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  1. Angus wrote on

    I use boldface!

    I know you’re talking about how you present copy to clients, but the semantic markup geek in me would avoid using all caps in anything that has to be cut and pasted into a website, because it doesn’t convey enough information (i.e. it doesn’t distinguish between a “real” capital at the start of a proper noun, and a capital that’s purely for emphasis). If I really wanted to use all caps for emphasis on the website, I’d use the “em” or “strong” tag and then use CSS to transform it in the browser.

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Interesting. Problem I have with that, though, is that I like to use bold for the key MEANING elements, not the key WRITING elements. I want readers to scan the page and understand the meaning, not scan it and exclaim over the wordsmithing. (I’m not suggesting you want that either, btw.)

  2. Lisa O wrote on

    Agreed re italics. I don’t use bold as it looks like a link, so you’ve got a potential user experience issue there. I use caps for occasional emphasis, but never for ‘us’ for the reason you’ve identified in your post.

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Hi Lisa, and thanks for your comment. I posted this question on G+ & FB too, and getting all sorts of answers. It seems there’s no universal convention. Maybe now’s the time to create one! :-)

  3. Erin wrote on

    I’ve faced this dilemma many times — italics, caps or bold. So I’ve adopted a fourth option, which works for my website and on social media:

    Asterixes on either side of the emphasised word.

    “Our property valuers *do* spend …”

    “… the perfect block comes looking for *us*!”

    It might get a bit clunky close to quote marks, but at least the exclamation mark breaks it up.

    I suspect, stylistically-speaking, it’s not a good fit for every brand. But I don’t mind having a few “stars” on my webpage …

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been contemplating this question for a while and haven’t fully committed to one yet. I think I’ve just answered my own question!

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Hi Erin. Hmmm. Yeah, I think that might work for some audiences. I’ll keep it up my sleeve. I suspect non-social media audiences might find it a bit confusing though. I’m getting the feeling there’s no easy answer here. :-(

  4. Merryl Rosenthal wrote on

    Italic on screen is fine, as long as it isn’t used more than once or twice in any given piece of content. Too many italicized words and you risk sounding like a Valley Girl.

    Caps, even for a short word, do look like shouting on screen. THEY JUST WON’T DO. ;-)

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Hi Merryl. Yep, I’ve been using italics since writing this post. I haven’t really paid much attention to how many I’ve used though. I figure if the italics, alone, are enough to make me sound like a Valley Girl, I’m doing something very wrong in the rest of my copy!

  5. Pingback: Writing web copy – Italics or UPPER CASE for emphasis? | AWD CopywritingBlog

  6. Gregory Morley wrote on

    In copywriting for radio, two practices used are underlining, or caps. The problem with caps, however is that it can be confused with instructions to the announcer/voice. Italics are avoided.

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Thanks Gregory. Yeah, I like underlining for emphasis, and I sometimes do it for offline copy, but for online it doesn’t work, for obvious reasons.

  7. Jacky wrote on

    Great post Glenn. I think a solution may lie in typeface. Emphasis can be conveyed 2 ways – either by using a different but complementing font or through the use of small caps. The small caps solution may resolve the issue of distinguishing between “us” and “US”.

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Interesting suggestions. Have you seen any examples of this online?

  8. John wrote on

    Nice post. I tried to find split test results to put the question to bed but NO ONE seems to have done one. So I’m going to. I’ll let you know how it goes

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      That would be great, thank you. I’d be very interested to see the results. :-)

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