Italic type

fr:Italique fi:Kursiivi Italic type is a form of type that slants slightly to the right and uses different glyph shapes, used to distinguish or otherwise set off certains words within text. The term oblique is also used when referring to the italic of a sans-serif font where the slant is the only significant change in the form.

An example of italic text.

Italics are used for:

  • Emphasis.
  • The titles of works that stand by themselves, such as books or newspapers. Works that appear within larger works, such as short stories or newspaper articles, are not italicized, but merely set off in quotation marks.
  • The names of ships.
  • Foreign words.
  • Using a word as an example of a word, rather than for its semantic content
  • Introducing terms.
  • Symbols for physical quantities and other mathematical variables.

If something within a run of italics needs to be italicized itself (for example, the name of a ship within a sentence already italicized for emphasis), the type is switched back to non-italicized (Roman) type.

In media where italicization is not possible (such as a typewriter or handwriting), underlining is typically used instead.


Italic text was originally used to give printing the style of the handwriting common in Italy at the time, and generally italic fonts were considered distinct typefaces in themselves, not the variants they are nowadays. Except for capital letters (which were printed in roman type), entire books were printed in italic type. It was not until later that the modern distinction between italic and roman type was developed.

Italic fonts have shown some influences from types and hands common in other regions in the time since they first developed.

Use in web pages

Italic type can be produced in HTML through the use of the <i> tag, although this usage is deprecated in favor of cascading style sheet solutions (see below). When an author wants to indicate emphasized text, which is often rendered in italics, they should use the <em> tag, though this should not be relied on to render in italics. Italic type is achieved in CSS by using the statement font-style: italic;



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