asterisks as bold or italic? (another push)

Jelks Cabaniss jelks at
Tue Mar 30 15:40:33 EST 2004

Timothy Binder wrote:
> I also feel that *emphasis* is stronger than _emphasis_. Just on a
> visual basis, "*" is larger & stronger than "_". Looking at a
> paragraph with both, the *asterisked* word jumps out at you, whereas
> the _underlined_ word is more subtle, at least to me. This, too,
> directly corresponds with the difference between boldface and
> italics. Boldface tends to interrupt the flow of the text and jump
> out at the reader, whereas italics are a more subtle emphasis.

Except that at least as of the last few years, "normal" emphasis is
*primarily* indicated in emails with asterisks.  Sure, some people still do
it with _underscores_  -- I used to myself some years ago.  But look at most
email lists and newsgroup posts today -- they're not doing a one-on-one
mapping of codes to formatting as italics and/or bold, they're just

I adjusted *once*, so I suppose it wouldn't be that difficult to adjust
_back_, but personally I think John has it right, especially when using
email as the model: asterisks (or underscores) for *emphasis*, double up for
**strong emphasis**.

Either way, there's going to be *some* folks having to adjust.  :)


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