Possessive case names: to italicize or not italicize the apostrophe-s?

Legal writing involves rules large and small. Let’s consider a small one.

Suppose you’re writing a brief involving Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Eventually you want to discuss the case’s holding.

Is it Miranda’s holding?

Or is it Miranda’s holding?

In other words, when we write the possessive form of a case name, do we italicize the apostrophe-s?

Yes, my friends, we often do, but we should not. Indeed, the rule is that when any italicized word or phrase is made possessive by adding apostrophe-s, the apostrophe-s is not italicized. For example, it is correct to write “Gone With the Wind’s publication date is 1936” rather than “Gone With the Wind’s publication date is 1936.”

A small detail? Sure. But that type of attention to detail shows the court you pay attention to details.

3 Comments

Filed under Exemplary Writing, Punctuation, Style

3 responses to “Possessive case names: to italicize or not italicize the apostrophe-s?

  1. Hannah Benoit

    You are correct, in reference to titles of court cases, books, and so on. The ‘s would not be italicized. But with regular prose, the italics conform to the word: I don’t like Bill’s cake, but I love Miranda’s. (Imagine that “Miranda’s” is italicized, since this interface won’t allow me to add formatting.) The ‘s would be in italic.

  2. Hannah Benoit

    … in italics. Sorry.

  3. The Scribe

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Where italics are used for emphasis, it makes sense to italicize the apostrope-s. But where the italics are used for another reason, such as to indicate the title of a book, then the apostrope-s would not be in italics. The Chicago Manual of Style, section 7.30 (15th ed.) prescribes that approach.

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