Emphasize Everything

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We mean that--EVERYTHING!

This is an admitted Sub-Trope of the Bad Writing Index -- The Law of Conservation of Excitement -- but sometimes it's fun.

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 use 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.

Examples of Emphasize Everything include:


  • Dan Green said in an interview (perhaps jokingly) that all of his lines in Yu-Gi-Oh! were written in ALL CAPS with bold for EVEN MORE EMPHASIS!


  • 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 reader, if he wants 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.
  • A lot of words you wouldn't expect to be italicized are anyway in the comic-book version of Watchmen.
    • This one thinks that it's because of the fact that people in real life, while they do usually have very distinct speech patterns, quite often italicize strange words in their speech.
    • Averted with Rorschach who speaks with no italics or bold. His voice IS described by other characters though as being a creepy, gravel-y monotone
  • The original dead tree edition of Elf Quest #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.
  • In Mad Magazine, words are bolded apparently at random. Might be a parody of comic books as a genre.
  • Attention true believers! For some reason Stan Lee has not yet been mentioned!! This must be fixed!!
  • Much seen in old Superman comics, where every mention of Superman or any of his super-powers is given super-emphasis.
  • Frank Miller, once he sank into his self-parody phase, fell into this.
  • Older serial newspaper comics such as Mary Worth and Apartment 3G used to do this all the time! Even the most mundane of sentences ended in exclamation points!
  • Jack Chick tends to have a problem with this, which just adds to how incredibly Anvilicious his tracts are.
    • In one tract, 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.
  • The 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.
  • Archie comics end every! Single! Sentence! With an exclamation point! No matter what! Even when they whisper!
  • 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 violate the Comics Code inadvertently!)


  • Pretty much everything listed under World of Ham probably overlaps with this trope to at least some extent. Particularly 300.
  • 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.


  • 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. Possibly justified, since the book's main character, Anakin Skywalker, is a notorious drama queen.
    • 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.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope with Stephen King... sometimes he uses way too many italics, sometimes not so much.
    • He does use lots of italics, but most of them are to indicate a character's thoughts, not to emphasize words.
  • 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. Since they usually only take up a few pages, it's more of a character quirk than an annoyance.

Live Action TV

  • 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.


  • The magazine boot (predecesor 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.


  • This can be said about Christina Aguilera, whose habit of reminding the listener that she has a big, loud singing voice often drowns out the meaning of the song she's trying to sing.
  • This is staple trope of several forms of Punk and Metal in which screaming or growling is the dominating vocal technique. At extreme cases the growling sounds like whispering and the distorted guitars sound like TV static.


  • Aaron William's works (Nodwick, PS238), for otherwise exceptional series, can often feature uncomfortable amounts of this.
  • Many sparks in Girl Genius talk like this.
    • Princess Xerxsephnia von Blitzengaard talks expressively, too. Possibly because Seffie knows that Mad Scientists rule the world (badly) and adapts accordingly. She trained to perform creepy maniacal laughter ("Hee hee! Isn't it good?! ...but I'm still working on the harmonics.") - so this habit may be another tool: she isn't Chewing the Scenery, but won't seem too bland either.
  • 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.

Video Games

Troping and Meta

  • As mentioned, many descriptions on the wiki itself fall into this. It's one of the hallmarks of That Troper.
    • The late "I Am Not Making This Up" section was an epic emphasis spam, not only in grammatical terms but by its very existence. It was a place that everyone could go to underscore how amazing/bizarre/hilarious events from entertainment could be, and, well, everything ended up underscored.
    • Any sufficiently enthusiastic fandom will sprinkle exclamation points and italics here or there, especially when the work in question involves a lot of yelling. The italics seem to come out for particularly brutal or extreme actions, though things that might be intense in one fandom won't even register in another.
  • Often crops up in Fan Fiction of course, but what aspect of bad writing doesn't?
    • One can find Emphasis Spam in all its forms, including bold, italic, coloured text, different fonts, repeated letters (including letters that represent sounds that are hard if not impossible to extend) and multiple exclamation marks.
    • Tropes Are Not Bad example: Forward is notorious for depicting resident Cloudcuckoolander River's thoughts with "Riverthink", consisting of randomly-placed italics, bold, underlining, and sudden switches to centered or right-aligned text.
  • 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.
  • And speaking of nuts, Time Cube and most of its parodies.