Emphasis Spam YKTTW Discussion

Emphasis Spam
(permanent link) added: 2009-08-17 07:57:26 sponsor: Unknown Troper @ (last reply: 2009-08-20 16:23:35)

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Possible alternative name: Emphasize EVERYTHING. Rolling Updates in effect.

A Sub-Trope of Bad Writing, possibly worth splitting from Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma. Sometimes it's fun, though.

You might find it hard to believe, but some writers actually use way too much emphasis in their descriptions! Using punctuation, formatting and endless superlatives, they exhaust you by endlessly insisting THAT EVERYTHING THEY TELL YOU IS TOTALLY EPIC!!

You'll see a lot of shouting on this very wiki, but since the question of whether or not it qualifies as Emphasis Spam is purely subjective, what can you do? NOTHING!!

Remember this: when everything is emphasized nothing is emphasized. I'm sorry.

Related to Bold Inflation, but only overlaps with This Is for Emphasis, Bitch! when "bitch" comes every other sentence. It can also crop up when the character (or writer)is particularly Hot-Blooded, invested or offended.


  • As mentioned, many descriptions on the TV Tropes wiki itself.
    • Our late, lamented I Am Not Making This Up section was an epic Emphasis Spam, not only in grammatical terms but by its very existence. It was a place that everyone could go to underscore how amazing/bizarre/hilarious events from entertainment could be, and, well, everything ended up underscored.
    • Any sufficiently enthusiastic fandom will throw down Emphasis Spam here or there, especially when the work in question involves a lot of yelling. The italics seem to come out for particularly brutal or extreme actions, though things that might be intense in one fandom won't even register in another.
  • Often crops up in Fan Fiction of course, but what aspect of Bad Writing doesn't?
  • Magazine covers are covered with bold, allegedly attention-grabbing exclamations, but on the rack, they're lost in a sea of punctuation marks and multicolored 30-point font.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Elaine, working as an editor, goes overboard on the exclamation points. This overlaps with Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma.
  • The book Antigua: The Land of Fairies Wizards and Heroes, mentioned on So Bad It's Good, falls into that category largely because of this. In the pages on the Amazon preview, every other sentence or so ends in an exclamation point.
  • There are a lot of italics in the novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Possibly justified, since the book's main character, Anakin Skywalker, is a notorious drama queen.
  • Zigzagging Trope with Stephen King... sometimes he uses way too many italics, sometimes not so much.
  • This! Is! SPARTA! was mentioned above. It occurs to me that pretty much everything listed under World of Ham probably overlaps with this trope to at least some extent. Particularly 300.
  • A lot of words you wouldn't expect to be italicized are anyway in the comic-book version of Watchmen.
  • The original dead tree edition of Elf Quest #5 suffered a lot from overuse of bold text and double exclamation points!! Fan complaints led to it being toned down in all subsequent editions. (If I get a chance I'll scan a representative panel so it can be compared with the online edition.)
  • In Mad Magazine, words are bolded apparently at random. Might be a parody of comic books as a genre.
  • Many religious tracts and hate literature, especially those published by extreme fundamentalists or conspiracy nuts. See Jack Chick for links to some of the tamer examples.
  • Almost everything on the History Channel, or any scientific documentary. Ominous music, tragic tales of the man who was never listened to, and of course, the ever-present deep-voiced narrator.

Needs Wiki Magic badly. I commend this trope's soul to the Hive Mind.
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