I've been reviewing old movie reviews recently, going through one review just to get to another one that forced me to check the previous again for certain flaws in my formatting.
The hours flew by, and it came to a point where revision was perfection bordering on obsession, and I had to either give up or do something to let me actually finish the task. Have you ever been stuck in the loop of eternal revisions before? I get there often, usually when there are things I know I should be doing instead gnawing on my mind. Whatever the reason: it's not fun.
If you've been there, there is one common remedy you might want to try before giving up: planning.
With a plan, or rather a set of rules, you shouldn't need to continually revise your writing. You may want to go back and check just once more anyway, as us OCD folks do, but cast that thought aside before you start thinking too much about it! And more importantly: take steps to assure that each piece of text is complete when you finish it, and that gnawing urge to revise may very well disappear. It's human to err, and if you don't find the error the first two times you read through your text (proof-reading twice is my rule #1), chances are nobody else will either. If they do they can let you know, it'll be much faster and easier to edit that way! Alright? This is probably more motivation for myself than any of you readers...
Anyway, the point I'm getting to here is one re-occurring wonder I've had that's been bogging me down during these review reviewings, and that is: how to use Italics. I've previously used two techniques in writing. I've either italicized the important text, or I've 'single quoted and italicized'. I've used italics for titles and names, but not all titles and names, and I've used single quotes for longer phrases, but also for titles and names.
So, what to do? I Googled, and found this useful article.
Basically, you can italicize names of titles, releases, vehicles, sounds, foreign words and words you wish to emphasize. Underlines and italics apparently have the same function, though personally I read underlines in a bolder, deeper voice than I do italics (I read them in my mind).
What about single quotes versus italics? Here's a little Q & A, that doesn't reach a definite conclusion, but offers some good advice on what and what not to do.
The main rule of thumb is: stay consistent. Both italicized, single, or double quotes work, but stay consistent. Use the same formatting for everything. One user recommends using quotation marks in addition to italicized text only when it needs to be distinguished; could otherwise cause confusion. Another user recommends emboldening text for emphasis, and using italic text only for references when working with a lot of references. There's no definite answer, but in order to make a definite set of rules for myself, I decided to use:
- italics as references mainly for titles, releases and fictional names in segments of text with few references. In lists or series of references regular text will suffice.
- italics also to place emphasis on certain words, though taking care not to overuse this... as I have done in a bunch of older posts.
- bold text to emphasize words when they're to be spoken louder, or for conclusive emphasis (example: The End).
- 'single quotes' for bits and pieces: words, phrases, etc, that should be distinguished from surrounding text but aren't direct quotes (example: as IMDB used to say, he was like a 'gust of breezeful paranoia'). Note IMDB never actually said that.
- 'single quotes with italicized text' when the distinguishable piece of text, such as above, should be emphasized.
- "double quotes" only for spoken word or direct quotation.
- block quotes for quotations or textual segments that should be referenced, that either span multiple lines or are the main focus of a post.
There! Done! Hope that'll make revising reviews a little easier from now on...