Italics and Ellipses

Italics sets apart a word or phrase from surrounding words. It distinguishes a word or phrase. It’s used for book titles, foreign words, names of vehicles, used for emphasis, and for words of words.

And it’s used for words only, not for punctuation.

The next lesson: Slash, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.

The following transcript is provided for your convenience.

So, if you have a phrase or a name of something in italics, and it’s at the end of this sentence, the words you could italicize, but the period or exclamation point or a question mark at the end of the sentence does not get italicized.

So, let’s look at some examples to see how italics can distinguish a word in a sentence, and set it apart from the rest of the sentence so that you really focus on that one word.

“I loved Black Beauty when I was eleven.”

Black Beauty” is the title of a book, and it sets it apart, and you know that’s what the title is because it’s in italics and the rest of the sentence isn’t.

So, you can easily distinguish what the title is from what else I wrote.

“I just got a feeling of deja vu!”

That feeling that something’s happening that’s already happened before. “Deja vu” is a foreign word or a foreign phrase, and so, it is put in italics to set it apart from the rest of the sentence.

The Titanic” is a name of a vehicle. This could be a car, it could be a ship, it could be a plane, any vehicle, the name of it is going to get italicized. So, “Titanic“, is italicized.

“He ate not two, but ten slices of pizza.”

Ten being italicized gives emphasis to the word. You notice how, when I read it, I emphasized the word “ten”. “He ate not two, but ten slices of pizza.” You’re emphasizing just how great the number of slices of pizza was that he ate.

And lastly, italics can be used to set off words of words.

“I love the word italics.”

So, whenever you’re saying, “Let’s look at the word italics.” Or, whenever writing the word “through” and “threw”, you would want to make sure you were using them correctly in the sentence. Whenever you’re talking about a word, and you say the word or look at this word, then you want to italicize the word you’re talking about.

And this would be English words because you’re already italicizing foreign words, so it’s English words that are words of words. That’s what that means.

So, when you see italics, pay special attention to them and see why those words are being italicized. Is it a book title? A foreign word? The name of a vehicle? Is the object trying to emphasize something specific? Or are they just pointing out a specific word that they like? Or wanting you to pay attention to a certain word that they’re discussing?

Next, we’re going to talk about ellipses, which are three dots, just a little dot dot dot, used in formal writing to show that words are missing. And a lot of times, this is used to leave out part of a long quote, but if you’re doing that when you’re writing, if you’re leaving out part of a long quote, be sure not to change the meaning.

If you leave out too much of the quote, or you leave out an important part, then the meaning is not preserved. So, you want to make sure that you’re preserving the meaning of a quote, or the meaning of a passage whenever you are inserting an ellipsis.

So, let’s look at this example. This is a quote from “Our Mutual Friend” by Charles Dickens.

“I cannot help it; reason has nothing to do with it; I love her against reason.”

Well, that’s a longer quote, and if you’re trying to make it fit in your paper, and your paper can only be 500 words, then you could insert an ellipsis. Ellipsis is singular, ellipses is plural. So, if we insert an ellipsis, you could just say:

“I cannot help it… I love her against reason.”

Saying “reason has nothing to do with it” is kind of repetitive, because you’re already saying “I love her against reason. I can’t help it.”

So, putting the ellipsis here takes the place of this phrase. It lets you know or lets the reader know that there were more words here in this quote, but you took them out because they didn’t affect the meaning. So, you still get the gist of what the quote was about without having extra words in there. So, you cut out seven words with just three little dots. So, it can be very handy when using quotes in a paper.

So, when you’re writing, pay attention to what words are italicized, see what the author is trying to tell you with those italics, and pay attention to ellipses. What was left out? Make sure that if you are using ellipses in your paper, you do not take away the meaning of the quote.

Practice tests help you remember. Take this mini-test to solidify your memory.
Mini-test: Italics and Ellipses 

1. Which of the sentences below does NOT use italics correctly?
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B.  
C.  
D.  
2. Which of the sentences below does NOT use italics correctly?
A.  
B.  
C.  
D.  

 

The next lesson: Slash, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.

italics-and-ellipses