A slant on AP style

The most popular post on this blog is from 2009, getting a couple of dozen hits a day, mostly via search engines.

The topic: Should blog titles be italicized? My answer: “It depends.”

This week, Colleen Barry, a copy editor in Boston, asked a similar question on Twitter: “Hey editors, if you used an AP-based house style that italicizes book titles, would you italicize the names of court cases?”

My friend and former colleague Pam Nelson, an editor at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, responded: “The publications I work for use italics on cases.” I noted that I had italicized names of court rulings when writing for academic journals.

As a teenager, I read a lot of books and magazines about music and movies. These publications tended to use italics. I liked the look of the slanted type.

Rolling Stone, for example, used italics for names of albums and quotation marks for song titles. That was sometimes helpful to distinguish a song from an album. (Did you know that “Houses of the Holy” by Led Zeppelin is on Physical Graffiti and not Houses of the Holy?)

As I moved into a career in journalism, I gave up on my interest in italics because I worked for newspapers that used Associated Press style. The Associated Press Stylebook has never been big on italics, stating flatly: “AP does not italicize words in news stories.”

You may, of course, use a different stylebook or set your own style on italics. That’s what Colleen decided to do: “Got several yes votes on my italics question, and I do love flouting AP style, so italics it is.”

Fair enough. Better to flout it than to flaunt it.