Italics in manuscripts

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RikkiKane

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I was told recently by a friend of mine I shouldn't use italics in a manuscript for a novel. He said I should underline the words I want to italicize. Is this true? I really enjoy using italics and I would hate to go back and change everything now I am so close to completion. Thanks.
 

katiemac

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I was told recently by a friend of mine I shouldn't use italics in a manuscript for a novel. He said I should underline the words I want to italicize. Is this true? I really enjoy using italics and I would hate to go back and change everything now I am so close to completion. Thanks.

For typesetting purposes, it's easier to identify an underlined word than it is to identify an italicized one. So, yes, it's easier on everyone in the long run if you underline. But if you're just writing a draft, do it however you like.
 

TrickyFiction

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I think I remember reading somewhere that underlining italics was done when the standard font was Courier, which made italics difficult to see, but now that it is moving toward TNR, that rule is changing. I THOUGHT it was an agent who stated this, saying s/he preferred to see italics as italics rather than underlined. Has anyone else read something similar?
 

Drice

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For typesetting purposes, it's easier to identify an underlined word than it is to identify an italicized one. So, yes, it's easier on everyone in the long run if you underline. But if you're just writing a draft, do it however you like.

Are you saying that book publishers re-keyboard manuscripts? Wow. Back in the 70's and 80's when I worked in a typesetting shop we did everything we could to avoid re-keyboarding text. I've been out of that racket for so long now... But I would have thought that by now capturing an author's keystrokes electronically would be a piece of cake. And rekeying the exception rather than the rule.
 

blacbird

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I really enjoy using italics

Right there you reveal one problem, and perhaps another. First, it doesn't matter three spits in a strong north wind what you enjoy, relative to submission manuscripts, and the sooner you realize that, the better off you'll be. It matters what the person you're submitting to "enjoys". That, and nothing else.

Regards italics, many editors prefer underlining simply because it's easier to see in a manuscript. I do a lot of technical editing, where scientific names are required to be rendered in final print production in italics. In manuscript, I virulently prefer underlining for exactly this reason.

Second (and I don't know if this applies, but your statement makes me suspicious), if you "enjoy" using italics, does that mean you're using a lot of italics in your writing? If so, I'd recommend you take a good hard brutally sadistic look at the use of such a font device. Many readers absolutely hate the overuse of italic font.

caw
 

JoNightshade

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I really enjoy using italics and I would hate to go back and change everything now I am so close to completion. Thanks.

If you're using Word or any other decent word processing program you do NOT have to go back and manually change all of your italics, word by word. You can find and replace italics with underline.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Are you saying that book publishers re-keyboard manuscripts?

Yes. It's easier to get the material in the format you require to rekeyboard it than to massage any of dozens of word processor formats, with any number of errors, inconsistencies, and hidden codes in them, into a manageable text.
 

CACTUSWENDY

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I have also read on this forum that folks have had their MS rejected because they underlined instead of using italics. Several were even put in their place about doing it.

To be safe, I would read the submission details of any agent/publisher and see what way they want it first. An agent might prefer the italics and a publisher might prefer the underline.

Again....this is just what I have read on different threads here at AW.
 

rugcat

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The preference for underlining is a holdover from different days. Insisting on underlining is like insisting on Courier -- I've been told by both agents and editors that they just don't care.

I used to underline, but I've gone to italics -- my editor no longer requires, or even accepts, a hard copy of the ms. Everything, including the copy edit, is now an efile. She can change the font, the italics, or anything else she prefers with a couple of keystrokes -- but she doesn't.
 

job

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I have also read on this forum that folks have had their MS rejected because they underlined instead of using italics.

This is totally bizarre.

I know you are merely reporting what someone else said,

but I'm having trouble believing a standard publisher would reject a good manuscript for a formatting choice, especially one that's widely accepted.
 

James D. Macdonald

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I have also read on this forum that folks have had their MS rejected because they underlined instead of using italics. Several were even put in their place about doing it.

Certainly not by any place that anyone would want to be published in.


Always follow the individual market's guidelines.
 

Chris P

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To be safe, I would read the submission details of any agent/publisher and see what way they want it first. An agent might prefer the italics and a publisher might prefer the underline.

I've published about 50 scientific articles in scholarly journals, and never once has the journal requested underlining for species names or otherwise. Some even expressly state not to use underlining.

For fiction, the agent websites I have visited have never gone into that depth in their guidelines, at least never that I've seen.

