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's overdone is purely subjective, what can you do? NOTHING!!
Overemphasis comes in many forms. The writer may be typing as though they were talking to you, and attempting to convey their excitement by yelling! They might be using text-only formatting tricks like setting boxes aside, underlining, and using different colors. Perhaps they insist on using intense words like "incredible" and "despicable" when there's not much reason to. In any case, the effect is the same: you're left without a way to gauge how amazing or important things "really" are.
Remember this: when everything is emphasized, nothing is!
Related to Bold Inflation and 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 enthusiastic, invested or offended. This can result in any one of the What Do You Mean, It's Not an Index? tropes. When similar overemphasis is used in acting, the result is an enormous, ebullient Large Ham!! See also Punctuated! For! Emphasis!! for constrained emphasis. Sarcasm Mode is used in print media for similar reasons.
- Mainstream comic books tend to do this with bold text. It's actually very strange and no one seems to know why it happens. Possibly, it's intended to highlight the key (i.e., plot-relevant) words in the character's speech, and has nothing to do with how the characters are talking. That way the readers, if they want to get to the guys in colored tights beating on each other, can skim more easily. That doesn't make it any less weird for someone who isn't used to reading comics. Linkara loves to point out this, as reading speech balloons aloud (sometimes, as dramatically as possible) is obligatory for his reviews.
Often (though not always) the emphasized words are those that one would expect to be stressed slightly more in natural-sounding speech: "His power ... I've never seen anything like it!" Using bold text does come across as a bit overly dramatic and italic would probably be better, but a lot of letterers produce "normal" text that's already slanted significantly from the vertical so that italic doesn't stand out as much.
- A lot of words you wouldn't expect to be italicized are anyway in Watchmen. Averted with Rorschach who speaks with no italics or bold. His voice is described by other characters though as being a creepy, gravely monotone.
- This happens a lot in Jonathan Hickman's X-Men books for some reason, with both italics and bolding, even when no emphasis would be expected.
- The original dead tree edition of ElfQuest #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.
- Attention true believers! Emphasis is a signature element in the writing of Stan Lee!
- Much seen in old Superman comics, where every mention of Superman or any of his super-powers is given super-emphasis.
- Frank Miller already used plenty of emphasis even when he was at the top of his game, and once he sank into his self-parody phase, it got even worse.
- It makes a certain kind of sense for Shazam, seeing as the very title is an exclamation.
- Jack Chick tends to have a problem with this, which just adds to how incredibly anvilicious his tracts are.
- In one tract (his Yet Another Christmas Carol), the Voice of God speaks, but the previous pages contained so much Emphasize Everything that it actually detracts from how impressive God's voice seems. Probably not the effect he was going for.
- Donald Duck comic books have a tendency to not contain a single speech bubble without at least one exclamation mark. Yes, even whispering ends with "!" Which makes it jarring when the rare dotted sentence shows up.
- Secret Wars (1984) is particularly noted for this. It's a 12-issue series, and there are fewer than fifteen sentences that end with a period in the whole thing. (We're not counting ellipses...)
- Parodied in Rat Man with a one-panel joke: one of Rat-Man's old enemies was a guy named "Exclamation Man" whose symbol was a giant "!" and who put an exclamation mark after literally every single word of his speeches.
- It was a convention in some comic strips to use exclamation points at the end of every sentence. This tradition reportedly began because with the older, fairly coarse four-color printing process, it was easy for a tiny dot like a period to be lost, but some of an exclamation point would survive! (Letters would also sometimes be joined by stray ink: writers were advised not to use the verb "flick" or name a character "Clint", lest the l and i run together and produce a serious violation of The Comics Code!) Serials such as Mary Worth, Apartment 3-G, Rex Morgan, M.D. and Mark Trail are known for this, as well as Archie comics and many others.
- This was parodied in Pearls Before Swine making fun of soap strips, complete every third word being bolded.
- In MAD, words are bolded apparently at random. Might be a parody of comic books as a genre.
