In WordStar you need to block mark an area of italic text by typing ^PY at either end of the text. This could have been done, but would have added unnecessary complications and screen updates. The WordStar Command Emulator works in a subtly different way, as follows:
To italicise a single word, place the cursor within the word and type ^PY. You can also use F8 to mark the start of a larger area, navigate to the end, and type ^PY to italicise the whole block. This is a cross between WordStar and Word methods of working. If you change your mind, press ESC to unmark the block.
To toggle italics on/off as you type, type ^PY then the text you want in italics, then ^PY to continue in normal text.
^PI has also been assigned to do the same as ^PY.
The same applies to ^PB (bold), and ^PS (underscore).