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    Home Articles

    Adding Emphasis to Plain Text Writin

    As an entrepreneur, you probably realize the importance of adding emphasis to your business writing -- as in the form of strong, underline and italics -- especially when creating advertising copy or ezine articles. The problem is how to add emphasis when writing copy that will be viewed as plain text.

    Here are some ideas to help you draw attention to your writing without the benefit of the popular word processing features.


    Use Asterisks

    Setting off a word or phrase with asterisks is the plain text equivalent of bold.

    Emphasis can be created in a *number* of ways when writing in plain text.


    Use Headings and Sub-Headings

    Headings, such as the one above, especially when set off by equal signs, carets, "greater than" symbols or dashes, work well to draw attention to important points in your text.


    Vary the Indentation

    Simply indenting a paragraph by one or two spaces draws added attention.

    Be sure to keep your indentation uniform, however.


    Use UPPERCASE

    Uppercase letters are another great way to emphasize important points, but use them sparingly! One or two words is sufficient. Too many uppercase words has the same effective as shouting in your reader's face.


    Exclamation Points are Great, too!

    Use exclamation points to drive home your message. A sentence that ends in a period simply does not evoke the same response as the same sentence when followed by an exclamation mark.

    This is a great deal.

    This is a great deal!

    See the difference?


    Add a Little Dash

    One or two dashes -- preferably with a space on each side -- also works well to set off a sentence or line of text. Don't you agree?


    Create Paragraph "Borders"

    Dashes also take the place of horizontal lines and work well to create borders that set off full paragraphs of text.

    ---------------------------------------------
    Remember that your spellcheck program
    looks for *correctly spelled words,* it doesn't
    determine if the word used is the proper
    one. You must still proofread!
    ---------------------------------------------

    Reorder Your Words

    Simply changing the order of words in a sentence can change the emphasis.

    The sales manager posted the advertisement.

    It was the sales manager who posted the advertisement.


    Capitalize on Certain Words

    Capitalizing a word that is not typically capitalized is a great way to add empahsis.

    Proofreading is crucial to effective writing.

    Proofreading is Crucial to effective writing.


    Repeat Yourself

    Repetition of specific words can be extremely effective.

    To succeed, you must consider yourself successful.
    Act as if you're successful. Think as if you're successful.
    Talk as if you're successful. And you'll be successful.

    Break the Pattern

    Another possibility is to alter the pattern of repetition for emphasis.

    To succeed, you must consider yourself successful.
    Act as if you're successful. Think as if you're successful.
    Talk as if you're successful. Or you'll fail miserably.

    One final note... if you must err when adding empahsis to your writing, let it be on the side of understatement rather than overstatement. You'll present a much more polished and professional image with your writing.

    Copyright © 2000 Darlene Bishop

    Darlene Bishop is a Christian minister, speaker, freelance writer and editor with over 20 years experience. She has published numerous articles for both print and online publications. You can reach Darlene through her website at: http://www.darlenebishop.com or by email to darlene@darlenebishop.com.

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