Incorporating italics into formal or academic writing allows you to emphasize or differentiate important words or phrases, such as a book title or foreign or highly technical words. Using italics correctly in your writing will help reinforce your abilities as a scholar or researcher.
When to Italicize
Following the guidelines of the American Psychological Association, Modern Language Association and Chicago Manual of Style, you can italicize the titles of journals, theses or books you researched, for example, the Journal of Good Research, as well as any scholarly terms you invoke. Such terms could include words from a foreign language, such as an art historian writing about a painting done in quadro riportato, or field-specific lingo, such as a statistician citing her determination of proximal p-value.
When Not to Italicize
While it is good practice to italicize words or phrases from a foreign language, if the phrase you are using is commonplace in the English vernacular, you do not have to italicize it. An example would be the French expression bon appetite, or the commonly used Latin abbreviations in text, such as et al., which is short for "et alia" or "and others" or "e.g," the truncated Latin expression "exempli gratia," which means "for example."
Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.