- Forward uses it deliberately, depicting resident Cloud Cuckoolander River's thoughts with "Riverthink", consisting of randomly-placed italics, bold, underlining, and sudden switches to centered or right-aligned text.
- Love In The Dark Many words are put in italics for emphasis.
- How the Light Gets In: While the story itself isn't really an example, it does come up in one conversation.
Sara: Laurel! What the fuck? You did cocaine with Max Fuller?
- One can grow weary of The Lord of the Rings trilogy's habit of using a constant mix of slow-motion, CGI, sweeping pans, and a thunderous soundtrack to make everything seem epic. Notoriously led to Ending Fatigue at the end of the third film.
- This seems to be a habit of Peter Jackson's. Was the strobe effect really necessary in King Kong (2005)?
- In the 1997 informative video The Kids Guide to the Internet Peter signs off on an e-mail with "Peter!!!!"
- 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. More recent printings have been edited to use more sensible punctuation, but in the Amazon preview for the original version, every other sentence or so ended in an exclamation point.
- There are a lot of italics in the novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. From the same author, Traitor and Shatterpoint are equally italics-heavy, although only in some sections. Since one book's protagonist is undergoing a drug-and-torture fueled religious experience, and the other is in a Whole Plot Reference to Heart of Darkness, it is perhaps understandable.
- Terry Pratchett very occasionally veers into this territory. He'll make an ironic observation which isn't that mind-blowing, but he'll write it in italics to make it seem like it is.
- Media in American Gods is fond of overusing italics. This is intentional, as narrator Shadow takes special notice of the fact that the New Gods at large talk in cliches and unrealistic speech patterns.
- Matthew Reilly has a tendency to italicise too many verbs during the action sequences that take up the bulk of his novels.
- Lord Peter Wimsey's assistant Miss Climpson likes to emphasize everything with italics in her letters.note Since they usually only take up a few pages, it's more of a character quirk than an annoyance. Wimsey lampshades it in at least one book, with a comment to the effect that to Miss Climpson, everything is epic.
- Dave Barry in Cyberspace has some chapters parodying reference manuals which add emphasis to all technical terms. Since the book is a parody, the emphasized terms include "Planet Gazombo" and "zucchini."
- Older English editions of The Bible emphasized certain words in every sentence, probably because the editors intended the text to be read out loud.
- It's possible this is true for some versions, but the King James Version uses italics for a very different purpose: to mark words added during translation that weren't present in the original. Usually this is done because English grammar is sufficiently different from Hebrew/Greek grammar that additional words are needed to clarify the meaning.
- Another variation is those Bibles that print all direct quotes from Jesus in red.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Good luck finding a single page of any book that doesn't contain at least one word in all caps.
- Dungeon Crawler Carl brings a pet cat into the dungeon with him, and the system AI is sufficiently intrigued that it gives her sapience (higher intelligence than him, actually). Princess Donut always uses all-caps in their private chat.
Donut: CARL I DO NOT LIKE THIS LADY EVEN IF HER DOT IS WHITE. WE NEED TO DITCH HER.
- Harry Potter has some sections of text where whole paragraphs are capitalised, because of people shouting, notably from Uncle Vernon, Hagrid, and Harry himself.
- 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.
- Almost everything on the History Channel. Ominous music, tragic tales of the man who was never listened to, and of course, the ever-present deep-voiced narrator.
- What about certain presenters Jeremy Clarkson, for instance, really likes to put emphasis on almost every word. Oddly enough, Andrew Marr shares this habit.
- As noted by many at the time, David Harewood's performance as Tuck in Robin Hood was-marred-by-his-odd-insistence of speaking-very-quickly during all-of-his-lines and putting-an-emphasis on the-very-last-word of each-sentence. Needless-to-say, it-got-very-annoying.
- The Daleks of Doctor Who emphasize every individual syllable of every word they say, without exception.