I don't have my Chicago or APA manuals handy, but I think they mostly want italics. I know CBE does.
 
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Chris P

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Oh, and underlining, as someone said above, comes from typewriter days when italics required special equipment but all machines had an underline.
 

Albannach

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Yes. It's easier to get the material in the format you require to rekeyboard it than to massage any of dozens of word processor formats, with any number of errors, inconsistencies, and hidden codes in them, into a manageable text.
Really! I wouldn't have thought so, but on consideration, Word, for example, has tons of hidden code that could be a huge problem to clean up. I assume that, as with newspapers where I have some experience, they load it into templates and don't start formatting from scratch every time. Hidden code could easily make a mess of it.

I have been told by editors that underlining has more function that coming from "typewriter days" because it is simply harder to miss than italics for typesetters and editors. But that's hearsay.
 

ORION

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My editor and agent let me use all the italics I want.
I've not seen them underlined...even when copyediting...
 

Medievalist

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If you're editing on hardcopy, underlining is easier to make notes on/around than italics; the letter spacing is different by default on italics, so indicating an insertion using conventional marks can be PITA.
 

JGKelly

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"Typsetting" went out with Nixon. Italicize all you want, since they're just running everything off of a drive. Smiley faces included.

Pubs don't edit. Typeface? Like...like they're setting letters into a press? Omg.

How many books have you read where, say, a "thought" was underlined?

Ridiculous. Underline and get rejected.
 

Shadow_Ferret

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Ridiculous. Underline and get rejected.

Um. No. Underlining, unless specified otherwise in their guidelines, is still standard. You won't be rejected for using it.

And as Uncle Jim said:
Certainly not by any place that anyone would want to be published in.


Always follow the individual market's guidelines.
 

Medievalist

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"Typsetting" went out with Nixon. Italicize all you want, since they're just running everything off of a drive. Smiley faces included.

Pubs don't edit. Typeface? Like...like they're setting letters into a press? Omg.

How many books have you read where, say, a "thought" was underlined?

Ridiculous. Underline and get rejected.

You really don't know what you're talking about. At all.

Books are still typeset. We use high end software like QuarkExpress, Framemaker and InDesign, and even the antiquated PageMaker. Books are still designed, and edited--with more than one editor touching the mss. at most publishers.

Most submission guidelines still specify Courier 10, and underlining. Some are accepting Times New Roman and italics--but the typesetter is going to have re-do all the italics anyway, because you'll not be using a true italic.
 

job

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I'll have to admit I underline for Italics.

I'm not trying to mimic what a book looks like. I'm submitting a ms.

Underlining makes it easy for everyone in the entire editing and production process to see what's going on, at a glance.
The editor and agent don't care one way or the other what I do, so long as it's all readable.
Underlining jumps out at the copyeditor, who has to make decisions on some of it.
And the book designer just wants to know what text goes into Italics. He's not going to use any of my fonts anyway.
 
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maestrowork

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I use underline. It's much easier to see than italics, even for TNR. With courier, it's near impossible to spot italics, so don't even try.
 

RikkiKane

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Wow! Very mixed opinions here. I suppose I should just ask the agent this if they request to see my work? I suppose it's safe to assume that I won't get rejected just for using italics?

I am a little concerned though, as I do use courier new 12 font and I very much value the opinions of maestrowork who I think is the most noble person on this site.
 

RikkiKane

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Right there you reveal one problem, and perhaps another. First, it doesn't matter three spits in a strong north wind what you enjoy, relative to submission manuscripts, and the sooner you realize that, the better off you'll be. It matters what the person you're submitting to "enjoys". That, and nothing else.

Regards italics, many editors prefer underlining simply because it's easier to see in a manuscript. I do a lot of technical editing, where scientific names are required to be rendered in final print production in italics. In manuscript, I virulently prefer underlining for exactly this reason.

Second (and I don't know if this applies, but your statement makes me suspicious), if you "enjoy" using italics, does that mean you're using a lot of italics in your writing? If so, I'd recommend you take a good hard brutally sadistic look at the use of such a font device. Many readers absolutely hate the overuse of italic font.

caw


Thanks for your your kind advice and concern. Although I'm a new writer, I'm pretty much on the ball and I rarely use italics in my novel. I only use them when I'm describing the exact thoughts of my pov character (I don't italicize paraphrasing and my interior monologue).

I also use them from time to time to emphasize words but not often. I think I have the balance just fine ... I hope! You guys are so fantastic I wouldn't know what to do without you now!
 
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