Encoding italic

James Kass via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Mon Jan 21 01:51:19 CST 2019

Responding to David Starner,

It’s true that most users can’t be troubled to take the extra time 
needed to insert any kind of special characters which aren’t covered by 
the keyboard.  Even the enthusiasts among us seldom take the trouble to 
include ‘proper’ quotes and apostrophes in e-mails — even for posting to 
specialized lists such as this one where other members might notice and 
appreciate the extra effort involved.  Even though /we/ know how to do 
it and have software installed to help us do it.

It’s also true that standard U.S. keyboards and drivers aren’t very 
helpful with diacritics.  Yet when we reply to list colleagues with 
surnames such as “Dürst” or “Bień”, we usually manage to get it right.  
Sure, the “reply” feature puts the surname into the response for us and 
the e-mail software adds the properly spelled names into our address 
books automatically.  But when we cite those colleagues in a post 
replying to some other list member, we typically take the time and 
trouble to write their names correctly.  Not only because we /can/, but 
because we /should/.

 > How do you envision this working?

Splendidly!  (smile)  Social platforms, plain-text editors, and other 
applications do enhance their interfaces based on user demand from time 
to time.  User demand, at least on Twitter, seems established.  As 
pointed out previously in this discussion, that demand doesn’t seem to 
result in much “Chicago style” text (although I have personally observed 
some) and may only be a passing fad /for Twitter users/.  When corporate 
interests aren't interested, third-party developers develop tools.

 > You've yet to demonstrate that interoperability is an actual problem.

Copy/pasting from a web page into a plain-text editor removes any 
italics content, which is currently expected behavior.  Opinions differ 
as to whether that represents mere format removal or a loss of meaning.  
Those who consider it as a loss of meaning would perceive a problem with 

Consider superscript/subscript digits as a similar styling issue. The 
Wikipedia page for Romanization of Chinese includes information about 
the Wade-Giles system’s tone marks, which are superscripted digits.


Copy/pasting an example from the page into plain-text results in “ma1, 
ma2, ma3, ma4”, although the web page displays the letters as italic and 
the digits as (italic) superscripts.  IMO, that’s simply wrong with 
respect to the superscript digits and suboptimal with respect to the 
italic letters.

 > To expand on what Mark E. Shoulson said, to add new italics characters,
 > you're going to need to not only copy all of Latin, but also Cyrillic ...

I quite agree that expanding atomic italic encoding is off the table at 
this point.  (And that italicized CJK ideographs are daft.)

More information about the Unicode mailing list