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I've worked with both a designer and an editor on a project which required their mutual agreement. One of their differing points was about whether or not punctuation should be bolded, italicized.

An example is:

enter image description here

Let's say the sentence above was to be placed somewhere within several paragraphs of general copy and not a header or headline. What combination feels right for the best user experience (if any)?

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I don't think this is a user experience question (or it's borderline at best). Generally, punctuation is treated the same as the word it's attached to. –  Andrew Leach Jul 17 '13 at 11:14
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is not (clearly) about UX. –  rk. Jul 17 '13 at 16:05
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It is (borderline) UX because if you do not follow expected conventions, the UX suffers... –  Marjan Venema Jul 17 '13 at 17:47
    
"when it can be avoided" <- what does that mean? It can always be avoided. –  Kaz Jul 17 '13 at 18:47
    
I've removed the confusing line about "when it can be avoided". –  Tim Selaty Jr. Jul 18 '13 at 11:36
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2 Answers

up vote 41 down vote accepted

Any sentence or fragment which is styled should apply the same style to its punctuation. In this case, the exclamation mark is part of the sentence being styled, so it should carry the same style as any alphabetic characters or punctuation within the sentence:

The brown fox (trailing the chicken's feathers) jumped over the hill!

A contrasting situation where you shouldn't style the punctuation characters is where they are not part of the sentence/fragment, for example brackets or quotes surrounding a styled part:

She typed "The quick brown fox (trailing the chicken's feathers) jumped over the hill!" very quickly.

In that case, the quotes are not part of the sentence/fragment I am emphasizing, so they aren't bolded.

Similarly, styling should not be attached to punctuation if the styling is used to represent an action (e.g., a hyper-linked word or url) or some form of quoting (e.g. italics for titles or fixed-width font for code samples). [Credit: Brian in comments].

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+1 Good answer, couldn't agree more. –  AndroidHustle Jul 17 '13 at 11:34
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Similarly, styling should not be attached to punctuation if the styling is used to represent an action (e.g., a hyper-linked word or url) or some form of quoting (e.g., italics for titles or fixed-width font for code samples) –  Brian Jul 17 '13 at 13:01
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If the full sentence is styled, then the punctuation which is part of that sentence should be styled in the same manner. If just part of the sentence (a word or phrase) is styled, then the punctuation should not be. –  wootcat Jul 17 '13 at 16:21
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I agree. Do you have advice on how to combine this with "american quotation," which pulls in punctuation? (Or has that fallen from use entirely?) –  Ulrich Schwarz Jul 17 '13 at 18:32
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Don't know; I'm not familiar with "american quotation". –  vincebowdren Jul 18 '13 at 7:28
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I asked a journalist friend of mine about this and she says that the only rule here is that the period MUST always be italicised.

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