How To Voice Copy That’s Set In Italics

Hey, there!

The other day, I got a question from my client Sara asking me an interesting question.

How would she narrate an audiobook passage that included some of the copy set in italics?

GREAT question. Here’s the answer. And here’s the other answer. And the other other answer.

David

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Hope this helps!

David

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hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and the other day I got a question via
email from my client Sarah she asked me
a really interesting question comes up a
lot and I thought I’d deal with it in
this video how do you narrate an
audiobook passage that includes some
copy that set in italics so kind of
slanted text it’s a great question it’s
one of those questions it’s kind of like
asking what does the word bi-monthly
mean because it actually has a couple of
different meanings it can either mean
every other month or it can mean twice
in one month so bimonthly has kind of
like two meanings same word different
meanings and same thing with italics you
have italics can mean a couple of
different things usually when people
write and use italics they’re talking
about unspoken thoughts and what you do
with that is exactly what you would
think you lower your pitch you drop your
register and you project confidentially
as though you don’t want anybody else to
hear like how’s your coffee dear she
said that’s odd
he used sugar he never uses sugar is he
cheating on me right so notice that I
dropped my voice that was the the latter
half of that from that’s odd – is he
cheating on me was in italics and so
that’s one way to do that and you
basically do what you’ve seen on
television forever without the reverb
without the the added you know you know
change to the audio just in your
presentation make it confidential you’re
talking to yourself you don’t want
anybody else to hear sometimes people
use italics not for the unspoken
thoughts but to highlight or emphasize
something so same scene how’s your
coffee dear she said do you mean my
espresso it sucks he sneered
espresso was in italics there you had
like start of sarcasm emphasis it’s
still in italics but it’s in the
opposite direction of unspoken thoughts
right and you can take that even further
with italics if there is exclamation
points used same scene drink your coffee
dear she said drink it and drink it now
maybe the now was in italics in all caps
so those are the three main ways that
you would would narrate italics unspoken
thoughts emphasizing and then loudness
and then there’s one other thing
sometimes it’s not in in italics but in
parenthesis and they’re treated the same
way a subjunctive clause a separate
thought that supports what you’re
talking about so for example Williams
made the deposit that afternoon he was
already on his way to the liquor store
and the bank was conveniently next door
and made sure he put the tellers receipt
in his wallet so if that was in
parentheses that he was already on his
way to the liquor store and the bank was
conveniently next door you’re doing the
same thing you’re kind of talking to
yourself and you’re doing things like
hey I just like to give you this little
side note and all you do is adjust your
performance just a little bit to give
you that that off to the side feel like
hey here’s something you might be
interested in here’s why this happened
or here’s what you might want to know
else about this situation right so it’s
always kind of under the breath and a
change in pitch to a different note I’m
talking I’m talking I’m talking but this
stuff is in parentheses and then the
rest of the sentence continues from
there right so the pitch changes and and
that sort of thing it’s kind of like
when you’re doing dictation and you say
left paren right paren or a quote
unquote right so I hope that helps is
that something that you’ve thought about
and thought well that that makes sense
to me
or have you been puzzled by it let me
know in the comments below and let me
know if you have any other questions I’m
actually doing an AMA coming up for the
hundredth episode of these one-a-day
videos where you can ask me anything
that’s why we’re calling it an AMA thank
you reddit for making that part of the
public lexicon I’ll be looking through
all the comments from all the videos
that I’ve done and I will be picking the
ones that would would appeal to the
general audience but I’m not gonna pick
them based on you know how interesting
they are or like if somebody said how do
I find your videos on YouTube you know
that’s that’s probably not something
that I’ll answer but if somebody goes
how come you’re so fat or how did you
get started in acting or why do you wear
those goofy glasses or what camera do
you use
I mean the questions might be
embarrassing you know but if somebody
has a question like that and they want
me to answer it I guess I will try to be
respectful
but you know I’m it’s coming up on the
hundredth episode so if you want to ask
me a question and you haven’t place to
comment on any of the videos for me to
find a question go ahead and send it to
me
send me an e-mail at david lawrence at
gmail.com and put in the subject line
ama question so that i know you want me
to use it for the the ask me anything
section that’s coming up in the
hundredth episode if you want to
subscribe to my youtube channel go ahead
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you I’m David H Lawrence the 17 I thank
you so much for watching and I’ll talk
to you tomorrow.

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Responses

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  1. Thanks for the tips. I think I am doing these things, but it is nice to review. There have, however, been instances within the manuscript(s) I have received wherein the author is indicating a dream or nightmare or past experience with the italics. Could these instances be approached in the same manner? Or maybe I should should say, I hope they could. Because that is often what I do.

  2. Do I treat text in quotations (other than conversations) the same way? For example if I were talking in person, I might use my hands to indicate “air quotes” …. how do I do that with my voice?

    1. It depends on the situation, but not usually. Air quotes are usually more direct and energetic, just as you would say them in real life.

  3. Great info as usuall. I never really thought about the italics as most of the books I read dont use them because they are more “how to” books, but I will remember this if I ever do a book with characters.

  4. I find the same thing when I’d reading bullet points. It may be lead by a sentence with a trailing colon. And the points tend to be sentence fragments. For me it tends to be a matter of pacing and fairliy consistent tonal inflection at the beginning of the bullet point. The pause at the end along with a different inflection should hopefully signal this is the end of that block.