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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Sure it does, that's what the hole is for! And I play the lady scientist who discovers the ozone layer is an alligator-layer! I even get a love scene with the David Hewlett!


Characters prone to this sort of speech may as well practice their speech before a Mirror Monologue each morning. They may ruminate on a regular basis on Truth and Lies, justice, and puppies, in general conversation. They may treat every dangerous situation as their Last Stand. Or, they may simply be a pretentious thesaurus-wielding maniac.

In short, Characters As Device speaking with Unusual Euphemism and often annoying emphasis in normal conversation. Typefaces used in Comic Books tend to make italics/obliques hard to see, so letterers use bold. These are characters whose abuse of boldface is so severe the poor thing should get a restraining order placed on them. The author probably intends to show dramatic emphasis, but generally people don't actually use dramatic emphasis like this in Real Life, or, often, at all. Used occasionally, bold phrases can be statements of power; overused or clumsily used they tend to irritate the reader and discredit the character, who wonders who the hell listens to this blowhard. It's a well-intentioned trope Gone Horribly Wrong.

Generally a Comic Books and Web Comics trope because of its print nature, though in some cases this literary atrocity has been inflicted upon the world in Film and Video Games form. It generally looks somewhat less silly in comics than in plain text, although this may just be because readers are more used to seeing it there. So much so, some readers just ignore it entirely.

It should be noted that this is not always the writer's fault when this happens. Oftentimes, especially in comic books, the editor will indicate to the letterer that he wants certain random words bolded, on the assumption that a reader will become bored by plain black text without any change to spice it up. Fortunately, this practice is becoming a Discredited Trope.

May be a subtrope of Painting the Medium. Inversion of Creepy Monotone. See also Blue Text for a related phenomenon on This Very Wiki.

See Rainbow Speak where the intent is merely to inform the player of a key item or topic for further discussion.

See also Emphasize Everything.

Examples of Bold Inflation include:


  • It was once fairly standard for motels to promote a colour telly in every room with signage declaring COLOR TV, every character in a different colour. Now largely a Forgotten Trope as monochrome television receivers are no longer manufactured.

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Every single comic published by Archie Comics (such as Betty, Jughead, Sonic, etc) comic uses excessive bold, often on unimportant words. Every single sentence, with the rare exceptions of some questions, ends in an exclamation point as well. Apparently the people of Riverdale are constantly screaming out of rhythm.
    • Their Sonic comic has at least gotten better about it since Ian Flynn took over writing. The rest, eh...
  • Every single Disney comic uses also excessive bold, random emphasizing and exclamation points as sentence finishers. Especially in Duckburg.
  • Lampshaded in Garth Ennis' The Boys.
  • Daredevil's and Spider-Man's foe The Rose, son of Kingpin, had a henchgirl, Delilah whose power, apparently, was to randomly speak in a different font. And throw tanks. What would happen if she met Deadpool?
  • Comic book author James Robinson has a tendency to place emphasis on words that really shouldn't have it.
  • In a Batman story reprinted in "Batman in the Fifties," Bats and Robin reminisced about the various Batarangs they'd used over the years, all while keeping us in suspense about what Batarang X was. This meant that the word "Batarang" appeared multiple times in nearly every panel. Every use of the word batarang in this story filled with batarangs as it discussed every batarang ever used since the invention of batarangs leading up to the introduction of a new batarang bolded every use of the word batarang until you want to kill all the writers with batarangs and never want to hear the word batarang again in your life. (If anything, that last sentence is a gross understatement of what it's like.)
    • Quite normal for the era. All occurrences of a name would be bolded as well. "Batman and Robin are in the Bat-cave when the Bat-signal shows up and so Batman and Robin must go to the roof to meet Commissioner Gordon and so on (and on and on. Not one occurrence of a name will go unbolded before the late 50s at least.)
  • Inverted in Watchmen with Rorschach, who is only shown speaking with bold once, during the "Crimebusters" flashback in chapter 2. (And if you asked him, he'd say that wasn't Rorschach: Rorschach didn't really exist yet.) Other characters describe him as speaking in a flat monotone.
  • In the old The Transformers series, whenever a character was referred to by name for the first time—particularly during Budiansky's run as the writer, when new characters were introduced—their names were bolded. This was possibly to make sure the reader knew who was who, with the slew of new characters that tended to appear every two issues or so—or Budiansky's tongue-in-cheek way of sticking it to Hasbro executives insisting the newest toys got the spotlight.
  • An issue of Spider-Man had a scene lampshading this. Doctor Doom was being escorted through an airport by two American security agents, one of whom was Captain America (comics) in disguise. Dr. Doom threatens the two agents and refers to himself in the third person, with DOCTOR DOOM stylized. Cap asks, "How do you do that... [dead link] talk in all capitals like that?"
  • In comments in this interview, Ryan North places the blame for this partly on comics' insistence on putting all dialog and text in ALL CAPS.
  • Intentionally avoided in Strangers in Paradise, since Terry Moore felt it was unnecessary when writing for an adult audience.
  • Characters in Adam Warren's comics - especially in Empowered - often use huge, bold, underlined capital letters for emphasis.
  • One Alienversus Predator graphic novel began with a scene where some scientists were examining the body of a dead Alien:

