The Italics Dilemma: A Call For Revolution

Every English class I’ve ever been in has drilled into my brain the conventions for dropping titles in writing. Italics, italics, italics! (Or quotes sometimes.) And I’ve taken a lot of English classes.

You probably know the rundown if you’ve ever been in an English class. You also probably don’t really care, at least in your everyday writing. Why should you? It’s pointless and irrelevant minutiae, right? Well, English majors love pointless and irrelevant minutiae; let me tell you.

So it might surprise you if you go back a few months in this blog: I was dropping titles left and right without italicizing them! I know — horrifying, right? But it was actually a conscious choice. I wanted to be nice and casual with the whole thing, so I just… didn’t do anything with titles. No italics. No quotes.

The English major in me was nagging me the whole time, of course. And there’re some valid reasons to italicize titles or slap them in a pair of quotes, admittedly. It sets them apart from bulk of the text, and it’s especially useful when the title of something is also the name of a character in it. Like that time when I posted about Black Rock Shooter, which also has a character in it named Black Rock Shooter. Trust me — it’s the least confusing thing in that series.

I finally gave in and let my English major roots take hold. For a while now, I’ve been super-extra careful with my titles. I’ve done my professors proud… but now there’s a new set of problems.

This ain’t no English major’s blog. I mean… it is, but you won’t find the same stuffy, academic language here that you’d find in my thesis papers. Surprisingly, they don’t really appreciate my flippant, forged-in-the-bowels-of-the-internet voice in academic spaces, so I let it out to play here. You may have noticed. I also use dashes, hyphens, italics — even quotes — all over the dang place. Which means in some places even italicized titles will get lost.

I mean, look at this very post! The italics are out of control. Is this a title? Am I just trying to add emphasis? I don’t know! It’s madness.

Okay, it’s not that bad, but it offends my sensitive aesthetic sensibilities. It looks messy. But I can’t go back to leaving titles in plain text. I can’t betray my roots!

What’s the solution, then? Other than going to Italics Rehab, how do I make this look like less of a mess? It shouldn’t have to be this way. Why should titles require we use italics — use quotes — when those things are already busy serving other purposes? We’ve got so many other tools at our disposal! Bold text. Underlines. Fonts! COLOR!

I’m calling on you — on us — as a culture (the culture of the internet!) to stand up and make a change. We need to devise a new system here. Embrace our new toolset. Shed the outdated, confusing conventions! Forge our own way! Fight the power!

So who’s with me?


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