Effective Online Communication

How NOT to Use Bold Type...

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How NOT to Use Bold Type...

Bolding the odd word or phrase can help skim readers catch key ideas you don’t want them to miss. It’s also great for SEO. But in order to preserve impact, use bold words sparingly.

It’s tempting to use bold type to emphasize the important parts of your copy. But if you’re writing concisely (which of course you are!), then everything you’re writing should already be important. This often leads to over-bolding.

If you bold entire sentences, or worse — paragraphs, you’re likely to defeat the purpose of bolding for skim reading. In fact, extreme over-bolding can easily draw more attention to the un-bolded words. Not very helpful.

Instead, reserve bolding for words that carry pivotal weight in your narrative, particularly those that may get attention because they are either surprising, compelling, or emotional.

You can get away with bolding an entire sentence for impact, but only if the rest of your content is relatively bold-free by comparison.

As a rule of thumb, the more sparingly you use bold type, the more it will stand out. If you’re unsure, aim to bold no more than 5-10% of your words (that’s one bold word for every ten, max).

From: Formatting for skim readers: essential tips

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Karen Nilsen

Hi there! I’m Karen. I’m on a mission to reach my former self. Had I known 10 years ago what I know today, I could have achieved more good, made fewer mistakes, and had more weekends. Every time we share what works, we win faster. Let’s create digital experiences that move people — that grow our base and fuel our movements. Are you with me? Please share this with someone you know who wants to up their digital game!

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