Scientist #1: "This creatures has an armoured exoskeleton and acidic blood.
Scientist #2: "What sort of predator could this have evolved as a defence against?"

  • Comics writer Geoff Johns (The Flash, Justice Society of America, Green Lantern) has a tendency to place the emphasis on words at odd places in a sentence for no apparent reason. It's not that bad, but it does make one scratch their head from time to time.
  • Marvel's Thor and Throg (Frog-Thor) speak in a different text, due to them being Gods. Interestingly, Ares doesn't.
  • While Marvel's Ultimate X-Men is no worse of an offender than any other comic, it features at least one scene of Professor Xavier sending an email liberally sprinkled with italicized words, making him sound like a crazy person on the internet. As well as literally fully capitalising some words. In a widely published essay. And he wonders why people still think he's insane...
  • A signature of Jack Kirby's writing, especially during The Seventies, and especially in the Fourth World saga. Unlike many examples on this page, The King's choice of emphasis usually does reflect a fairly natural (if overly urgent) speech cadence.
  • Averted in most French-Belgian comics, which mainly use bold writing for loud speaking, strong emphasis, and when it really alters the meaning of a sentence. As such, American-style bold inflation is often seen as an example of Viewers are Morons. Use of exclamation marks and ellipsis is widespread, though.
  • The Dirty Pair comics by Adam Warren and (occasionally) Toren Smith are drawn in a manga-influenced style, but the text has more American-style bold inflation than is usual for English translations of manga.

Fan Works

  • Commonly used in Fanfic by beginning writers, to unnecessarily stress words as part of directly transcribing their thoughts into text. Professionally published fiction rarely uses bold and italics for stress.
  • Those Lacking Spines, a parody of Kingdom Hearts fanfic:

He was so badass his font was bolded.
"And now you shall learn, and you shall fear, and you shall learn to fear the wrath... of Jeffiroth!" he cackled maniacally.'



  • Edward D'Eath spoke like this to himself (with italics in place of bold) in the Discworld novel Men At Arms. This was to signify that he was an absolute nutter.
  • The book series Fearless puts what the writer (or other member of The Powers That Be) thinks is the most Badass sentence on each page larger and in a different typeface than the rest, instantly transforming it into Narm.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers uses this (with italics) in several of her books to show the annoying speech patterns of certain characters.

Miss Twitterton: Oh, Frank! You've been worrying Uncle again. I've told you, you're just being silly about your money. I know it's quite safe with Uncle.

