Bold, Italic, Exclamation Point–What Works as Emphasis, What Doesn’t

This is important. This is very important! This is the MOST IMPORTANT!! of all. And the most irritating to readers.

As readers, we know we’re annoyed by bold, italic, underscored¬†words followed by multiple exclamation points; as writers and business owners, we sometimes forget that words may become emphatic without all those devices. For example, in the preceding sentence, you probably placed a stress on “without” although nothing in the sentence directed you to do that. The rhythm and sense of the sentence alone produced the stress on “without.”

When a further emphasis is required, italics or bold alone usually suffice. Of all the punctuation marks, with the possible exception of commas, exclamation points are the most overused. If you must use an exclamation point, one will do the trick.

Graphic devices, such as changes in font size or color or positioning (for example, a dropped capital), may also provide emphasis. Again, they should be used sparingly.¬† Professional graphic designers work wonders, drawing the reader’s eye to important information without creating design overload.

Keep in mind this general rule of thumb: The more devices used to emphasize text, the less power any of them have.

In the best case, writers and graphic designers work together to give you a website, brochure, newsletter and overall presence that delivers your message with just the right jolt of emphasis. TWP Marketing & Technical Communications can help you find that perfect team. Contact us today.