Re: Readers confused by italics?

Subject: Re: Readers confused by italics?
From: Bruce Byfield <byfield -at- SFU -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 11:46:05 -0700

I think that how readers react to italics depends partly on what
font is being used. For example, Helvetica italics can differ so slightly
from the rest of the text that many readers miss them or assume that the
printing's faulty. Some thin-lined serif fonts, such as Baskerville, can
produce the same reactions. However, in general, I suspect, readers are
less likely to be confused by serif italics than sans serif ones.
It's also my impression that italics are gradually being used
less in software manuals, and are being replaced by boldface. And
several technical writing textbooks and teachers I've come across seem to
discourage the use of italics on the grounds that they're hard to read.
As for readers whose native language does not use the Roman
alphabet, I write for a local computer paper which always publishes a few
pages in Chinese. Whenever an English technical term is used, on these
pages, it's boldfaced.

> Has anyone else ever encountered readers who were confused by
> italics, particularly readers whose native language does not use the
> Roman alphabet?

Bruce Byfield (byfield -at- -dot- sfu -dot- ca)
Burnaby, B. C. Canada (604) 421-7189
Freelance Editor & Technical Writer

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