Created By: Unknown Troper on August 17, 2009
Troped

Emphasis Spam

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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.

Examples:

  • 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • August 6, 2009
    Raven Wilder
    Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fans seem to have this trope hard wired into their DNA.
  • August 6, 2009
    sgamer82
    This troper remembers an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine, working as an editor, went overboard on the exclamation points. Though this troper isn't sure if that's this trope or Wanton Cruelty To The Common Comma.
  • August 6, 2009
    CodeMan38
    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.
  • August 6, 2009
    robotsy
    This trope overlaps with the "What Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome" trope only this time its words, not actions. Although, they do say that a picture says a 1000 words...
  • August 8, 2009
    Durazno
    Aaaand Rolling Updates begin.
  • August 8, 2009
    Ronka87
    See Bold Inflation for more of this kind of speech!
  • August 8, 2009
    Tomtitan
    I don't really see this as a problem on this Wiki. Some things really are that awesome. Though this is still tropeable.
  • August 8, 2009
    Tomtitan
    Also, not related to This Is For Emphasis Bitch.
  • August 8, 2009
    Durazno
    @ Tomtitan - You have a point. Tropers tend to do a lot of shouting, but there's usually a good reason for it. Perhaps I shouldn't describe it in such negative terms.
  • August 9, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    both Dialga and Palkia in the game Pokemon Mystery Dungeon have the habit of ALWAYS TALKING IN CAPITAL LETTERS AS IF THEY'RE SHOUTING ALL. THE. TIME!
  • August 9, 2009
    Wristmilk
    I find a lot of the usages you describe are an attempt by the typer to convey speech inflections into the text as closely as possible. I do it myself when a certain word, or phrase, that normally would be emphasised in face-to-face conversation, needs to be emphasised in textual conversation as well... just to help the reader understand, since they can't hear you. differentiating these two things may be hard, but it also may not be important.
  • August 12, 2009
    Durazno
    Good point, Wristmilk.

    Okay, so we seem to have two tropes here. Someone trying to impress you with whatever they're talking about by typing as though they were talking to you and yelling about it, and someone typing as though they want you to pay particular attention to certain things... and "certain things" turning out to be "everything," negating their emphasis.

    Lump? Split? Let it die?
  • August 12, 2009
    Pinata
    • 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.
  • August 13, 2009
    zevans
    UK tabloids do it as a matter of house style.
  • August 13, 2009
    DracMonster
  • August 13, 2009
    Dcoetzee
    Good trope. Alternate titles: Emphasize Everything (for Added Alliterative Appeal) or Overemphasis.
  • August 13, 2009
    Lee M
    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.)
  • August 13, 2009
    DracMonster
    An elfquest image would probably make a good example in the article.
  • August 14, 2009
    Durazno
    Excellent, Lee M! And I think I'll take your suggestion, Dcoetzee, but we'll leave the YKTTW's name the same for people following it.
  • August 14, 2009
    lostlibrarian
    mad magazine- words are bolded apparently at random. Might be a parody of comic books as a genre but I've never understood it, personally.
  • August 15, 2009
    ChupaCabo
    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.
  • August 17, 2009
    Durazno
    bump
  • August 17, 2009
    zevans
    Robert E. Mc Elwaine is possibly the Ur Example on the Internet, with his Usenet posts on a wide range of seemingly unrelated subjects. "UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT information is ENCOURAGED!"

  • August 17, 2009
    Lee M
    OK, here are the Elf Quest images at matching resolution; Original Elf Quest #5 page 17, August 1979:

  • August 20, 2009
    Durazno
    Bump
  • August 20, 2009
    zevans
    It's all very well bumping. Are we splitting?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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