In short, characters speaking with unusual emphasis in normal conversation. Typefaces used in Comic Books tend to make italic type difficult to see, so letterers use bold text instead. Used occasionally, bold phrases can be statements of power. However, in the hands of a clumsy artist, it can irritate the reader and discredit the character, which is why there will be no more Self-Demonstration for the rest of the introduction. Generally a comic and webcomic 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.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- This is done in both the original and scanlations of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. This is done because those words actually have something to do with the plot.
- The page on This Very Wiki, the manga, and the anime for Tegami Bachi all emphasize Heart, because Heart Is An Awesome Power.
- The manga of Hidan no Aria uses the "dot" variant very often in the Japanese version. Usually in Kinji's inner monologues, or when a character is giving Exposition.
- Every single comic published by Archie Comics (such as Betty, Jughead, Sonic, etc) comic uses excessive bold, often on unimportant words. Also uses the convention of exclamation points instead of periods. Apparently the people of Riverdale are constantly screaming out of rhythm. Their Sonic comic has at least gotten better about it since Ian Flynn took over writing. The rest, eh...
- Every single Disney comic uses also excessive bold, random emphasizing and exclamation points as sentence finishers. Especially in Duckburg.
- Lampshaded in Garth Ennis' The Boys.
- Daredevil's and Spider-Man's foe The Rose, son of Kingpin, had a henchgirl, Delilah whose power, apparently, was to randomly speak in a different font. And throw tanks. What would happen if she met Deadpool? The Universe would explode.
- Comic book author James Robinson has a tendency to place emphasis on words that really shouldn't have it.
- In a Batman story reprinted in "Batman in the Fifties," Bats and Robin reminisced about the various Batarangs they'd used over the years, all while keeping us in suspense about what Batarang X was. This meant that the word "Batarang" appeared multiple times in nearly every panel. Every use of the word batarang in this story filled with batarangs as it discussed every batarang ever used since the invention of batarangs leading up to the introduction of a new batarang bolded every use of the word batarang until you want to kill all the writers with batarangs and never want to hear the word batarang again in your life. (If anything, that last sentence is a gross understatement of what it's like.)
- Inverted in Watchmen with Rorschach, who is only shown speaking with bold once, during the "Crimebusters" flashback in chapter 2. (And if you asked him, he'd say that wasn't Rorschach: Rorschach didn't really exist yet.) Other characters describe him as speaking in a flat monotone.
- In the old The Transformers series, whenever a character was referred to by name for the first time — particularly during Budiansky's run as the writer, when new characters were introduced — their names were bolded. This was possibly to make sure the reader knew who was who, with the slew of new characters that tended to appear every two issues or so — or Budiansky's tongue-in-cheek way of sticking it to Hasbro executives insisting the newest toys got the spotlight.
- An issue of Spider-Man had a scene lampshading this. Doctor Doom was being escorted through an airport by two American security agents, one of whom was Captain America in disguise. Dr. Doom threatens the two agents and refers to himself in the third person, with DOCTOR DOOM stylized. Cap asks, "How do you do that... talk in all capitals like that?"
- In comments in this interview, Ryan North places the blame for this partly on comics' insistence on putting all dialog and text in ALL CAPS.
- Intentionally avoided in Strangers in Paradise, since Terry Moore felt it was unnecessary when writing for an adult audience.
- Characters in Adam Warren's comics — especially in Empowered — often use huge, bold, underlined capital letters for emphasis.
- One Alien vs. Predator graphic novel began with a scene where some scientists were examining the body of a dead Alien:
Scientist #1: "This creatures has an armoured exoskeleton and acidic blood.Scientist #2: "What sort of predator could this have evolved as a defence against?"
- Comics writer Geoff Johns (The Flash, Justice Society of America, Green Lantern) has a tendency to place the emphasis on words at odd places in a sentence for no apparent reason. It's not that bad, but it does make one scratch their head from time to time. The same goes for Frank Miller.
- Marvel's Thor and Throg (Frog-Thor) speak in a different text, due to them being Gods. Interestingly, Ares doesn't.
- While Marvel's Ultimate X-Men is no worse of an offender than any other comic, it features at least one scene of Professor Xavier sending an email liberally sprinkled with italicized words, making him sound like a crazy person on the Internet. As well as literally fully capitalising some words. In a widely published essay. And he wonders why people still think he's insane...
- A signature of Jack Kirby's writing, especially during The '70s, and especially in the Fourth World saga. Unlike many examples on this page, The King's choice of emphasis usually does reflect a fairly natural (if overly urgent) speech cadence.
- Averted in most French-Belgian comics, which mainly use bold writing for loud speaking, strong emphasis, and when it really alters the meaning of a sentence. As such, American-style bold inflation is often seen as an example of Viewers Are Morons. Use of exclamation marks and ellipsis is widespread, though.
- Jacques Tardi bolds every proper name in his dialogue.
