Write French or foreign words and phrases in italics if they are not considered to have been assimilated into English. A non-English pronunciation often indicates that a word or phrase has not been assimilated.
Many such terms occur in legal, political and musical contexts:
- allegro non troppo
- caveat emptor
- mutatis mutandis
- raison d’état
- res ipsa loquitur
When French or foreign words or phrases are considered to have been assimilated into English, italics are not used:
- ad hoc
- per capita
Do not italicize the names of French or foreign organizations.
- The landlords had to file a complaint with the Régie du logement.
Most dictionaries do not indicate which words or phrases are to be italicized. Among those that do are the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and The Random House Dictionary, but they are not always unanimous. Consult the Canadian Oxford, but also exercise your own judgment, taking into consideration the type of text and intended readership. When in doubt, use roman type.
If an unfamiliar French or foreign term or phrase is used repeatedly in a text, it should be italicized at the first occurrence and accompanied by an explanation. After that, it may be set in roman type.
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