Is it current practice to italicize terms borrowed from the source language?
Thread poster: tere1

United States
Oct 24, 2013

When translating from English>Spanish, is it considered a professional standard to italicize words from the source language that cannot be translated, like the names of companies, programs, insurance plans, etc.?


Teresa Borges
Local time: 14:04
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Useful, perhaps Oct 24, 2013


Jean-Pierre Artigau (X)
Local time: 09:04
English to French
+ ...
See Canadian Style Oct 24, 2013

This is the Canadian Style Manual (of the Canadian Government's Translation Bureau). Type Italics in the window and see what appears. You will certainly find an answer to your question, although it might not be valid for all countries. There are various conventions in different countries and different languages.



neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, for me anyway Oct 25, 2013

I'm currently translating a text about Brazil and when we leave the original terms intact, for example "Fazenda"... we italicise them to distinguish them from the rest of the text.
However, the decision to do this was taken jointly by me and client, without reference to any guides or manuals. I imagine other outfits have other criteria, but my clients are usually happy with what I suggest.

PS: Thanks to Teresa for posting the EU link, which will come in handy for reference in EU projects.

[Edited at 2013-10-25 07:16 GMT]


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:04
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Not necessarily Oct 25, 2013

Names of companies should simply be written correctly.

Programmes or insurance plans: I capitalise the first letters as for a headline. I would probably include a translation in brackets if the name is self-explanatory in the source.

Names of publications (newspapers, novels, articles) I italicise. I see that the EU link given by Teresa does this. I was wondering whether to continue as I increasingly see such names simply capitalised.

I also italicise any foreign words. When these words are French, I invariably add a note to say that I have deliberately left them in French, for a "French touch", and that the client's target audience will be able to understand. It's amazing how many times a client has queried this, even when the thrust of their advertising revolves around the fact that their product is typically French, which is the case for perhaps 70% of my clientele,.


Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:04
Dutch to English
+ ...
In translated literature Oct 25, 2013

it is also common to leave original words that can't really be translated in italics.


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:04
English to Polish
+ ...
... Nov 23, 2013

Usually so. I might leave them in normal font when putting them in slashes but only in that case.


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Is it current practice to italicize terms borrowed from the source language?

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