- The Dirty Pair comics by Adam Warren and (occasionally) Toren Smith are drawn in a manga-influenced style, but the text has more American-style bold inflation than is usual for English translations of manga.
- Chick Tracts do this a lot, too.
- Bill Willingham's Ironwood has a bit of a problem with this, too. Perhaps he thought the presence of boobs would distract from the irregular cadences.
- Warrior, the only comic with Destrucity. Would you expect anything less from the Ultimate Warrior?
- Commonly used in fanfic by beginning writers, to unnecessarily stress words as part of directly transcribing their thoughts into text. It's generally considered good practice to use such things sparingly.
- Those Lacking Spines, a parody of Kingdom Hearts fanfic:
He was so badass his font was bolded."And now you shall learn, and you shall fear, and you shall learn to fear the wrath... of Jeffiroth!" he cackled maniacally.'
- Twilight Revised uses this to illustrate Twilight's unhealthy attachment to "Celestia". Twilight especially puts a lot of emphasis on Her. The exact Amount depends on her mental state.
- The Pez Dispenser And The Reign Of Terror has a bit of a problem with this.
- In Hope On A Distant Mountain, if a line is bolded, that indicates it's the speaker's equivalent to Naegi's Catch Phrase from the trials: "You've got that wrong!"
- 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."
- Similarly, in Discworld, multiple exclamation points are a sure sign of a diseased mind.
- 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.
- 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!
- Naturally, above-the-fold headlines are usually emboldened in order to indicate their importance (and to get people to buy the paper). However, there's a longstanding print tradition for the trope to be literally inverted (white text on a black background) for issues of extreme urgency or tragedy.
- 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.
- The G-Man from the Half-Life series speaks like this, emphasizing his otherworldly nature.
- Resident Evil had it quite clearly. Especially Barry Burton.
- Originally, POKéMONnote games wrote the names of every proper noun in all caps. In other words, you play as a PO Ké MON TRAINER in the KANTO, JOHTO or HOENN region on a quest to get every BADGE from every GYM LEADER and eventually take on the ELITE FOUR, having to go through the likes of TEAM ROCKET, TEAM AQUA, or TEAM MAGMA on the way. Diamond and Pearl ended this practice, but their generation still capitalized the names of individual Pokémon due to backward compatibility with the Game Boy Advance games, which use the old method of capitalization (for example, Diamond and Pearl would still say PIKACHU instead of Pikachu, but would say Town Map instead of TOWN MAP). Black and White did away with this as well, meaning no more ALL CAPS at all (for example, a pre-release screenshot of the starter selection refers to the fire starter as Tepig instead of TEPIG, and battle screenshots are similarly capitalized).
- However, getting a Pokemon from one of your old games via the Pokemon Transfer Lab will still feature its name in bold. (For example, your Pikachu will still be PIKACHU.) However, if it can still evolve, its name will not be in all caps. (PIKACHU evolved into Raichu)
- The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon have the main player name in blue, the team members' names in yellow and the other NPCs in light blue.
- In Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal, the entire game is written in all caps. This makes the nonsensical, Translation Train Wreck dialogue of the game that much funnier.
- The Super Mario Bros. series is a repeat offender, most apparent in the Paper Mario games.
- The GBA port of Donkey Kong Country spells King K. Rool's name as "K.ROOL" for no reason at all.
- In Donkey Kong 64, whenever Funky Kong says K. Rool's name, it is rendered in shaky text.
- Brave Fencer Musashi went one worse and put words in red on a seemingly random basis.
- Also done in Ōkami, and is just as annoying due to Issun wanting to explain everything.
- Disgaea's Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth! who manages to constantly talk in bold font and emphasize whatever he says in a ridiculously epic manner akin to Captain Kirk on Crack! As such, fans see it as customary to write his name only in bold font and with the gratuitous use of exclamation points! This is particularly obnoxious because no such thing appears in the game, which just uses voice tracks.
- How else can you possibly convey the speech patterns of CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH! in text?
- Zelda games from the N64 onwards are very bad for this. Dialogue about certain items or characters are put in green or blue or even red!
- Words appear in all the colors of the rainbow in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Especially when referring to the Sages/Temples. Light- Forest- Fire- Water- Spirit- Shadow. Yes, Shadow is written in pink. Purple is usually reserved for other things, as is orange.
- This gets unintentionally hilarious in the ending of Ocarina of Time, when Ganondorf screams at you in ALL CAPS. Because you can rename Link to anything you want, it doesn't affect your protagonist's name at all. Thus, it all comes off like a Hong Kong Dub in a dramatic moment. "CURSE YOU, ZELDA! CURSE YOU, SAGES! CURSE YOU, Link!"
- Kingdom of Loathing does this to give you hints on one late-game puzzle. You have to insert a series of keys to progress, and if you put in the wrong sequence, you get the message "perhaps if you concentrate a little harder, you'll figure it out." Sure enough said sequence is the Konami Code.
