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Lean to the Right • Using Italic Type in Desktop Publishing

Setting type in italics


italics text examples

Examples of italics

While roman typefaces are upright, italic typefaces slant to the right. But rather than being just a slanted or tilted version of the roman face, a true or pure italic font is drawn from scratch and has unique features not found in the roman face.
Use italics to create subtle emphasis and to set apart certain names and titles.

Examples of Italics
Generally italics are lighter in appearance than normal type with finer strokes. True italics are not simply an upright typeface that's been tilted (those are oblique faces). Italics have their own design that may echo the upright members of their family but with subtle differences.

In the examples (sidebar), notice the different shape of the lowercase a in the Lucida Sans sample as well as the changed shape of the bowl on the d. In the Century Schoolbook sample see how the serifs on the legs of the italic n, h, and l curl slightly. The upper arm of the italic k is a loop.

Designing with Italics
Here are some ways to use italics in your design and usage guidelines:

  • Always italicize titles and names as follows:

    • books: I just read Barnaby Rudgeby Charles Dickens.

    • magazines: Have you seen the lastest issue of Soap Opera Digest?

    • newspapers: The Austin American-Statesman is our local daily paper.

    • trains or ships: I had a cousin aboard the Titantic.

    • movies: Forest Gump was shown on network TV last week.

    • works of art: Who painted the Mona Lisa?

    • Generally, foreign words and phrases appearing within passages of text are italicized: Her joie de vivre shows in everything she does.

  • Use to give emphasis to single words and short phrases in text. ("I didn't ask for a cola. I said I think I'm coming down with a cold."

  • Long passages of body copy size italicized text (like this) can be difficult to read, especially on screen, so it's best avoided for more than a few words at a time.

  • Set pull-quotes in italics (larger than normal body copy size) for an elegant appearance. (see photo gallery at top of sidebar for an example)

  • Try a single, oversized italic character used as an initial cap.(see photo gallery at top of sidebar for an example)

  • Set type in the italics version of a typeface rather than using the italics style function of your software. If the italics version doesn't appear in your font list after it is installed (common in Windows), then go ahead and use the italics style option (the software should find and use the italics version).

Next > Why it is best to use true italic fonts

The Desktop Document > Text Phase > Text Composition/Emphasis > Italic Type

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