Wednesday, August 29, 2012


After some forty years of subscribing to Time Magazine I’m thinking of cancelling. Why? Maybe I’m alone in this, but I hate the fact they’re now printing a lot of their articles in red ink, or worse, light blue. Have they not heard that people are getting older--especially people who are likely to still subscribe to magazines--and their eyesight isn’t what it used to be? Sure, the magazine pages are varied and colorful--sometimes they put a square of orange under an article, but I want to read the content, not admire the d... thing.

I’ve always believed in the saying, “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.” Cloning people comes to mind, but that’s a different topic.


I love my e-mail but now people are sending me messages in color, especially that light blue. Blue letters against the off-white background are very hard to read, especially if they use a ten-point font. Studies have shown that black on white is the easiest print to read. Except for black on yellow. Why do you think STOP and other street signs are black on yellow?

Have you ever seen Closed Captioning on your TV set? Have you noticed they use white letters on a black background? That’s because the contrast is better. In fact, you may not know it, but you can get white printing on a black background on your computer screen and when you click on it, it says, “high contrast.”

Back in the computer dark ages, 1980 or so, computer screens--like the original Ford cars--came in only one color, black. However, you could get colored printing, white, amber or green. We bought our first PC before IBM even had one and I chose white on black. And still do. All my novels and letters to friends are written that way. And then my computer prints them in black on white. And, don’t send a book to a publisher on colored paper.


Another study has told us that. among fonts, italics is harder to read. Yet, in the past few years, romance novels make increasing use of italics, usually in a character’s thought, also known as “interior monologue.”

I was taught that italics were used only for the following:
1. To emphasize a word. Example, “You talking to me?”
2. For foreign words. Example: Mon Dieu
3. For Titles of books, magazines, films or TV shows
4. To reproduce a letter within a story or novel.

The Chicago Manual of Style Online Edition lists twenty-one uses for italics and none of them are, “for thoughts.”

At one of my very first writers conferences, at least thirty years ago, a best-selling author and teacher (I think it was Dwight Swain) said, substantially, “A long time ago, writers put thoughts in quotation marks. Then they put them in italics. But today, we just write them. If you’re in the character’s viewpoint, whatever you write is obviously his thought.”

So spare your readers and skip the unnecessary italics.

I’d follow the rules here, but Blogger doesn’t print in italics.

Time Magazine
Chicago Manual of Style
Dwight Swain


  1. Why use a ten point? I use one that fits my font for email. I use Comic Sans and a 14 point font with dark purple. I love color. I was one of the high school kids that got in trouble for writing papers using Flair pens. Purple, brown, red, yellow, all shades of blue. I HATE black ink, I prefer colored. But that's my I'd write in a rainbow if it would fly lol. I have flipped my writing screen dark blue background with white letters versus the black on white and here in TX stop signs are red with white letters. Understand your frustration maybe bigger fonts and BOLD is cool it helps. I like bolded stuff. But I am strange :-)(Kathy)

    1. Kathy: No, I don't use ten point but some people e-mailing me do. I use 14 pt for e-mails. You're right,stop signs are red,but other street directional signs are usually black on yellow. I've seen your e-mails and like your bold colors. That was the whole point - making it easy to read. I like the white letters on dark blue and your fancy fonts too. Thanks so much for commenting.


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