Spelling and Punctuation: Italic, Bold, and Capital Letters
In the previous two newsletters, we talked about punctuation marks and how to use them properly. We discussed those situations when a mark, used well, can make a big difference, but also make our lives easier and help us be more precise, concise, and clear.
In this newsletter, we are wrapping the series up with a talk on how to use italic and bold formatting options to maximize the effect of the message we are trying to put across. Also, WE ARE GOING TO SHOW YOU HOW CAPITAL LETTERS, WHEN LOCKED LIKE THIS, ARE PERCEIVED AS THE WRITER SHOUTING AT THE READERS. Oh, sorry about that.
Rule number one: AVOID USING CAPITAL LETTERS. ESPECIALLY USING THEM AND PUTTING THEM IN BOLD OR ITALIC.
There really is no need for them, especially now that there are other ways to stress when a certain word or sentence is important. You can separate that specific sentence by pressing ‘enter’, which is the most elegant option both visually and contextually — it provides a clear focus and makes the reader pause and take in the information fully.
Other ways of emphasizing important information is by selecting the Bold or Italic formatting option from the menu. Not only is this perceived as a clear solution, but it serves the same purpose as the Caps Lock button. What’s important is that the chosen part is stressed well enough to guide the reader and tell them what to pay attention to.
The strongest point against using capital letters is the common conception that it looks as if the writer is shouting — something that should be absolutely avoided and especially in formal settings (emails and other ways of correspondence). An alternative solution can be using those synonyms which provide a powerful effect or striking contrast. Not only is that a valid solution in this context, but it will additionally empower both the writer and the reader and aid the overall understanding and effect of the text.
The only thing to be careful here is not to overuse the two options, along with staying mindful about consistency in the context of choosing either bold or italic throughout the text. If we use both of them, they will have a different effect, so we might end up confusing the readers (exception being when emphasizing a part of the sentence that is whole in bold, like in this example).
On the other hand, the italic option can be used instead of quotation marks. As Jeka said — This is the best way to quote people and ditch quotation marks altogether. Could not agree more!
At the same time, we need to remember that capital letters do serve their purpose and that they should be used with care. One of the places where a specific use of capital letters is welcome is the title section. This does not pose that big of a problem since we can find online tools to capitalize titles instead of us. What’s important is to choose one writing style and stick to it.
Remember — stay consistent all throughout the text.
This brings us to the end of yet another TLS series. This one’s aim is to point out the importance of proper spelling and punctuation and to present all the alternatives there are so that we can become better writers.
Writing style is not and should not be the same as the speaking style, which simply means that we are to take care of both and improve them separately.
Until the next NewSretten,