Italic type  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In typography, italic type is a cursive typeface based on a stylized form of calligraphic handwriting. Owing to the influence from calligraphy, such typefaces often slant slightly to the right. Different glyph shapes from roman type are also usually used—another influence from calligraphy. It is distinct therefore from oblique type, in which the font is merely distorted into a slanted orientation. However, uppercase letters are often oblique type or swash capitals rather than true italics.

This style is called "italic" for historic reasons. Calligraphic typefaces started to be designed in Italy, for chancery purposes. Ludovico Arrighi and Aldus Manutius (both between the 15th and 16th centuries) were the main type designers involved in this process at the time.

When to use

  • Emphasis: "Smith wasn't the only guilty party, it's true."
  • The titles of works that stand by themselves, such as books or newspapers: "There was a performance of Beethoven's Ode to Joy." Works that appear within larger works, such as short stories, poems, or newspaper articles, are not italicized, but merely set off in quotation marks.
  • The names of ships: "The Queen Mary sailed last night."
  • The title of an epic poem: "The Iliad is thought to be the first Greek writing."
  • Foreign words, including the Latin binary nomenclature in the taxonomy of living organisms: "A splendid coq au vin was served"; "Homo sapiens".
  • Using a word as an example of a word rather than for its semantic content (see use-mention distinction): "The word the is an article."
    • Using a letter or number mentioned as itself:
      • John was annoyed: they had forgotten the h in his name once again.
      • When she saw her name beside the 1 on the rankings, she finally had proof that she was the best.
  • Introducing or defining terms, especially technical terms or those used in an unusual or different way: "Freudian psychology is based on the ego, the super-ego, and the id."; "An even number is one that is a multiple of 2."
  • Sometimes in novels to indicate a character's thought process: "This can't be happening, thought Mary."
  • Symbols for physical quantities and other mathematical variables: "The speed of light, c, is approximately equal to 3.00×108 m s-1."




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Italic type" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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