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Italics are used for:

  • titles of books and periodicals and publications in other media
  • titles of temporary exhibitions (when used in running text)
  • names of ships, aircraft and other vehicles
  • legislation and legal authorities
  • some elements of scientific names
  • emphasis and for words used in special senses
  • words and phrases in languages other than English

Roman type

Roman is type that is upright, as opposed to italics.

Books, periodicals and other media

Books and periodicals

Use maximal capitalisation and italics for book titles and their subtitles, regardless of how the titles are presented on the cover or title page of the book:

Painting the Land StoryAffluenza: When Too Much Is Never Enough
Ernabella BatiksKakadu: The Making of a National Park
A Short History of AustraliaHorace the Baker's Horse

The definite article can be omitted if its inclusion would result in awkward reading:

In his Redundancy of Courage Timothy Mo …

rather than

In The Redundancy of Courage Timothy Mo …

The titles of periodicals – journals, newspapers and magazines – are often registered trade names. Whether or not that is the case, use maximal capitalisation and italics:

Quadrant the Sydney Morning Herald
the Journal of Economic History the Bulletin
Construction NewsWomen’s Weekly

Note that any ‘the’ preceding the name is neither capitalised nor italicised.

When a possessive s is attached to a title, it and the apostrophe should not be italicised:

the Bulletin’s editor

It is easy to overlook a detail such as this, so rewrite where possible to avoid the apostrophe s:

the editor of the Bulletin

The same applies to plural forms:

two Bulletins

This too can be avoided by rewriting:

two copies of the Bulletin

Chapters in books and articles in periodicals

Use minimal capitalisation when referring to the titles of chapters in books and articles in newspapers, journals and magazines. Use single quotation marks and roman type, not italics:

‘The batik process’

‘People power’

‘Investors hammer Multiplex’


When referring to the title and subtitle of a book or article, always separate them with a colon, even if the publication itself uses a dash, a full stop or simply smaller type. Note that the first word of the subtitle always takes a capital letter:

Modern Times, Modern Places: Life and Art in the 20th Century (book style)

‘Nineteenth-century Australian ceramics: Notes for collectors’ (article style)

Film, video, television and radio

Use italics and maximal capitalisation for the titles of films, videos, CDs and DVDs, and television and radio programs:

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the ChristForeign Correspondent
Play School Meets the OrchestraThe Project
The Sims Livin’ LargeBig Ideas

Note, however, that episodes of television and radio programs are treated in the same way as chapters in a book:

In a Four Corners episode called ‘Crimes and misdemeanours’ …

Musical works

Descriptive titles of musical compositions such as symphonies, concertos, operas and cantatas are presented in roman type with maximal capitalisation:

the Corelli Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No 10

Divertimento No 1 in D, K136

the Brahms Piano Concerto No 2

In contrast, use italics and maximal capitalisation for the specific names of works:

Respighi’s symphonic poem Pines of Rome

Sun Music by Peter Sculthorpe

Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice

Media Vita by John Sheppard

Songs and albums

Song titles are treated in the same way as chapters in a book:


‘Walking into doors’

‘Invisible, invisible’

The title of the album is treated like a book title:

Jamu Dreaming

Slava Grigorian’s Spirit of Spain

Mermaids in the Well, released by Kavisha Mazzella

Dance, opera, ballets and performances

Formal titles of major performed works such as ballets, operas, plays and so on use italics and maximal capitalisation:

The Barber of Seville

Romeo and Juliet



Use roman type, single quotation marks and minimal capitalisation for short poems:

Judith Wright’s ‘Woman to child’

Long poetic works that in themselves constitute an entire publication are treated in the same way as books:

The Man from Snowy River

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Works of art

The titles of individual works of art – paintings, drawings, sculptures, and so on – are italicised and maximal capitalisation is used:

Dean Bowen’s Moon Dog

Wakirlpirri Jukurrpa (Dogwood Tree Dreaming), by Liddy Walker

As the second example shows, a translation of the title is presented in parentheses and italics and with maximal capitalisation.