    • Miss Katharine Climpson, the harmless-seeming spinster turned enquiry agent in Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey series of detective novels, speaks in an italicized variant of this, conveying her gossipy nature. She does it in her own writing, too. This is meant to indicate her old-fashioned, Victorian outlook; overuse of underlining is often mentioned as a characteristic of Victorian women's writing, especially in letters. Characters in the Anne of Green Gables series often do it too.
  • One word: Superdictionary.
  • In American Psycho Patrick Bateman tends to emphasise unusual words in his sentences. It's not exactly the same trope, but still tends to fit the spirit of the thing.
  • Angie Sage, author of the Septimus Heap series, tends to bold all Magykal words. Some people find it "annoying" and/or "condescending."
  • John Hodgman is fond of using ALL CAPS for emphasis. WERE YOU AWARE OF IT?

Live Action TV

  • Captain James...T....Kirk!
  • Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson's speech is the best example of this...
    • the world.
  • Putting unusual emphasis on random words? Could there be a better description of Chandler's signature mode of speech on Friends?
  • How I Met Your Mother's Barney Stinson. His use of this is Legen waitforit DARY. LEGENDARY.


  • Boot, the precursor to Maximum PC, had one of the Letters to the Editor complain about this. It contained semi-boldfaced words, and stated that the writer read the FIRST and LAST issue because they BOLDFACE every third WORD. The editor's reply was that you CAN'T win them ALL.
  • Mad Magazine has does this constantly ever since its days as a comic book. Authors especially like emboldening nouns and adjectives! Gratuitous Yiddish expressions will always be bold as well, schmuck!
    • The original Cracked Magazine was just as bad.
  • The Sun and similar disreputable British Newspapers ABUSE this trope CONSTANTLY so that their READERS can pick out the IMPORTANT words.
    • Russell Brand, when dissecting an unflattering Sun article about him in his stand-up routine, drew the audience's attention to this trope. Some time afterwards, the Sun had another article about him, in which they seemingly lampshaded it, emboldening words such as WAS and HAD.
  • PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak randomly scatters bolding throughout his technology columns.

Newspaper Comics

  • Brenda Starr is a major offender.
  • Buckles is an example of both this and overuse of exclamation points!
  • In a variation, in his later years on Mandrake the Magician, Lee Falk (who wrote the strip into his 90's!) had... a great... fondness... for ellipses... And also! Sentence fragments! But Mandrake was always awesome anyway. The strip's current writer doesn't seem to have these quirks.
  • Mark Trail features Bold Inflation almost like a full character, alongside its beautifully drawn animal pictures! Also there's something about humans punching humans in there somewhere. I dunno the details.
  • Pearls Before Swine once accused Soap Operas of an oral version of this, imitated in-comic by bolding every third word. "We can do that!

Tabletop Games

  • Kevin Siembieda, creator of Rifts, has a deep and abiding love for unnecessary amounts of italics in any Sourcebook that he writes.
  • Most of the old Traveller RPG material insists on putting the name of the game system in bold. While it looks okay in small doses, it can look a little awful when you have to list all of the Traveller systems, like Classic Traveller, Mega Traveller, Traveller: The New Era...
    • Similarly GURPS (that's right: bold, italic and all caps). It frequently ends up looking silly given that the system has an enormous volume of splatbooks and the writers load them with references to one another.

