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Latin expressions and italics

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By Mary Morel

Reader’s question: Do you put Latin expressions in italics? For example, ad nauseam and sic.

Online grammar answer: Most Latin expressions are now so commonplace there is no need for italics. However, you are not wrong if you use them.

The Australian government style guide (Style manual: For authors, editors and printers) says:

‘With the rapid increase in the number of expressions being borrowed from other languages, dictionaries are tending to italicise borrowed expressions far less frequently than in the past. Nevertheless, dictionaries do differ. Some, such as The Macquarie Dictionary, do not italicise any ‘foreign’ words or phrases – on the principle that these borrowings can be regarded as having been absorbed into English if they are sufficiently familiar to warrant a place in the dictionary. Other dictionaries continue to make some distinctions. The best advice is to choose a dictionary and follow its lead: if the term is italicised in the dictionary, use italics; if it is not included in the dictionary, also use italics. ‘

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