Museum exhibitions

Temporary exhibition titles are italicised and receive maximal capitalisation when used in running text (but not in web links):

Imagining the Country

Journeys into Space: The Quest for the Origins of Life

Extremes: Survival in the Great Deserts of the Southern Hemisphere

The names of permanent galleries are not italicised – Old New Land, the First Australians gallery and so on.

Ships, aircraft and other vehicles

Names of individual ships, aircraft and other vehicles are given initial capitals and are italicised:

PS Enterprise

the Ghan

GlobalFlyer, piloted by Steve Fossett, won.

the Sorcerer II expedition

Abbreviations such as PS and HMAS are not italicised.

Models, brands and classes of vehicles are given initial capitals but are not italicised.

a Ford Falcon

Qantas’s Boeing 747 Longreach

They flew from Townsville in a BeechJet 400.

The names of specific spaceships are given initial capitals and are italicised:

Sputnik 1

Apollo 10

Note, however, that the names of spacecraft types are not italicised:

an Apollo craft

a type of ballistic missile known as a Pershing

Never use ‘she’ to refer to ships, other vehicles and countries. Use ‘it’ instead.

Legislation and legal authorities


The titles of Acts of parliament are italicised and capitalised on their first, formal mention; in subsequent, informal references without the date, roman type is used:

the Native Title Amendment Act 1998

the Native Title Amendment Act

the Act

If there is any doubt about the jurisdiction of an Act, incorporate that information in the sentence or present it in parentheses and roman type after the Act’s title:

Victoria’s National Parks Act 1964 and the Commonwealth’s World Heritage Properties Convention Act 1983 both provide that …

The National Parks Act 1994 (Vic) makes provision for …

Bills before parliament are capitalised and presented in roman type:

the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005

the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill

the Bill

Italics are also used for full, formal citations of the titles of Ordinances:

the Casino Control Ordinance 1988


the Casino Control Ordinance

the Ordinance

Acts, Bills and Ordinances are divided into sections and use these forms of punctuation and spacing:

section 4 of the Act in s. 4(1)(a) of the Act
in s. 4 of the Bill subsection 4(1)(a) of the Bill
in ss. 4–7 of the Ordinance  

The titles of Regulations and other forms of delegated legislation are not italicised:

the Commonwealth’s Workplace Relations Regulations 1996

the Workplace Relations Regulations

Regulations are divided into regulations:

the Workplace Relations Regulations, r. 18

the Workplace Relations Regulations, rr. 18–20

in r. 18 of the Workplace Relations Regulations

Legal authorities

Use the following form when citing legal authorities:

Butler v. Fairclough (1917) 23 CLR 78

The abbreviated names of the various Australian report series and the formats used for citation are listed in Chapter 12 of the Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers.

On first mention, it is important to provide full details – case name, year, abbreviated name of report series, and starting page number. Subsequent mentions can use the simplified form but should retain the italics:

Butler v. Fairclough

Internal Museum documents and policies

Use maximal capitalisation and roman type:

the National Museum of Australia Workplace Agreement 2005–2008

the Strategic Plan 2004–2007

I will send you the Occupational Health and Safety Policy.

Emphasis and words used in special senses

You can use italics for emphasis, but don’t overdo it.

We don’t have any.

Put it in the bottom drawer.

It was freezing yesterday.

Foreign words and phrases

Foreign words and phrases (other than proper nouns) that have not been fully absorbed into English should be italicised. If the word is not in the Macquarie Dictionary, italicise it. Foreign words that have become common in English usage are not italicised.

Do not italicise foreign words if they are part of direct speech rendered in the original language:

To the Maori this was te aranga o te ra, the rising of the sun.


‘Au revoir,’ he whispered hoarsely, ‘Je t’aime.’

In general, a foreign word or phrase should be used only if it conveys a nuance that cannot be accurately rendered in English.

If a word or phrase is italicised, include any diacritical marks:


See First Australians for the Museum's flexible approach to the use of diacritics with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages

When words or phrases are set in roman type, diacritical marks are often omitted. If their omission would, however, substantially alter pronunciation, the marks should be retained. Again, follow the spellings in the Macquarie Dictionary:

coup de grâce

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