When Is It Okay To Use Italics?

Description: It's very easy to get caught up in all the ways you can present your text when you start designing your website. But certain things shouldn't be used all the time - and italics are one of them.

If you're new to the world of web design, you might think that presenting all your web copy in italics actually looks rather nice. But you'd be wrong.

If you see italic type printed on a piece of paper it can look quite nice, depending on the font that is used. But it doesn't translate very well to the screen. This is because a computer screen is made from pixels, which means that italic type doesn't look as good as it does on paper. Why would you want to make life harder for your visitors?

The key to creating a great website is in using design features that are visitor friendly - and italics aren't. Try reading a paragraph online that is entirely in italics and you will see how difficult it can be to read. Make sure you please your visitors by steering clear of it as much as you can.

There are exceptions however. Italics are extremely good for emphasis, provided they are not overused. If you start emphasising words in every other sentence the reader will stop paying attention to them. Literally just a word or two should be all that's needed to make your point without making it hard to read what you want to say.

You should also bear in mind that how easily readable your italics are can depend a lot on what typeface you are using. Not everyone has the same computer to display web pages on either; a Mac will display certain typefaces slightly differently from other computers, for example.

In short, don't use italics unless you absolutely have to. Use them too much and you'll dilute their meaning, don't use them at all and you'll have to make sure your writing makes up for the lack of ?easily inserted emphasis'.

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