Video Games

  • The G-Man from the Half Life series speaks like this, emphasizing his otherworldly nature.
    • "The right emphasis on the wrong words can make all the dif-fer-encccce in the world."
  • The first Resident Evil game had it quite clearly. Especially Barry Burton.
    • Especially against Living things.
  • Originally, Pokémon[1] games wrote the names of every proper noun in all caps. In other words, you play as a POKéMON TRAINER in the KANTO, JOHTO or HOENN region on a quest to get every BADGE from every GYM LEADER and eventually take on the ELITE FOUR, having to go through the likes of TEAM ROCKET, TEAM AQUA, or TEAM MAGMA on the way. Diamond and Pearl ended this practice, but their generation still capitalized the names of individual Pokémon due to backward compatibility with the Game Boy Advance games, which use the old method of capitalization (for example, Diamond and Pearl would still say PIKACHU instead of Pikachu, but would say Town Map instead of TOWN MAP). Black and White did away with this as well, meaning no more ALL CAPS at all (for example, a pre-release screenshot of the starter selection refers to the fire starter as Tepig instead of TEPIG, and battle screenshots are similarly capitalized).
    • And of course this means all Pokémon in the Super Smash Bros. series have all caps names, at least in the German and French versions of Melee and all languages in the PAL version of Brawl (even in English, despite the fact that they don't in the NA version).
    • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon have the main player name in blue, the team members' names in yellow and the other NPCs in light blue.
  • The Super Mario Bros.. series is a repeat offender, most apparent in the Paper Mario games.
  • The GBA port of Donkey Kong Country spells King K. Rool's name as "K.ROOL" for no reason at all.
    • In Donkey Kong 64, whenever Funky Kong says K. Rool's name, it is rendered in shaky text.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi went one worse and put words in red on a seemingly random basis.
    • Also done in Okami, and is just as annoying due to Issun wanting to explain everything.
  • And we can't forget Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth! who manages to constantly talk in bold font and emphasize whatever he says in a ridiculously epic manner akin to Captain Kirk on Crack! As such. fans see it as customary to write his name only in bold font and with the gratuitous use of exclamation points! This is particularly obnoxious because no such thing appears in the game, which just uses voice tracks.
    • How else can you possibly convey the speech patterns of CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH! in text?
  • Zelda games from the N64 onwards are very bad for this. Dialogue about certain items or characters are put in green or blue or even red!
    • Words appear in all the colors of the rainbow in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. Especially when referring to the Sages/Temples. Light-Forest-Fire-Water-Spirit-Shadow. Yes, Shadow is written in pink. Purple is usually reserved for other things, as is orange.
    • This gets unintentionally hilarious in the ending of Ocarina of Time, when Ganondorf screams at you in ALL CAPS. Because you can rename Link to anything you want, it doesn't affect your protagonist's name at all. Thus, it all comes off like a Hong Kong Dub in a dramatic moment. "CURSE YOU, ZELDA! CURSE YOU, SAGES! CURSE YOU, Link!"
      • What, did Nintendo never hear about toupper() ?
  • Kingdom of Loathing does this to give you hints on one late-game puzzle. You have to insert a series of keys to progress, and if you put in the wrong sequence, you get the message "perhaps if you concentrate a little harder, you'll figure it out." Sure enough said sequence is the Konami Code.
  • Beneath a Steel Sky does this ALL the way through the GAME with every line of DIALOGUE being LITTERED with words in CAPITAL letters. It's really ANNOYING.
  • In Tyrian, the datacubes and ship descriptions are often sprinkled with bolded text. Names and values are almost always bolded, but sometimes, it is done for emphasis. For instance: The Gencore Maelstrom is a refined Phoenix with an additional 2cm of main hull. It also features deluxe plush seating with extra-wide armrests and synth-velour lining.[2]
    • And who can forget good old Javi? I will take you out with my personal DREADNAUGHT! You are nothing to me, do you hear me! NOTHING!!!
  • Final Fantasy VIII tends to emphasize certain [keywords]due to their plot importance rather than context within the sentence.
    • One of the most ridiculous-looking examples is one of the first, when the game tells you that there's relevant information in [your desk].
  • Arcturus Mengsk in StarCraft and Starcraft 2. Though it doesn't show up in subtitles, you can hear it in every other word he says.
    • And in StarCraft II, there is MAAR, who TALKS like THIS ALL the DAMN TIME.
  • The Ace Attorney series always makes sure you know when a certain phrase is important.
  • In Old World Blues, the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, Dr. Borous has this as a Verbal Tic, which serves to make him an even bigger ham than he already is. If questioned about this, his response is:

"DRAMA? There is no DRAMA in Science! As I learned in High School, Science! is an intellectual pursuit DEVOID of bestial emotions!"


