Italics and Quotation Marks
Q. Hello CMOS! A book I am copyediting contains a text message inside quotation marks (as in, My friend then texted me: “Have you read XYZ?”). The text message in question contains a book title. Would you set the book title in italics, or leave it in roman, as it presumably was in the original text message? Thanks for your help!
A. For the text message to be fully believable, it needs to feel like a text message. So leave the italics out. If you’re afraid of ambiguity, use the narrative to supply the missing context (“She was referring to the book by So-and-So”). But in ordinary fictional dialogue, apply the italics to help your readers; it’s understood that people don’t speak in edited text, so you don’t have to worry about authenticity. For some additional considerations, see “Formatting Text Messages in Fiction” at CMOS Shop Talk.