I was edit­ing a paper for a uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent this week, and I noticed the title of a pub­li­ca­tion was under­lined. Under­lin­ing titles was once the norm. Today, I rec­om­mend against it.

I high­ly sug­gest avoid­ing under­lin­ing as empha­sis if at all pos­si­ble. The use of under­lin­ing to indi­cate links on web­sites has expro­pri­at­ed this for­mat­ting style. This has become so ingrained that users assume any under­lined text is auto­mat­i­cal­ly a link.

Nev­er use under­lin­ing for empha­sis online. Even offline (in print), I’d sug­gest replac­ing it with ital­ics.

As well, if your copy is going to an edi­tor, your under­lin­ing may indi­cate edi­to­r­i­al changes, and it could con­fuse your edi­tor and you.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness. Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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