5 Ways to Emphasize Text

Emphasizing text can be a useful tool in any form of business writing or design.

Sometimes business communications are read quickly and often skimmed, so placing emphasis on important elements can help to get your message read and understood by your audience.

Here we have discussed 5 common ways to emphasize text:

1. Italicize

Italics are a nice improvement from the days of the typewriter when underlining was the norm. You could use an underline to add emphasis, but why would you when you have perfectly good italics?

Italics provide a sophisticated and somewhat gentle form of emphasis. It makes you take notice of the text in italics, but it does not provide an in-your-face sort of emphasis.

Italics are ideal for emphasizing a word or phrase. They are not to be used to emphasize large amounts of text.

2. Bold

Using bold text is more dramatic and easily recognizable than italics. Bold text draws the eye more than text that is italicized.

Like italics, you will want to use bolding sparingly. Too much bold text will not give the proper emphasis that you are looking for.

Bolding phrases and key information is almost certain to get it noticed.

It is good for emphasizing dates, times, and important requirements that need to be highlighted and noticed in a document.

3. Change Size

Changing the font size of text is a way to emphasize text by drawing a lot of attention to a specific word or phrase. You can either make the text larger or smaller than the rest of the text, both of which are sure to get this text noticed. Make sure that the change is noticeable enough that it looks intentional.

Changing the size of the text is a particularly good method for creating headings and other signposts that would be used to separate text. It is less attention-grabbing in this case, as headings are expected to be larger than regular body text.

Use caution when using this one though.  It can throw off the spacing of the section. You may need to alter the kerning (the space between letters) or tracking (the space between words)  to make everything look right.

4. Use Space

Using space is another way to emphasize text. Leaving negative space around text can really place emphasis on the text. Don’t be afraid of leaving negative space.


It draws attention.


Leaving information with a lot of negative space surrounding it will seem more important. The phrase that is separated from the other chunks of text seem more interesting?

Putting more space will be more effective than lessening the space around something, but putting a lot of things close together, closer than expected, can be effective as well. Be very cautious with this though, as it may just appear cluttered if not done right.

5. Add Color

Adding color can certainly draw the eye, especially in a text document that is mainly black text on white paper.

Adding a bit of color for emphasis will break up the usual black on white. Choose your color carefully though. Depending on how much color and emphasis you intend to use, you will want to choose a color that best represents what you are trying to do. Red is good for a punch of emphasis, or if there will be more color used, try a cool color like blue that is less harsh.

Don’t use too many colors though. It will make the color have less of an impact, and no one wants to read text that looks like a rainbow.


Alisa Scott

I’m Alisa Scott, a digital content developer intern for The Visual Communication Guy. I am a communication major with a minor in English. I enjoy visual communication, design, writing, social media, advertising and public relations. Although I’m still undecided on what I want to be when I grow up, I am currently aspiring to work in public relations.