bold or italic

One or the other, as little as possible

Bold or italic—think of them as mutu­ally exclu­sive. That is rule #1.

Rule #2: use bold and italic as lit­tle as pos­si­ble. They are tools for empha­sis. But if every­thing is empha­sized, then noth­ing is empha­sized. Also, because bold and italic styles are designed to con­trast with reg­u­lar roman text, they’re some­what harder to read. They’re fine for short bits of text, but not for long stretches.

Nev­er­the­less, some law­yers—let’s call them overem­pha­siz­ers —just can’t get enough bold and italic. If they feel strongly about a point, they won’t hes­i­tate to run the whole para­graph in bold type. Don’t be one of these peo­ple. This habit wears down your read­ers’ reti­nas and their patience. It also gives you nowhere to go when you need to empha­size a word. That’s never a prob­lem for overem­pha­siz­ers, who resort to under­lin­ing bold text or using a lot of bold italic. These are both ter­ri­ble ideas.