I have often seen the term emphasis mine used whenever an author wishes to denote that emphasis in a given quotation originates from said author rather than from the original source.

What is the proper place for this phrase?

One possibility is immediately following the emphatic text, inside the quotation. But, see next question...

What if there are multiple emphatic sections marked within the quote?

If "emphasis mine" comes immediately after each phrase, it would end up repeated two or more times, which seems a bit messy. In this case, would it be OK to place "emphasis mine" at the end of the quotation? If so, should it be inside or outside?

How should the phrase "emphasis mine" be set off?

I believe I have seen parentheses () or brackets [], though brackets are also used to indicate words added by the one using the quotation.

  • As far as I know there are no rules governing the location of emphasis-mine notes in text except that they must be in the same place. – user19148 Nov 4 '12 at 22:11
  • This rule of consistency, then, strongly suggests that, if there are many instances of added italics, they probably are best put at the end of a short quotation, at the end of each paragraph in a multi-paragraph quotation, at the end of a line in a poem, at the end of a stanza in a song. It's also reasonable & not uncommon to say "[Italics added]". – user21497 Nov 4 '12 at 23:03
  • This question needs to be migrated to writersSE. I had wanted to say that in the first place. – Kris Nov 5 '12 at 14:55
  • 3
    @Kris: No, not at all, this is totally on-topic for ELU. I think anything addressable by a manual of style is no-topic here. – Mitch Nov 5 '12 at 16:07
  • @Mitch: Especially these kind of style recommendations apply across languages. They are applicable to papers written in any or most languages and to translations from one to another. Any reference to English is more incidental than prescriptive I believe. BTW, "by a manual of style is no-topic here": you mean "on-topic here", I get it. – Kris Nov 6 '12 at 6:46

Wikipedia's Manual of Style, similar to most other style manuals, says:

Do not put quotations in italics unless the material would otherwise call for italics, such as for emphasis and the use of non-English words. Indicate whether italics were used in the original text or whether they were added later. For example, directly from the Manual of Style:

"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." [emphasis added]

  • 2
    Yes - I use (italics mine) on ELU because I don't feel the need to be particularly "formal" here, but in many real-world contexts [emphasis added] is obviously much more appropriate. Plus of course, formal contexts often use square brackets for "extraneous material" in the vicinity of verbatim quoted material. – FumbleFingers Nov 4 '12 at 23:46
  • Yes, and in those real-world contexts, there's usually a required style manual with specific rules about all this clerical stuff: it ain't English, that's for sure. And when there isn't, it's best to use the style manual you prefer: the Chicago Manual of Style is as good a choice as any general style manual, and the APA Style Manual is as bad a choice as anyone could ever make. Both judgments strictly IMHO. – user21497 Nov 4 '12 at 23:56

What I found most subtle among the different methods I've seen was to put it right between the introductory text and the quotation itself, between parentheses. Like so (emphasis mine):


In this way, it's easy for the reader not to focus on that if he doesn't care, and to be aware of it when actually reading the quotation if he does.

I wouldn't call that a rule, but I don't think there's much more but good practices adressing this question either.

In French¹, I stumbled on the interesting other technique of embedding this information in the surrounding text. Translating² :

[…] : « [book extract] Maintenant, […], blaguons… »³

Balzac emphasised that, then to comment : “[…] dazed, as it could have been hearing an angel blaspheming.” We emphasized that.

The author highlights Balzac's comment, but I'm the one who highlights the way he inserts it in the text.

¹ in which I don't see many such notices, because emphasis is seldom added, I reckon.
² It's about the etymology of “blague” (→blaguons), hence the importance of that word being emphasized by the original author.
³ Italics for being foreign ommited for the sake of it all.


As a general rule-of-thumb, place "(emphasis mine)" immediately after the quotation.

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins" (Eph. 2:1, emphasis mine). (Bowland)
Not: "Uneasy (emphasis mine) feelings, feelings of compassion ... (emphasis mine)"

Where there are many sections that you emphasized and probably extended over several sentences, or even paragraphs, you can, alternately, place it at the beginning of the quote, preferably with a terminal colon. "(emphasis mine:) Uneasy feelings, feelings of compassion ... "

When there's already an emphasized part within the quote, place "(emphasis mine)" immediately after the part that you have emphasized.

"According to the pragmatic view, the proper goal of science is to augment and order (emphasis mine) our experience." (Cory) -- The word 'augment' was already in italics in the original; 'order' is being emphasized by you.

The most common practice seems to enclose the phrase "emphasis mine" in simple parentheses: "(emphasis mine)" -- where there's a possibility of ambiguity, you can switch to square braces, "[]". However, one needs to be consistent throughout in the convention.

  • I find this interrupts the thought too much. – aparente001 Dec 22 '16 at 5:13

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