Underlining is a way to distinguish, or emphasize, specific text, a word or group of words, from that around it. As wordprocessing has become more prevalent and more sophisticated, many writers choose to italicize rather than underline; thus, the two techniques are interchangeable. Therefore, it is technically incorrect to underline an italicized word(s) or italicize an underlined word(s).
1) DO NOT underline/italicize punctuation (commas, end marks, semicolons, colons) that follows the words being underlined/italicized, unless the punctuation is part what is being underlined/italicized.
For example: Callie Ann Metcalf announces the release of her seminal book on Southern girls, Friends Make the Tea Sweet, Enemies Add the Ice!
2) Underline/Italicize the titles of things that can stand alone:
- Journals and Magazines
- Long Music Compositions
- Television Shows
- Radio Shows
- Art Pieces
- Published Speeches
- Lengthy Poems
For example: Her last article, "Summer House," which appeared in The New Yorker, offers a teaser about what readers can expect from the longer manuscript.
4) Underline/italicize names of famous planes, trains, automobiles, boats, space craft, and other vehicles, but not vehicle makes, models, manufacturers or brands. The prefixes USS, HMS and RMS are never underlined/italicized.
For example: We rode in his Dodge Charger to the re-enactment of the sinking of the S.S. Titanic.
5) Notice! DO NOT underline/italicize titles of religious works or the chapters within them.
For example: Read your Bible every day. The Gospel of Luke is my favorite book.
6) Underline/italicize foreign words that are not loanwords (see my L post) or easily translated by a majority of readers.
For example: Frederick snickered quietly just behind Felicia's shoulder, pushing her buttons until her temper boiled to al dente. Then, she caught herself and backed off the burner.
7) Underline/italicize words under discussion.
For example: When you say the word etiquette, my posture goes prim.
8) Underline/italicize sound words.
For example: Shhhstka-stka-stka, shhhstka-stka-stka. The boys could hear the rattlesnake, before they could see it.
Though, many teachers and many writers still prefer underlining, I almost always italicize instead. To me, the text looks cleaner and the eye flows across it easier, while the brain still understands that the words are being emphasized for a particular reason. All in all, it comes down to personal preferences. Which do you tend to use?
Tomorrow: Verb-Subject Agreement (I know I have it in reverse order. Give me a break. V is hard.)
This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.