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Bold, italics, and underline 
23rd-Apr-2008 09:41 am
((I'll think of something starting with O for next week))

We of the Microsoft Word generation are used to being able to bold, italicise and underline our text at the touch of a button**. But are we using our new abilities for good or for evil?

I was reading a friend's travel blog and thinking how much easier it would be to read if he hadn't kept bolding random phrases and sentence fragments. It only made sense if I tried to imagine him reading the blog aloud, because he just bolded every part that he'd naturally emphasise while speaking.

According to standard usage, italics are properly used for references and for phrases in foreign languages. They can also be used to emphasise words or phrases. Boldface is used for captions on pictures or graphs, and for titles/subtitles. You don't normally find a lot of boldface text in fiction.

Of course, this isn't to say that they aren't tools available to writers if you want or need them! There is a convention in scifi/fantasy to use italics to represent telepathy or someone's thoughts.

How do you use bold, italics, and underline in your writing?

** to be fair, it isn't that hard to bold or italicise text on a typewriter either
23rd-Apr-2008 01:22 pm (UTC)
I don't remember any recent time when I needed to use bold, italics or underline, and actually I never used bold and underline at all. I don't think that my poems would have any benefit from such text decoration.
23rd-Apr-2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
The proper format for manuscripts is to only underline text that is supposed to be different from the rest of the text. For example, someone's thoughts which will probably be italicised or put into a different font once it's published.
I underline the text where it's the character's real time thoughts. It's written in first person POV so in a lot of ways anything that isn't dialouge is her thoughts. But there are parts where I wanted the reader to realize that it's what's she's thinking in the moment as opposed to just her telling the story. Not sure if that makes any sense but I just got home from work about 20 minutes ago so my brain is slightly fried. I've also debated on underlining the journal entries but I'm sure if I should. I'm hoping that it's obvious enough that they are journal entries as opposed to real time action.
26th-Apr-2008 05:49 am (UTC)
^^ i think that's going the way of the typewriter, tho'... the underline thing, that is.

as far as the thoughts thing... more and more publishers are accepting italics for thoughts. i still can't shake the feeling that it's so very fanficcy when i read it.

i still use tags, tho, even if the thoughts are immediately after real dialogue. also, some publishers that prefer thought tags also prefer no "" with them. I find that a bit difficult to read myself.

we've had publishers show up for workshops at my uni, and each one had different preferences for thoughts.

i've always been told to ask... but that still sucks. if you send your novel to three different publishers with three different preferences for dialogue and/or thoughts, it's a bit much to go and change your story three different times.


publishers can be so picky.


But there are parts where I wanted the reader to realize that it's what's she's thinking in the moment as opposed to just her telling the story. Not sure if that makes any sense but I just got home from work about 20 minutes ago so my brain is slightly fried.

i feel you here... my current story deals with telepathy. so i'm with you on this. i think i've lost more hair worrying about it.

(Deleted comment)
23rd-Apr-2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
Been awhile since I used one but I'm sure I remember one at my dad's work which had an italic key you could press while you typed, it was quite a top of the line model though ;)
23rd-Apr-2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure you're right, from what I remember, at least.
26th-Apr-2008 05:52 am (UTC)
well, back back BACK, you couldn't. like the previous commenter mentioned, you underlined any text that was to be printed different.

sometimes, a publisher would want you to surround text in * * to denote emphasis or something.

but now that few are actually typing on 1970s typewriters...
23rd-Apr-2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
I use italics for emphasis in dialogue, but rarely.

I underline if I'm writing by hand and want to emphasize something. I bold headings, but I haven't done this in fiction yet. If I wanted to introduce an essay that a character was writing then I might bold the title.
26th-Apr-2008 06:00 am (UTC)
I don't use italics to emphasize things that much. Well, my current story deals with telepathy, so I have to make a distinction between transmitted/read thoughts and actual dialogue-thoughts (using italics for one; actual dialogue tags for the other).

so having italics for emphasis on that story can be confusing.

if someone emphasizes a word, i make sure it's for a reason -- one worth noting -- so that i can actually use an interrupter of some sort; like:

"It's not a question of if"—he emphasized that last word, speaking in a cruel mimic of her voice—"because you will do it. And you'll do it now."

But whereas I don't use italics a lot, I certainly am guilty of Interrupter-Overuse.

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