General Writing and Grammar Help/Using bold AND italic


QUESTION: Hello there,

I'm proofreading and editing my novel and I have a few questions.

Firstly, about inward thoughts. I have written characters' inward thoughts in italic and bold but now I think they should just be in italics. I guess the bold and italic was just a personal stamp of mine but I'm not sure if it is actually accepted or correct to use there. When I use emphasis for the bold/italic inward dialogue I take off the italic from the word I'm emphasizing and leave it just bold.

When is it okay to use bold italic in writing?

Is this form of inward thought emphasizing wrong or just not used? Would it be accepted by publishers if I were to present it to them?

I also wanted to confirm, when I write inward dialogue I tend to put it on a separate line, (though I say who is thinking it) but that is not right is it? The inward dialogue should be on the same line as the person speaking it, correct?

I also wanted to know when is it correct to use hyphens? I tend to use them a bit like brackets though I can't really say how I choose between the two. I sometimes think in novels that brackets look a bit messy or immature in certain places.

My problem is in the past, when I didn't know the correct way to use the above mentioned, I used bold/italic, put the thoughts on a separate line and used hyphens simply for aesthetic reasons. I want to know if grammatically, they are right or wrong to use?

Warm Regards,


ANSWER: Hekko Lou

Thanks for your question.

The use of italics to show interior thought is very rare.

Bold is NEVER used

I would suggest you discard these devices and let the text speak for itself.

Have a look at how great writers have done this in the past - study the work of these writers

Henry James  -

Joseph Conrad  -

Virginia Woolf -

A publisher would almost certainly not accept the use of italics or bold in the way you describe.

The same is true of hyphens

Here is a guidance note on how to use them

If you want to get publishers and their readers and editors to take your writing seriously, you should stick to the conventional means of presenting text.

Hope that helps - and it's too stuffy an answer.

Best wishes

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: It wasn't stuffy at all! You do know you wrote hekko instead of hello though right? :)

I have actually seen italic used for inner dialogue often and also without any emphasis, just never with both bold and italic so I will definitely change that thank you!

When I said hyphen I actually meant a dash. Like this - which is supposedly used to show a break in a sentence like a change in thought. That is when I have used it. So what is the difference between using a dash and using brackets? They are both breaks in a sentence, connected to the topic but not. I read about it here:



ANSWER: HeLLo Lou (sorry about the typos)

Technically, there isn't much difference between the use of curved brackets and pairs of m-dashes.

Though the m-dash can be used singly - to suggest an afterthought

At this level of detail you should be looking at style guides.

Each type of publication has its own house style - including publishers of fiction.

I hope that helps

Best wishes


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi again Roy,

Another two questions for you.

When inner dialogue is on a desperate paragraph do you place it like normal dialogue or o you indent it?


That's creep, she thought.
         That's creepy, she thought.

I don't know if you'll know the answer but I the novel I'm proofreading is already published on amazon and when I've finished editing it I want to replace the old copy with the polished copy. Will that make the new polished copy a second edition or will it remain a first edition?


1. There is no convention of putting interior monologue on separate lines or paragraphs. You will have to indicate it's status within the text itself.

2. Minor alterations of this kind do not constitute a new edition - so, no, keep it as your first edition.

Hope that helps.

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Roy Johnson


I can answer questions on English language, grammar, writing skills, and study skills. I am particularly experienced in the writing skills required for academic essays, term papers, reports, dissertations, and post-graduate theses.


I have forty years experience as a tutor and as the author of books on writing and study skills. For thirty years I was a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association, which specialises in courses for adult students and preparing mature students for university. I was also a tutor for the Open University between 1975 and 2010. During that time I have also written a number of books on writing and study skills. In the last ten years or more I have specialised in creating computer-aided learning materials and online learning courses.

"Making the Grade" (Manchester University Press) 1990 "Studying Fiction" (Manchester University Press) 1991 "Marking Essays" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Revision and Examinations" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Writing Essays" (Clifton Ress) 1996 "Study Skills" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Electronic Writing" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Improve your Writing Skills" (Clifton Press) 2010 "Writing Essays 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "English Language 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "Study Skills 2.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program]

My first degree was in mechanical engineering (HNC). I then switched to literary studies and philosophy. My second degree was a BA in English and American Literature (from Manchester University - UK). I also have an MA in Comparative Literary Studies, and my doctoral thesis (PhD) was in the relationship between literature and politics.

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