I know it's about style and you like to close such questions (don't), but what are some general recommendations concerning the use of italics? More specifically, what proper nouns should I italicize? It can be applied to the names of publications but not to the names of government agencies. It's all I've noticed. What else?

  • Different organizations have different style guides with different rules; there is no one "right" answer to this question. Anecdotally, I tend to see "long form" fiction titles italicised (e.g., novels, anthologies/collections, feature films, television series), but "short form" titles in quotes (e.g., short stories, television episodes in a series). Beyond that, there is definite variation; for example, I've seen different sources make references to games in italics (Monopoly), quoted ("Monopoly"), bold (Monopoly), or just plain text (Monopoly). Sep 2 '20 at 15:44
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    The 'name of a publication' is a title - these are often italicised. The name of a government agency is a proper noun - no need to italicise. Sep 2 '20 at 16:01
  • @KateBunting I slightly disagree with the second part of your comment, ANY complex name (as well as simple names like Monopoly) will sometimes require (though not always get) suitable emphasis to make it readable. I don't see that A Gov Agency is any different to say: The Guardian in this regard. Initial Capitals is a more common method than italics, but the principle is the same. Scholarly publications typically have complex (and different) rules for citations in their footnotes, using italics, underlines and more. Sep 2 '20 at 17:54

As you say, depending on where it is written, certain style-guides will apply, and will differ from each other.

On a more general level, the rule is to do whatever is necessary - Monopoly (the name) for example is pretty well known, and the use of an initial capital clearly sets it apart from the word monopoly. A good example of when 'random' styling is helpful, is when referring to a book or a song in full, where you need to include both title and author/singer. As a simple label Songname by Well Known Singer may be fine, but when embedded in a longer discussion, it may be useful to say: Well Known Singer's Songname, or similar.

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