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Nix the Italics

  By Denise Loock   “I just want to make sure the reader gets my point.” That’s often the response I receive when I question a writer’s use of italics for emphasis.   That answer, however, reveals a lack of respect for the reader. The writer is implying readers lack the intelligence to get the point without the added emphasis. The writer is also conveying a truth about himself: “I’m either not skilled enough to communicate my point clearly and precisely, or I’m not willing to invest the extra time to craft a better sentence, so I’ll use italics.”   Ouch.   Before home computers existed, writers didn’t have the option to choose italics, and most realized that underlining words was a grade-school technique. Writers, therefore, were forced to make their words do the work.   According to most style manuals, italics should be used sparingly—for titles of books, magazines, and other publications; for foreign words and phrases; for names of ships, movies, and television sh

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