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Styling Caution: The Drawbacks of Fake Bold, Italics, and Small Caps

What are fake texts?

You might have seen on various platforms things written with fake fonts (faux italics/bold/cursive/etc.):

π—§π—΅π—Άπ˜€ π˜π—²π˜…π˜ π—Άπ˜€ 𝗢𝗻 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱

π˜›π˜©π˜ͺ𝘴 𝘡𝘦𝘹𝘡 π˜ͺ𝘴 π˜ͺ𝘯 π˜ͺ𝘡𝘒𝘭π˜ͺ𝘀𝘴

π’―π’½π’Ύπ“ˆ 𝓉𝑒𝓍𝓉 π’Ύπ“ˆ 𝒾𝓃 π’Έπ“Šπ“‡π“ˆπ’Ύπ“‹π‘’

π•Ώπ–π–Žπ–˜ π–™π–Šπ–π–™ π–Žπ–˜ π–šπ–˜π–Žπ–“π–Œ 𝖆 π–˜π–•π–Šπ–ˆπ–Žπ–†π–‘ 𝖋𝖔𝖓𝖙1

α΄›ΚœΙͺs ᴛᴇxα΄› Ιͺs ΙͺΙ΄ sα΄α΄€ΚŸΚŸ α΄„α΄€α΄˜s

When you Google "fake italics generator", you'll get quite a few tools.

So what's the issue?

Well, there are a few– the first is the difficulty of viewing and editing such texts.Β 

Depending on the device and software you use to display a text in faux italics/bold/etc., the text might not show. Instead, there might be strange characters or a blank box. Even if it is correctly displayed, if you try and copy & paste such text into an editor, it's not guaranteed you’ll be able to manipulate it, for instance, the bold text is always bold (you can't just easily remove this formatting). Additionally, doing spellcheck on a text written like this can be challenging.

Another place where issues are caused is the SEO aspect. Sometimes, people write the most critical elements in faux bold text - we've seen situations where the event name and speakers were the elements written in faux bold. The most significant search engines (Google, Bing) might understand what bold text refers to at some point, but keep in mind that there are a lot of search engines on the market, as such, there might be issues with correctly searching for texts that are written unconventionally.

Finally, one could argue that the faux bold/italics don't look as good as a text written "naturally," but this is a matter of preference as is the assertion that faux bold/italic texts are more challenging to read, depending on the context.

What are the alternatives?

The simplest solution is to check that your platform has a native option for bold and italics.Β 

Another option is to use general characters and CAPS (like this: *** TITLE ***) to attract attention to the most essential elements in a text.

You can always format your text in a way that naturally attracts attention. Using short paragraphs, bullet points, separating paragraphs with empty lines, and leaving a space before a heading/subheading, are all tactics that help create easy-to-understand texts.


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