When to Italicize

It often confuses new writers as to when to italicize words and when not to. This is natural because there are no set rules for this and much depends on the writer’s own discretion. However, there are certain guidelines that tell you what needs to be italicized. Here they are:

1. Emphasis. When you want to put an emphasis, or want a word or phrase to stand out from the rest.  For example:

You mean to say you wrote this?

Do not write on the wall.

2. Words as separate words. When words in a sentence are used as separate words. For example:

Don’t forget to italicize the word hope.

Committee is a word that is often misspelled.

3. Letters as words. When letters of the alphabet are used as words in a sentence. For example:

Put an X on the spot that needs to be fixed.

Don’t forget to cross your t’s.

4. Reproduced sounds as words.  Sometimes sounds are reproduced to bring effect to the writing. For example:

Thud, the parcel fell on the ground.

Bzzzzzz … the bee buzzed.

5. Foreign words. Foreign words and phrases that are unfamiliar to most readers. For example:

The lawyer says it’s a prima facie case.

Namaste,” the Indian man folded his hands in greeting.

6. Titles. Titles of books, plays, magazines, newspapers, movies, television shows etc. (Holy Books like the Bible, Koran, and others are not italicized.) For example:

Seinfeld is a popular TV program.

He reads the New York Times every morning.

7. Names of vehicles. Names of spaceships, boats, trains etc. that are proper names. For example:

The Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg.

The Orient Express is a fast train.

Keep these points in mind and you will know when to italicize words. If you’re still in doubt, just use standard font.

I hope this has been of help to you. If not, what else would you like to know about italics?

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Avoid the Use Clichés

So many blog posts and articles have been written about the overuse of clichés and why they should be avoided. Even writing and journalism courses give the same advice – ‘Avoid the use of clichés. They are stale and boring. Writers are supposed to be creative, say what you have to say differently’. Still we see their use everywhere. Their power is such that no matter how hard we try, they seem to creep up through whichever way they can. The reason for this may be that we are so used to hearing them, that they inadvertently enter our writing; or they are used for their brevity and precision – they say so much in so few words. Whatever the reason, the rule remains – avoid the use of clichés when writing, especially in business writing. An executive who uses these terms is not only regarded as a bad leader, but a non-creative force as well. The impression is – if you cannot be creative with words, you cannot be creative in business.

Some of the most common clichés used in business are:

  • at the end of the day
  • win-win situation
  • bottom line
  • thinking outside the box
  • wealth of experience
  • low hanging fruit
  • in a nutshell
  • put all the eggs in one basket
  • giving 100%
  • strike while the iron is hot
  • no brainer
  • turn-key solution
  • beat a dead horse
  • everything from soup to nuts
  • leaps and bounds

The list is endless.

Besides sounding boring, clichés have a disadvantage, too. In today’s world, when business has gone global and letters and e-mails have to be written to foreign countries, there are chances of these terms not being understood.  Unless the person reading the clichés is fluent in English and understands the implied meanings, it is best not to use them. But how can you tell if the person will understand them? You can’t. So, this means – don’t use clichés.

According to a recent research, the most used business cliché is “at the end of the day”. Why do you think this is the most used? Do you think some other term should have topped the list? If so, which one?

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Twitter is Top Word of 2009

Every year the Global Language Monitor – an Austin, Texas-based academic organization that documents, analyzes and tracks trends in the English language – selects top English words and phrases used the world over. To do this, it uses a special proprietary algorithm called Predictive Quantities Indicator, or PQI for short. PQI tracks words and phrases throughout the media and the internet in relation to usage, frequency, and appearance in the global media.  Yesterday, the Global Language Monitor announced the top words and phrases for the year 2009.

The top fifteen English words:

1. Twitter

2. Obama

3. H1N1

4. Stimulus

5. Vampire

6. 2.0

7. Deficit

8. Hadron

9. Healthcare

10. Transparency

11. Outrage

12. Bonus

13. Unemployed

14. Foreclosure

15. Cartel

The top ten English phrases:

1. King of Pop

2. Obama mania

3. Climate change

4. Swine flu

5. Too large to fail

6. Cloud computing

7. Public option

8. Jai Ho!

9. Mayan Calendar

10. God particle

If you were to vote for the top ten words and the top ten phrases, which ones would you choose? Do share your views here with us.

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Writing Terms and Phrases

In the world of writing, there are certain terms and phrases which are specific to the writing field. While some of these relate to only writing, there are others which may have one meaning when generally used, and another when specifically applied to writing or anything related to it. What are these different writing terms and phrases? For easy reference, Word-Mart has compiled a list. Though by no means comprehensive, the Glossary does contain the most often used writing terms and phrases. It’s worth bookmarking. Have a look:

GLOSSARY OF WRITING TERMS AND PHRASES

 

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