In short, characters
speaking with unusual
emphasis in normal conversation
used in Comic Books
tend to make italic type difficult
, so letterers
. Used occasionally, bold phrases
can be statements of power
, in the hands of a clumsy artist
, it can irritate
, which is why there will be no more Self-Demonstration for the rest of the introduction
Generally a comic
trope because of its print nature, though in some cases this literary atrocity has been inflicted upon the world in film
and video game form. It generally looks somewhat less silly in comics than in plain text, although this may just be because readers are more used to seeing it there. So much so, some readers just ignore
it entirely. It also shows up better than italics when using cheap, low-quality printing techniques on cheap, low-quality paper.
It should be noted that this is not always the writer's fault when this happens. Oftentimes, especially in comic books, the editor will indicate to the letterer that he wants certain random words bolded, on the assumption that a reader will become bored by plain black text without any change to spice it up
. Fortunately, this practice is becoming a Discredited Trope
An equivalent in manga is to place dots next to the characters to emphasize a specific part of the line (like this あ・
), although this is far less common than bold text in comic books.
Relatedly, the practice of using exclamation points instead of periods to end sentences, because the little dot may be considered hard to see in some printings of newspaper strips and comic books, also creates an effect of excessive emphasis for people who aren't used to it.
May be a subtrope of Painting the Medium
. Inversion of Creepy Monotone
. See also Blue Text
for a related phenomenon on This Very Wiki
See Rainbow Speak
where the intent is merely to inform the player of a key item
or topic for further discussion
See also Emphasize EVERYTHING
. Accent On The Wrong Syllable
is a very similar but distinct trope that mostly applies to spoken dialogue.
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Anime and Manga
- Edward D'Eath spoke like this to himself (with italics in place of bold) in the Discworld novel Men at Arms. This was to signify that he was an absolute nutter. "He could think in italics. Such people need watching. Preferably from a safe distance."
- The book series Fearless puts what the writer (or other member of the Powers That Be) thinks is the most badass sentence on each page larger and in a different typeface than the rest, instantly transforming it into Narm.
- Dorothy L Sayers uses this (with italics) in several of her books to show the annoying speech patterns of certain characters. Miss Katharine Climpson, the harmless-seeming spinster turned enquiry agent in the Lord Peter Wimsey series of detective novels, often speaks in italics, conveying her gossipy nature. She does it in her own writing, too. This is meant to indicate her old-fashioned, Victorian outlook; overuse of underlining is often mentioned as a characteristic of Victorian women's writing, especially in letters. Characters in the Anne of Green Gables series often do it too.
- One word: Superdictionary.
- In American Psycho Patrick Bateman tends to emphasise unusual words in his sentences. It's not exactly the same trope, but still tends to fit the spirit of the thing.
- Angie Sage, author of the Septimus Heap series, tends to bold all Magykal words. Some people find it annoying and/or condescending.
- John Hodgman's Complete World Knowledge books lampoon the use of this trope in their titles.
- The conversational style of The Catcher in the Rye involves a lot of italics.
- Katherine Mansfield was another author who used this as a characterization technique. In the short story "Bliss," the character who emphasizes every other word is being a pretentious drama queen.
- In Animal Farm, when Napoleon rhetorically asks who is responsible for the destruction of the windmill, he gives the answer "SNOWBALL!"
- Some printings of The Bible, particularly the King James Version, use italics to denote words added by the translators that were not present in the original Greek or Hebrew (usually added to better follow English grammar and thus make it more readable). Some media use [brackets] instead. This results in the odd effect of having minor articles and prepositions "emphasized" while the key words of the text are plain.
- In novels of Warhammer40000 nearly all Space Marine Dreadnoughts are depicted as speaking in this manner. Example: Bjorn the Fell-Handed
Live Action TV
- Captain James... T... Kirk!
- Top Gear. Jeremy Clarkson's speech is the best example of this... in the world.
- Putting unusual emphasis on random words? Could there be a better description of Chandler's signature mode of speech on Friends?
- How I Met Your Mother's Barney Stinson. His use of this is Legen waitforit DARY. LEGENDARY.
- Boot, the precursor to Maximum PC, had one of the Letters to the Editor complain about this. It contained semi-boldfaced words, and stated that the writer read the FIRST and LAST issue because they BOLDFACE every third WORD. The editor's reply was that you CAN'T win them ALL.
- MAD has does this constantly ever since its days as a comic book. Authors especially like emboldening nouns and adjectives! Gratuitous Yiddish expressions will always be bold as well, schmuck!
- The Sun and similar disreputable British Newspapers ABUSE this trope CONSTANTLY so that their READERS can pick out the IMPORTANT words.
- Russell Brand, when dissecting an unflattering Sun article about him in his stand-up routine, drew the audience's attention to this trope. Some time afterwards, the Sun had another article about him, in which they seemingly lampshaded it, emboldening words such as WAS and HAD.
- PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak randomly scatters bolding throughout his technology columns.
- Brenda Starr is a major offender.
- Buckles is an example of both this and overuse of exclamation points!
- In a variation, in his later years on Mandrake The Magician, Lee Falk (who wrote the strip into his 90's!) had... a great... fondness... for ellipses... And also! Sentence fragments! But Mandrake was always awesome anyway. The strip's current writer doesn't seem to have these quirks.
- Mark Trail features this almost like a full character, alongside its beautifully drawn animal pictures! Also there's something about humans punching humans in there somewhere. I dunno the details.
- Pearls Before Swine once accused Soap Operas of an oral version of this, imitated in-comic by bolding every third word. "We can do that!
- Kevin Siembieda, creator of Rifts, has a deep and abiding love for unnecessary amounts of italics in any Sourcebook that he writes.
- Most of the old Traveller RPG material insists on putting the name of the game system in bold. While it looks okay in small doses, it can look a little awful when you have to list all of the Traveller systems, like Classic Traveller, Mega Traveller, Traveller: The New Era. Similarly GURPS (that's right: bold, italic and all caps). It frequently ends up looking silly given that the system has an enormous volume of splatbooks and the writers load them with references to one another.
- Dominic Deegan falls into this all too often. The words in bold tend to be the usual puns, and while their emphasis would be weird in normal conversation, it serves to highlight those puns to the more moronic listeners (and the more moronic readers).
- Though most of the time, the bolded words are completely random, and may just be due to Mookie writing the text by hand, causing people to be emphasizing words in their speech for no reason.
- Spoofed in Sluggy Freelance: When a mission was announced, the wrong parts of the mission were emphasized (specifically, the part where it was noted that Anyone Can Die). The speaker immediately berated the sound technician for putting reverb on the wrong part of the statement, to which he replied "Oh, my bad!"
- Played for Laughs in Narbonic with ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST, who also only speaks his name in ALL CAPS.
- Tycho from Penny Arcade, who feels the need to use italics every second sentence.
- Talk out the strip, though, and the bold/italicized text works with the emphasis. It's not random, like most of the examples above.
- Dandy and Company used to suffer from this, perhaps due to the cartoonist's comic book influence.
- T Campbell of Penny and Aggie has a nasty habit of bolding all the time, and often in the least intuitive places.
- Another weird textual habit of T's (and he has many — note that there's no period after his first "name") is that he'll often italicize only the particular syllable being stressed. This shows up most often in Fans!.
- In a variation, The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! uses underlines for emphasis, instead of boldface or italics.
- How I Killed Your Master uses this for emphasised words.
- Taking after video game inspirations, in MS PAINT ADVENTURES, during the INTRODUCTION OF A NEW CHARACTER a number of IMPORTANT KEYWORDS, including their NAME, will be ENTIRELY CAPITALIZED. This does not happen during normal narration, save for certain game jargon such as the STRIFE SPECIBUS. On rare occasion simply used for emphasis of a phrase.
- On a related note, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff also does this. Of course, considering the nature of the comic in question, more often than not the inflated words aren't the ones which would be sensible to emphasise, and even the physical form of the emphasis is inconsistent - sometimes it's boldface, sometimes it's enlarged text, sometimes it's text enlarged even further, and sometimes it's colored.
- Waterworks: Nearly every single noun is bolded, perhaps as a nod to video games. This is only in the original forum thread version. The mirror eschews all this boldage.
- Repeatedly Used On This Very Wiki, especially when I Am Not Making This Up is invoked. Articles that use Bold Inflation:
- More websites than you can possibly imagine. The tendency of people to do this was parodied, along with many other things, at the Real Ultimate Power page.
- The Time Cube website abuses bold, italic and underline inflation shamelessly. The site itself has become something of an Internet joke, and has been parodied here and here by Uncyclopedia.
- Jackie Harvey, fake columnist for The Onion, parodies this trope as it applies to gossip rags.
- As the EM part of PBEM stands for "e-mail", the action in the campaigns in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe was always produced in text. This trope thus occurred on a more-than-regular basis.
- foolquest. Bold, italic, underline, colored text, hyperlinks, highlightings, text boxes, giant words.
- The ad copy for SCP-1657:
Need more punch to your breakfast? Grocery store eggs not working for you? Wish you could have a goddamn masculine omelet for once in your goddamn miserable life? Then buy the MAN EGG. MAN EGG will make you MANLY.
- Squirrel Boy: Rodney says his cousin is "Good at pretending to be something [he's] not". When his cousin notices the bold inflation, Rodney says he doesn't have any control over it.
- In The Weird Al Show Fatman segments, the narrator does an audio version of this trope with various words being shouted.