You are here:

General Writing and Grammar Help/Italicized phone conversations...


Hi Mr Johnson,

My novel is in third person and my writing style tends to be at times omnipresent: I dip in and out of various characters POV's in a scene so the reader gets a clearer view of what is going on and what other characters are thinking.
In one scene there's a phone conversation between two men and it starts with the first man Thorpe speaking, then continues with 'John on the other end says,' so would that mean that John's dialogue is in italics? The reason I'm asking is because I then write about John interacting with his wife while on the phone to Thorpe, so the scene goes from Thorpe's room, to John's.
I have other conversations on the phone where I have italicized the person not present in the room but in this particular scene it goes back and forth from room to room, kind of like a movie scene. So should I italicize John's dialogue, or keep both sets of dialogue normal?  

Thanks for your time.


Hello Louise

1. You mean third person OMNISCIENT mode

2. Don't use italics for anything except emphasizing the occasional single word

3. It should be obvious to readers who is speaking - from the context and the content of what they are saying.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Roy Johnson


I can answer questions on English language, grammar, writing skills, and study skills. I am particularly experienced in the writing skills required for academic essays, term papers, reports, dissertations, and post-graduate theses.


I have forty years experience as a tutor and as the author of books on writing and study skills. For thirty years I was a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association, which specialises in courses for adult students and preparing mature students for university. I was also a tutor for the Open University between 1975 and 2010. During that time I have also written a number of books on writing and study skills. In the last ten years or more I have specialised in creating computer-aided learning materials and online learning courses.

"Making the Grade" (Manchester University Press) 1990 "Studying Fiction" (Manchester University Press) 1991 "Marking Essays" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Revision and Examinations" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Writing Essays" (Clifton Ress) 1996 "Study Skills" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Electronic Writing" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Improve your Writing Skills" (Clifton Press) 2010 "Writing Essays 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "English Language 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "Study Skills 2.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program]

My first degree was in mechanical engineering (HNC). I then switched to literary studies and philosophy. My second degree was a BA in English and American Literature (from Manchester University - UK). I also have an MA in Comparative Literary Studies, and my doctoral thesis (PhD) was in the relationship between literature and politics.

Past/Present Clients
Amber TV Anglia Polytechnic University Bath Spa University College The Beattie Partnership Blackpool & the Fylde College Bolton, Salford, & Trafford NHS Cedar Health Central Manchester Health Trust City College Manchester Coventry University David Rigby Associates East Lancs NHS Food Standards Agency Graduate Research Institute Granada Studios Higher Education Funding Council Hyde Clarendon College Kellogg’s UK Kingsmill Health Trust Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Liverpool University Manchester Airport Manchester City Council Manchester Metropolitan University MANCAT Manchester PCT (NHS) Manchester TEC North East Lancs PCT NorthWest Learning Grid Oldham Business School Open University Parrs Wood College Runshaw College Salford Mental Health Trust Save the Children Fund South Manchester Health Trust St John Rigby College St Mary’s Catholic High School SwimTime University of Bolton University of Central Lancs University College Chester University of Huddersfield University of Hull University of Manchester University of Salford West London Health Trust Winstanley College Manchester NHS Xaverian College

©2017 All rights reserved.