- Beneath a Steel Sky does this ALL the way through the GAME with every line of DIALOGUE being LITTERED with words in CAPITAL letters. It's really ANNOYING.
- In Tyrian, the datacubes and ship descriptions are often sprinkled with bolded text. Names and values are almost always bolded, but sometimes, it is done for emphasis. For instance: The Gencore Maelstrom is a refined Phoenix with an additional 2cm of main hull. It also features deluxe plush seating with extra-wide armrests and synth-velour lining.note
- Final Fantasy VIII tends to emphasize certain [keywords] due to their plot importance rather than context within the sentence.
- Meta example: titles of Final Fantasy games are always written in all caps in official sources. This results in bold inflation whenever the franchise or a specific game is referred to in descriptions.
- Arcturus Mengsk in StarCraft and StarCraft II. Though it doesn't show up in subtitles, you can hear it in every other word he says.
- And in StarCraft II, there is MAAR, who TALKS like THIS ALL the DAMN TIME.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies , Florent L'Belle constantly talks like this, though the emphasis is shown via capitalization rather than bolding. The series at large does have bolding in the form of Rainbow Speak, though.
- In Old World Blues, the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, Dr. Borous has this as a Verbal Tic, which serves to make him an even bigger ham than he already is. If questioned about this, his response is:
"DRAMA? There is no DRAMA in Science! As I learned in High School, Science! is an intellectual pursuit DEVOID of bestial emotions!"
- Team Fortress 2 has MONOCULUS!
- Lampshaded in Borderlands 2, where one of the loading screen messages notes that TORGUE guns not only fire EXPLOSIVE rounds, but are LOUD and require EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS.
- Dawn of War: Soulstorm gives us the now-legendary Blood Ravens Brother-Captain Indrick Boreale's speech to his forces in the Lands of Solitude (know by some as Indreck Boldreale):
There is no time to be lost. BATTLE BROTHERS!
SPESS MEHREENS! Today the enemy is at our door! We know our duty and we will do it! We fight for our honor, as Blood Ravens, as SPESS MEHREENS, and we fight in the name of the Emperor! And if we die this day, we die in glory. We die hero's deaths! But we shall not die, no, it is the enemy who will taste death and defeat! As You Know, most of our battle-brothers are stationed in spess, prepared to Deep Strike! Our perimeter has been prepared- in the event that our enemy should be so bold and so foolish! We have placed numerous beacons, allowing for multiple, simultaneous, and- devastating defensive Deep Strikes.
... The Codex Astartes names this maneuver Steel Rain. We will descend upon the foe, we will overwhelm them, we will leave none alive! Meanwhile, our ground forces will ensure the full defense of our headquarters.
We are the SPESS MEHREENS! We are the Emperor's Fureh!
- 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:
- A Mech by Any Other Name
- Fun with Acronyms
- Lousy Alternate Titles
- Bold Inflation
- Most trope pages with a "Don't do this" disclaimer at the end of the intro - this tends to show up on subjective tropes, or tropes that shouldn't have Real Life examples.
- This also tends to show up on pages with unmarked spoilers, to warn readers of just that.
- Any time we mention BRIAN BLESSED or Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth!.
- HULK TALK LOUD ON HIS PAGE!!!!!! LOTS OF BIG LETTERS AND SHOUTING!!!!!!! GRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
- Perhaps most inexplicably, tropes themselves will be bolded sometimes, as if that means it applies harder for some reason.
- 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.
- Incredibly long-winded essayist Bill Whittle actually makes this one work.
- The explanatory signs in the Roman Gardens at Chester increase the size of the text for words that might be considered important. When this happens on every line it tends to distract from the flow of the text.
- Political fundraising letters use and abuse this shamelessly, but with underlines (but there's no wiki markup code for that, so we used bold instead). It's almost a running gag among political professionals - the more a fundraising letter looks like an overwritten piece of crap that wouldn't get by a third-grade teacher, the more money it brings in. This is because supporters don't read the letter, they just give you hundreds or thousands of dollars based on skimming it.
- Francis E. Dec used this multiple times, although it was underline inflation, as his rants are written on a typewriter.
- Despite what software license writers might think, writing an entire paragraph in ALL CAPS makes it harder to read and more likely just to be skimmed over, defeating the entire point of putting it in ALL CAPS in the first place. This makes sense for those written under the assumption that they won't actually be read, but there's no excuse otherwise.
- A Multiple Choice Form Letter sent to BRIAN BLESSED used this in the negative responses.
I am (pleased/sorry/too busy) to tell you that your request (has been accepted/has been declined/is utterly ridiculous, NOW BEGONE).
- Some people on forums have gotten into the habit of marking up each individual word (including underline and strikeout) in their signature quotes in an attempt to make their quotes look special.
- A common SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactic is to highlight every single use of certain keywords so that your site is bumped up in searches for said keywords. When overused, it can give the feel of this trope.