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Bold, italics, underline, and strikethrough

Generally speaking, our practice is to remove all formatting including text that is in bold, italics, underlined, or struck-through. We may consider retaining italics or bold in cases where they are necessary to portray meaning. Underlined and struck-through formatting will rarely be retained, but may sometimes need to be kept if what they convey is necessary to understanding the text. The most common type of text where underline and strikethrough will be retained is in poetry.

If we need to use bold or italics, then we need to use the Styles in the NNELS template, and not direct formatting (via the toolbar). If we need to use strikethrough or underline, this will be one of the rare occasions when we use direct formatting.

Where necessary, you can use the below two styles in the NNELS Template for italics and bold:

  • Emphasis style (italics) - this translates to the <em> tag in XML
  • Strong style (bold) - translates to the <strong> tag in XML


Italicized text can create accessibility barriers for a lot of users who find it difficult to read. Blocks or paragraphs of italicized text are particularly problematic, and italics should be removed from these sorts of sections. In general, italics (or the <em> tag) should be removed unless they are used to convey important meaning, like if the text needs to be vocally stressed, or a change of voice, or tone like a thought, or dream sequence, or a similar divergence from the main narrative. Stage directions (in plays) are another case where we’d use the Emphasis Style. Whenever there is what they call a “semantic significance” behind the emphasis then it would usually be appropriate to retain it.

When in doubt, just ask! There are always different ways italics and emphasis are used in publications, and sometimes it is okay, and sometimes not.

Remove Italics from:

  • paragraphs or blocks of text
  • Full sentences and long phrases
  • titles (books, movies, etc.)

Leave Italics in place when:

  • they are used to convey important meaning:
    • In the sentence “I never said she stole my money.” Depending on which one of the seven words you emphasize, the sentence can have seven different meanings!
    • Stage Directions
    • Thoughts
    • Dream Sequences

Example 1:

"I never said she stole my money."

"I never said she stole my money."

"I never said she stole my money."

and so on.

Example 2:

Emphasis and italics seem to be kinda confusing. Thought the Production Assistant. I am not sure if I should use them in the particular case. I am gonna email the Production Coordinator.

Example 3:

Stage direction example.

Exit, pursued by bear.

There are some cases where the publisher has used Italics/Emphasis for a quotation, a note, or a letter. In these cases clear the style and apply Blockquote (DAISY).


Remove bold from the text unless it conveys important meaning.

Bold text (or the <strong> tag) should only be used to indicate importance, such as when making imperative statements or using signal words like 'warning' and 'alert'.


Underlined text should be removed from the text unless deemed necessary. Underlines often present an accessibility barrier for users and people often confuse the text for links. If underlined text needs to be retained (e.g., in a poem where it conveys important meaning), use direct formatting.

Weirdness note: Sometimes, the conversion process will result in free-floating "underlines", where the individual horizontal lines from under words will be converted into text boxes. These should be removed. If you come across this, and cannot identify and delete them easily, try the Hidden Text Boxes process given here.


If strikethrough text needs to be retained (e.g., in a poem where it conveys important meaning), use direct formatting.

Q: I am editing a poem that uses strikethrough in its original format. Can I recreate this format for the daisy version? Or should I highlight these lines and the format change in an inline producer's note?

A: Good question! In HTML5 we would simply mark the text with a <s> tag; however in DTBook XML they don't have a tag for this. I'd suggest that, for now, we retain the strikethrough in Word (so no producer's note) and see how/if it translates to XML. It may use a <span> tag that links the text to a specific CSS style. We may have to manually edit the XML and create our own CSS style but I'm not sure yet…

WCAG 2.0 - H49: Using semantic markup to mark emphasized or special text

public/nnels/etext/bold-italics-underline-strikethrough.1567531449.txt.gz · Last modified: 2019/09/03 10:24 by rachel.osolen