- British TV chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay are especially prone to this on their TV cooking shows. both will over-use superlatives continually to describe nice-looking, but perfectly ordinary, dishes that words like "incredible" and "superb" eventually lack significance.
- This can be said about nearly any female singer who has the capability to belt, such as Christina Aguilera, Céline Dion, or Martina McBride, whose habits of reminding the listener that they have big, loud singing voices often drown out the meaning of the songs.
- This is staple trope of several forms of Punk and Metal in which screaming or growling is the dominating vocal technique. In extreme cases, the growling sounds like whispering and the distorted guitars sound like TV static.
- Opera, especially Richard Wagner & Giuseppe Verdi.
- Ludwig van Beethoven was a great offender, especially when emphasizing the end of certain symphonies. His fifth symphony screams exclamation when he ends it with a smashing final chord. And then he ends it again. And yet another time...
- Erik Satie parodied this in one of his piano pieces, that seemingly had to finish no less than five times in different ways.
- Country Music singer Craig Morgan has a tendency to belt and scream when it's completely uncalled for, such as "International Harvester", "Wake Up Lovin' You", and especially "Bonfire". Many times, this is paired with him ridiculously over-exaggerating his twang.
- This could be said to be the Signature Style of Rascal Flatts on Me and My Gang, Still Feels Good, and Unstoppable. These albums were all produced by Dann Huff, who saddled the band with screaming metal guitars, blaring string sections, and thundering pianos, forcing lead singer Gary LeVox to warble above the noise at an annoyingly high pitch and volume that was sometimes literally painful to the listener's ears. Huff finally dialed down the excess when the band moved to Big Machine Records for Nothing Like This and Changed, and they got rid of him entirely for Rewind.
- The magazine boot (predecessor to Maximum PC) had an IRATE letter to the EDITOR saying that it was the first and last issue he reads because boot BOLDFACES every third WORD. The reply: You CAN'T win them ALL, Clark.
- The Plain Truth, the house magazine of a particularly strange fringe-Christian denomination, was OVERLY FOND of this! Church fuhrer Herbert W. Armstrong was SO CONCERNED that his readership understood the ONE TRUE WAY OF GOD that not a sentence went by without EMPHASIS being placed on the KEY POINTS of the GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! Brethren, do NOT let yourselves be DECEIVED by FALSE PROPHECY!
- As mentioned, many descriptions on the TV Tropes wiki itself fall into this. It's one of the hallmarks of That Troper.
- 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.
- Many ideological tracts, especially those published by the more extreme fringes. See Jack Chick for links to some of the tamer examples.
- The Breath of Fire series is particularly guilty of this, combining it with Rainbow Speak.
- The Pokémon series tends to do this, particularly during battles. The first three generations put every proper noun in ALL CAPS.
- Your Happy Buddy from Presentable Liberty often sends you letters written in CAPS LOCK, accompanied by more exclamation marks than the page can fit.
MORNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I SOLD MY HOUSE AND MY FOOD and one of my lungs but DON'T WORRY
- Aaron William's works (Nodwick, Ps238), for otherwise exceptional series, can often feature uncomfortable amounts of this. Some time around 2010, this was apparently brought to his attention and it's toned down a bit since then.
- Sparks in Girl Genius talk like this, especially when they're in The Madness Place.
- The dialogue in Dominic Deegan is filled with bolded words. Sometimes it's there to make sure that readers don't miss the puns, but most of the time it's downright random.
- In over ten years of Gene Catlow, there are maybe two sentences that don't end in either an exclamation point, a question mark, or an ellipsis. This can make the frequent exposition frustrating to read, especially on an Archive Binge.
- The Birthday Cake's storybook is guilty of this in Awful Hospital. It is a very excitable, high-strung, and easily irritable pastry.
- Karkat from Homestuck CONSTANTLY TYPES IN ALL CAPS NO MATTER WHAT HE'S SAYING. This is likely deliberate on his part, representing how PISSED OFF AT ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING HE IS, PRETTY MUCH CONSTANTLY.