99% of all editors, writing instructors, and experienced writers will tell you: “Use emphasis sparingly.” Emphasis includes ALL CAPS, bold, underscore, and italics. And exclamation points!!!
(OK, 99% is an unverified statistic. I made it up — you know, to emphasize my point.)
This is why our gatekeeper friends will relegate a manuscript to the slush pile if the first couple of pages include too many italicized, bolded, underscored, or ALL CAPPED words and phrases. Fairly or not, they’re leaping to the conclusion that the writer who relies heavily on gimmicks is not ready for prime time.
How many is “too many”? If they’re the first thing a person notices when she pulls your ms. out of the envelope or opens the file, that’s too many. Aim for “none” and you’ll probably get it about right.
“But,” you wail, “how do I show what’s important?”
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