The example above has three foreign words or phrases, but not all of them need italics. Here are some rules about italicizing foreign words:
- Italicize the word the first time it appears only. Using italics for each reoccurrence may become distracting to readers.
- If a foreign word is familiar to readers because it’s passed into common use, such as “apropos,” “camouflage,” and “quasi,” then you do not need to italicize the word.
- If you’re not sure whether a foreign word is commonly used, look it up in Webster’s Dictionary. If it’s in Webster’s, then it probably doesn’t need to be italicized. However, as the writer, you can decide that the word is unfamiliar and use italics anyway. It depends on the audience. For example, “démarche” has an entry in Webster’s, but unless I’m writing for the Foreign Service, where it’s a common term, I might decide to use italics the first time it appears.
- Proper nouns in foreign languages are never italicized.
- If a whole sentence or more consists of foreign words, then use quotation marks instead of italics.
- If one foreign word is commonly used and one isn’t, italicize them both for consistency.
Remembering these basic rules will help you handle foreign words from “artiste” to “zanahoria.”