Web Original


  • Dominic Deegan falls into this all too often. The words in bold tend to be the usual Incredibly Lame Puns, and while their emphasis would be weird in normal conversation, it serves to highlight those puns to the more moronic listeners (and the more moronic readers).
    • Though most of the time, the bolded words are completely random, and may just be due to Mookie writing the text by hand, causing people to be emphasizing words in their speech for no reason.
  • Spoofed in Sluggy Freelance: When a mission was announced, the wrong parts of the mission were emphasized (specifically, the part where it was noted that Anyone Can Die). The speaker immediately berated the sound technician for putting reverb on the wrong part of the statement, to which he replied "Oh, my bad!"
  • Played for Laughs in Narbonic with ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST, who also only speaks his name in ALL CAPS.
  • Tycho from Penny Arcade, who feels the need to use italics every second sentence.
    • Talk out the strip, though, and the bold/italicized text works with the emphasis. It's not random, like most of the examples above.
  • Dandy and Company used to suffer from this, perhaps due to the cartoonist's comic book influence.
  • T Campbell of Penny and Aggie has a nasty habit of bolding all the time, and often in the least intuitive places.
    • Another weird textual habit of T's (and he has many—note that there's no period after his first "name") is that he'll often italicize only the particular syllable being stressed. This shows up most often in Fans.
  • In a variation, The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob uses underlines for emphasis, instead of boldface or italics.
  • How I Killed Your Master uses this for emphasised words, witness the page quote among others.
  • Taking after video game inspirations, in MS Paint Adventures, during the INTRODUCTION OF A NEW CHARACTER a number of IMPORTANT KEYWORDS, including their NAME, will be ENTIRELY CAPITALIZED. This does not happen during normal narration, save for certain game jargon such as the STRIFE SPECIBUS. On rare occasion simply used for emphasis of a phrase.
    • On a related note, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff also does this. Of course, considering the nature of the comic in question, more often than not the inflated words aren't the ones which would be sensible to emphasise, and even the physical form of the emphasis is inconsistent - sometimes it's boldface, sometimes it's enlarged text, sometimes it's text enlarged even further, and sometimes it's colored.

Western Animation

  • Squirrel Boy: Rodney says his cousin is "Good at pretending to be something [he's] not". When his cousin notices the bold inflation, Rodney says he doesn't have any control over it.
  • In the Weird Al Show Fatman segments, the narrator does an audio version of this trope with various words being shouted.

Real Life

  • Incredibly long-winded essayist Bill Whittle actually makes this one work.
  • Chick Tracts do this a lot, too.
  • The explanatory signs in the Roman Gardens at Chester increase the size of the text for words that might be considered important. When this happens on every line it tends to distract from the flow of the text.
  • Political fundraising letters use and abuse this shamelessly, but with underlines. It's almost a running gag among political professionals - the more a fundraising letter looks like an overwritten piece of crap that wouldn't get by a third-grade teacher, the more money it brings in. This is because supporters don't read the letter, they just give you hundreds or thousands of dollars based on skimming it.
  • Despite what software licence writers might think, writing an entire paragraph in ALL CAPS makes it harder to read and more likely just to be skimmed over, defeating the entire point of putting it in ALL CAPS in the first place. This makes sense for those written under the assumption that they won't actually be read, but there's no excuse otherwise.
    • What makes you think they WANT it to be easy to read?
  • A quirky reply form sent to Brian Blessed used this in the negative responses.

I am (pleased/sorry/too busy) to tell you that your request (has been accepted/has been declined/is utterly ridiculous, NOW BEGONE).

  • Some teenagers on forums have gotten into the habit of marking up each individual word (including underline and strikeout) in their signature quotes in an attempt to make their quotes look special. It doesn't work, kids.
  • A common SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactic is to highlight every single use of certain keywords so that your site is bumped up in searches for said keywords. When overused, it can give the feel of this trope.
  1. For those wondering why the é in POKéMON is left uncapitalized, it's because the font the games use leaves no room for an accent mark over a capital E.
  2. Note the content of the bolded text. "Gencore Maelstrom" and "Phoenix", name; "2cm", value; "extra-wide armrests" and "synth-velour lining", sheer emphasis.