I love italics. I love italics. I love italics! If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed this. If you’re the judgmental editor type (it’s okay, you’re in good company), you may even feel that I overuse italics.
I have to admit, I wonder about it myself sometimes. But I’ll get to writing some tale and needing to inject emotion to correctly emphasize a sentence, so I just click and click and bam! apply real feeling with the help of my italics button. I always figure that if I can italicize a word or two… or twenty… reading my writing is more like talking with me in person.
I think part of my tendency to overuse italics comes from the reality that there was a time in my life when I didn’t have italics. I hoard italics here in my 30s because back in my 20s, when I worked at a newspaper, I didn’t have italics. I was continually frustrated in my work as an editor because — at least at Agri-News — we editors always saved stories in rich text format on a server (a big computer to which all the computers in the office were connected) through which the paginators (the people who design a newspaper page) could retrieve our work.
Italics don’t transfer when a document is saved in rich text format. And so, for three long years in the editor’s chair, I suffered without italics at my disposal and wrote boring, lifeless pieces with no real emphasis. I mean, a gal can only use so many capital letters to provide emphasis in writing, especially now that the world seems to discern that a writer is yelling whenever she writes in caps.
DOES THIS SEEM TO YOU LIKE I’M YELLING AT YOU?
Apparently it’s public consensus, so I do try to avoid using a lot of all-caps in my writing. But italics… wonderful italics… they are soft, and gentle, and beautiful… and they only make it seem like the writer applying the italics is passionate. Or excited.
But if you use them too much, that becomes overly passionate. Or overexcited. So. I promise I will try to avoid overuse of italics at risk of being discredited as an overexcited hoarder.
One more note of interest: I went to high school with a girl who insisted she couldn’t read italics. As in, regular type and italic type looked exactly the same to her; her eye couldn’t discern a difference. The interesting thing was, this girl was always in drama class. She was likely to read her line in the play in this way: “Loud and grating Ma I’ll be back from Pa’s farm tomorrow ya’ll take care now ya hear exit stage left.”
I can’t even begin to think of how to diagnose that problem. So I’m just gonna let it go…
© Tami Blake