I am wondering if I can or should take a bit of stylistic license and italicize just part of a word:

He took a sharp turn back into a side street, and collided hard with something that sent him sprawling to the ground. He scrambled to his feet as he realized that the it wasn’t something he had collided with, it was someone.

Maybe there is a better way to do this. Thoughts?

  • 2
    I changed the asterisks to actual italic tags and did what you were trying to accomplish. Oct 7, 2011 at 15:16
  • 1
    I believe I have seen this done by gasp actual published authors. So yeah, use as applicable. As with anything, don't overuse, terms and conditions apply, may cause drowsiness and contents occasionally settle in transit. ;)
    – One Monkey
    Oct 7, 2011 at 18:52
  • @LaurenIpsum how did you do that? I've tried that here and failed. Apr 29, 2012 at 6:54
  • How did I do what, change the tags? I used < i >thing< / i> (minus the spaces). Apr 29, 2012 at 13:14

4 Answers 4


Yes, this is OK, as it allows you to emphasise certain things, that you want the readers to notice. In your example, that the character has collided with another person. By putting it in Italics, you are also letting the reader know this person is important, and may play a role later.

A word of warning- don't overuse this technique( as with any technique). It can get tiring soon, and loses it's effect.


I believe this is perfectly acceptable and does a good job of emphasising your point. I've seen this done before and it works stylistically.


Yep, works for me. You're reproducing a speech pattern in which part of the word is emphasized.


Salinger does it a ton in Catcher in the Rye - hence the very reason I found my way to this site/link discussion this matter - as I wanted to know more about it....

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