by Timothy McAdoo

(Note: search terms won't be the same as keywords, which appear under an abstract. For more about keywords, see my previous post.)

In imaginative writing, italics can be used to emphasize a particular word, simulating the emphasis you would offer a term if you browse the sentence aloud. The thing is that enough time, right? Nevertheless the APA book handbook recommends using careful syntax, versus italics, for emphasis.

However, the handbook (on p. 105) does recommend making use of italics for the “introduction of a new, technical, or key term or label," adding "(after a term has been utilized when, usually do not italicize it).” I give types of each below.

Brand new or Technical Terms

To find out whether you've got a brand new or technical term, think about your market. A term could be brand new or technical for one market and not for the next. As an illustration, let’s glance at two various uses of expression trained flavor aversion.

This phrase could be considered prevalent in behavioral neuroscience or biological therapy research and so likely maybe not italicized during the very first used in journal articles within that industry.

Example phrase: “Of course, conditioned taste aversion can be one factor when learning children with these benign conditions.”

But, let’s state you are alternatively composing for a log about youth development. Because this market has a unique expertise, it may seem they are less acquainted the idea of trained taste aversion. For the reason that context, you could look at the phrase technical and italicize initial situation within paper.

Example phrase: “Of course also a great deal later on in life these children may avoid avocados due to the fact ofconditioned taste aversion, associating them, consciously or unconsciously, with emotions of illness.”

Search Terms

(Note: search terms won't be the same as key words, which look under an abstract. For lots more about keywords, see my previous post.)

A key term italicized in an APA Style paper signals to readers they should pay close attention. This may be since you are determining a word or phrase in an original manner or because the term is vital to the knowledge of your paper. For example, i may italicize a term that will be used through the rest of a paper about conditioning:

Example phrase: “Conditioned taste aversion is an idea never to be over looked.”

That declaration would totally possible be followed by a definition and samples of the concept, but subsequent uses of term wouldn't be italicized.

APA cannot keep a summary of technical or key terms—this is intentional. Only you, the author, can know, or fairly surmise, whether a term is technical towards audience or key towards paper. Let’s have a look at an additional example:

Let’s state you’re composing a paper in regards to the emotional great things about getting a cat. You may naturally use the term feline often times. Nonetheless, you probably won’t italicize its first usage because, for most audiences, it’s a familiar term. Still, as a careful writer, if you’ve utilized the phrase often, it’s worth taking into consideration why. Let’s state you’ve talked about in great detail the manner in which you believe feline traits change from similar traits of other household pets. In that case, you might think about the comprehension of the phrase feline key to your paper, and also you could italicize 1st use and maybe consist of a definition.

As possible inform, determining whether you have got key, brand new, or technical terms is subjective. Your paper might have none. Or, if you want to delineate numerous crucial ideas within a paper, you may have a few.


I’ve spared the easiest category for last! Utilize italics for labels. The Manual gives this instance: “box labeled empty.”

Of these, you need to italicize each and every time the word is used as a label.

Example phrase: «The package labeled empty had been complete. Boxes labeled empty should remain empty.»


Utilize italics for the first case of a new or technical term, a key term, or a label. Don’t italicize the following appearances of the latest or technical terms or key terms.

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