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Old 02-07-2015, 06:19 PM
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Add life to your post-WITH STYLE, by Vort

Originally posted by Vort
Add Life to your Post with Style

Introduction

I have seen very few posts that use basic font settings beyond using bold for speech and italics for thoughts. The purpose of this lecture is to show you how a little time spent on formatting can really liven up your post and add a little depth to your pbp game. The more your post grabs the reader's attention, the more interested they will be in what you have to say. Also, at times a lengthy post can seem daunting to a reader; all that simple, black, uniform text to read almost makes the eyes water.

Unlike speech where it is easy to place emphasis with the use of inflection, in prose, tone must either be set by adding descriptive text or it is left in the hands of the reader to interpret.

Plain TextI will not buy this record, it is scratched.

But it can be difficult to convey the exact tone you're going for when you write plain text. With the formatting tools available here at DnDOG, it doesn't take much to influence how the reader will interpret those words, however:

Examples with StyleI will not buy this record, it is scratched. [Here, the person may buy another, however]
I will not buy this record, it is scratched. [Here, the person is suggesting it should be free]
I will not buy this record, it is scratched. [Here, the person is simply pointing out why they won't buy it]
I will not buy this record, it is scratched. [Here, the person is mildly put off]
I will NOT buy this record!, it is scratched. [Here, the person is obviously angered and peevish]

 

Fonts

Fonts (or typefaces) can easily be used to reflect your character, and make them stand out a little. Once you establish an image of what the character looks like, a well chosen font can help the reader recall that image without always resorting to descriptive text.

ExamplesAn old stodgy font.
Young, bold, hot-headed font.

See this post for a sampler of the different fonts available in most of their glory.

If you have many different characters speaking in your post, instead of using colour to distinguish their speech you can always use font -- it's much more subtle, yet gives visual clues as to who's speaking. Or you can save font use for extraodinary circumstances: the speech of gods and deities, for example. But choose a readable font; just because it's in the list doesn't make it a good font, and reading an entire paragraph in some (like Impact) would be very tiring for the reader.

Strikeout

I've seen this used to good effect, usually to indicate what a character felt or wanted to say versus what they actually did or said. Obviously, it's not something that others' characters can use in-game (just like a character's thoughts), so it really is solely for the reader's benefit (and usually for added humour).

A good example originally posted by Toad`"Usually the halfling was the one to foolishly bravely step forward and act in such a situation."

EmPHAsis

You can use underline, italics, bold and even mixedCASE to add emphasis to your post. If you're already using those styles frequently, however, it becomes difficult to add something that stands out. In that case, just use what you don't normally use: if you don't use underline much, use it to emphasize, and the same goes for italics.

Be careful with italics and bold though; by convention they're used for a character's thoughts and for speech respectively. To add emphasis to speech which is already in bold, use italics or underline. To add emphasis to thoughts which are already in italics, use bold or underline -- but beware that using bold might cause readers to wonder if you're thinking outloud.

Hopefully you are already aware that you shouldn't type exclusively in uppercase. IT'S CONSIDERED YELLING and it gets tiring to read. But it can be used effectively when you WANT TO RAISE your character's voice because it really stands out from the preceeding text.

Colour

A little colour can really make your post stand out. Watch the colour you choose, though, as not everyone has the same page background colour or monitor clarity. The colour should also reflect either the context or the mood of the words you are colouring.

ExampleThe elf was literally green with envy.

Keep colour use to a minimum for two reasons:
  • you'll minimize the chance of having unreadable text
  • you'll make it stand out even more
Some colours are harder to read than others, even with good background text. Limit colour use to short sequences of words, and avoid entire paragraphs in odd colours; it may tire the readers' eyes.

An excellent example by Toad` can be found here.

Font size

Size is an easy way to change the tone of your post.
  • If your character's going to whisper, then he should whisper. [using size=1]
  • If your character's going to yell, then let him YELL!
What's more effective"Stand and deliver!" he yelled with conviction.

- or -

"Stand and deliver!" he boomed.

If your character is a quiet, mousy type, put their speech in size=1 text. Then it's easy to accentuate when they speak up by using normal or oversized text. Similarily, if your character is the brash, overly loud type, use size=3 for their speech as a visual reminder of their loutish behavior.

You can even mix in sizes for great effect:

ExampleHe ran from a room packed full of skeletons: "AAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

As usual, don't overdo it. Some readers may find reading size=1 text difficult or annoying.

Paragraph formatting

Apart from grammar and readability, paragraph formatting can reflect the flow of your post. One use is to indicate a hard break between concepts, thoughts, actions, or characters (for example, if your PC has a follower or hireling who might be acting apart from the PC).

-----

It can also be used to great effect to indicate that time has passed between your paragraphs.

Sound effects

At times, sound effects can replace verbose descriptive text, but do make sure your intention is still clear. Bold, size, and colour are all good sound effect styles.

Example"The bowstring hummed before it broke; but the arrow sailed through the air and struck the ogre in the chest who let out a roar."

-- or --

"Zing! The bowstring hummed; SNAP!, the string broke as the arrow sailed through the air and THWACK!, struck the ogre in the chest. dugidadugidadugida "GWAROAAARRRR!!!""


Don't overdo it

Given the somewhat limited number of ways you can alter the appearance of text, there are seemingly countless permutations of how you can apply them.

Too much formatting, though, can become time consuming and it also takes away from the novelty and can lose its effectiveness. If you try to ultra-format every post you have you'll start to tire of the work involved and the quality of your posts may start to suffer.

Used sparingly, however, a little style added in your own unique way to a post can really make it stand out and bring an excellent post alive.
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