting is precise. In

Have you read Westward Ho!?
the exclamation mark is in italics because it is part of the title, but the question mark is in roman because it belongs to the surrounding context. Similarly, the plurals s and es and the possessive ’s affixed to italicized or other typographically distinguished words are set in roman:
several old Economists and New Yorkers
the Majestic’s crew
They are set in the variant typography where they form part of the word:
It’s not John’s fault but Mary’s
We fitted several of the blancs in our luggage

Occasionally it may be necessary to indicate italics in text that is already italicized, especially in foreign text. In this instance the opposite font—roman type—is chosen:

Discuss the principle caveat emptor in common-law jurisdictions
He hissed, ‘Do you have the slightest idea how much trouble you’ve caused?

Some publishers indicate italics in italicized text by putting it within quotation marks:

A study of Dickens’s ‘Hard Times’

Not all styles do this, however, especially in blocks of italic text, such as a caption.

Within italic titles Oxford style does not convert to roman any material that would be italic in open text (for example ships’ names or other work titles):

The Voyage of the Meteor (not The Voyage of the Meteor)

but other styles do. Where italic type is shown on hard copy by underlining or italic type, editors should indicate the opposite font by encircling the word or words and inserting the ‘change italic to roman type’ mark (see Appendix Proofreading marks) in the margin.

Use of underlining in this context is not recommended: see 7.6. For a further discussion of titles within titles see 8.2.8.

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Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms