Recently, this question was put on hold: Why is "their" italicized?

I'm wondering, why it is considered out of scope? If it's considered to be too close to "analysis of literature," that would seem to me like a valid reason in principle, although I might disagree. However, in the comments section, Oldcat suggested that the reason the question was off-topic was because

Italics are for emphasis, and are not part of the English language.

I don't think this is a valid reason to close a question, and as Mortimer Ballsack pointed out, there are already many questions on the site tagged with . Should they all be closed?

In the Help Center, it is stated that questions about "Spelling and punctuation" are on topic. Italics are not exactly either, but I feel they are similar. I understand that this is "English Language and Usage" Stack Exchange, not Typography Stack Exchange, but there are elements that overlap. I think questions about the use of typographical elements in English, such as ligatures or italics, should be considered on topic (assuming the question is not about graphic design.)

There can be differences between languages in the use of italics; see this article about German punctuation for some examples of where German writers use quotation marks where an English writer would use italics.

Some other relevant tags: , , ,

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    Lack of research shown on a very basic question.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 0:46
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    @tchrist: that also makes sense as a close reason, though it's not the reason listed below the question. The official close reason is that it's off-topic.
    – herisson
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 1:09
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    That's an artifact of the way mixed close reasons are displayed. Doesn't mean nobody vote forr what I mentioned, just that it wasn't the majority.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 4:26
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    'Why does this article use ...' questions can very often be indeterminate or at least very susceptible to different opinions. 'Like so many rules in the English language, rules for italicization vary.' [grammar.yourdictionary.com/punctuation] However, this question seems acceptable (until we get to 'Lack of research shown on a very basic question'). Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 13:43
  • Keen eye, Mortimer Ballsack. We use italics when placing foreign words within a familiar context, when formatting the titles of longer texts, and when showing emphasis, so I do not see any reason why they would be considered off-topic. In fact, it seems to me that italics have quite a bit in common with quotation marks and apostrophes. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 20:09
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    Yes, italics are on-topic as part of punctuation or orthography or writing. But, like single word requests, it could easily be closable for many other reasons. (like @tchrist pointed out).
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 12:34

1 Answer 1


More than one out of ten people (99 views, +11) upvoted the accepted answer and half of them upvoted the question (+6). There are 46 questions tagged italics. Four of which are closed and there's a few duplicates. This OP's question should be historically locked, or its duplicate found, as apparently inquiring minds would like to know how to use italics. Point in case: this question's +10.

It should be closed as being a duplicate and general reference, though I expect that reference to be here.

Which it is: Usage of italics in writing?


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