Possible Duplicate:
Usage of italics in writing

“But I was patient. I wrote back. I was sympathetic, I was kind. Ginny simply loved me. No one’s ever understood me like you, Tom...I’m so glad I’ve got this diary to confide in...It’s like having a friend I can carry around in my pocket...” Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (p.309, US edition).

The speaker, Tom Riddle, is a villain in this story. He is boasting how well he could win Ginny’s heart by becoming a kind of pen pal with her.

I understand the latter part is italicized because Tom is mimicking Ginny’s comment. But why is “loved” written in italics? Or, if you were the writer, how would you express the same meaning without italics?

  • 3
    Hi @totoro, have you though about asking this question on the Writers stackexchange? It would probably fit better than here…
    – F'x
    May 13, 2011 at 7:47
  • 2
    In the future, could you please actually italicize the italicized parts? Thank you.
    – RegDwigнt
    May 13, 2011 at 9:10
  • @F’x Thank you for your helpful information! I’ll do that. @RegDwight Oops! Thank you, and sorry for the trouble.
    – user7493
    May 14, 2011 at 0:41
  • @everyone Thank you for your attention and useful discussion!
    – user7493
    May 14, 2011 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


In this context, italic type is being used for emphasis:

  1. Special weight or forcefulness given to something considered important.

  2. Special attention or prominence given to something.

Bold face may also be used for similar effect.

  • Uhm, I don't really agree about the bold being used for the same thing... Usually in books only the italics is used to highlight something, I can't recall ever seeing a word being bold in a book.
    – Alenanno
    May 13, 2011 at 9:09
  • @Alenanno: see also the Wikipedia article on emphasis in typography. May 13, 2011 at 9:22
  • @Alenanno bold may not be used as much classically, but it is certainly widespread.
    – Rory Alsop
    May 13, 2011 at 9:39
  • thanks for the link @Rory: I don't know every book on this Earth, obviously :D but honestly I don't remember ever seeing the bold being used... Maybe italian editors don't use it! lol :D
    – Alenanno
    May 13, 2011 at 9:41