1.14 Overuse of italics Rewrite: 1


i fucking hate writing ...
Staff member
This is really a specific example of legability, buut a common one. Does it go in whitespace, bullets, or it that about comprehension and this is about legability? Which also has application to map keys.

It seems obvious, but the choices you make in your design impact legibility. The DM actually needs to be able to comprehend the words on the page in order to understand them. This is not a binary process of Can Read and Can't Read, but rather an appeal to ease of use. How easily can the DM read the text? Common legibility concerns come revolve around three areas. Long sections of italics are hard to read/hard on the eyes. Maps need notations, both numbers, lettering and features, that the DM can make out very easily. Finally, there is a difference between PDF's and print, especially with regard to background text images that your text appears over. Especially. Fucking. Yello.

Fonts relate to legability. You need to be careful when selecting them; Comic Sans is a meme for a reason. [Stick in some research commentary.]

A single word or two in Comic Sans is not like to cause issues. As with bolding, a font change or size change can help call attention to a phrase or keyword. it's the main font selection of the adventure that revelent, for that you should select a font that's easy to read. This is not something to worry about as long as you keep to the more mainstream choices, but there are two specific use cases to watch out for. Or, perhaps, once general case with those specific use cases: the special DM text. This most commonly appears as the read-aloud text in the adventure, and sometimes as a handout. This sort of special DM text has a tendency to appear in some special font choice: it's common to use italics for read-aloud and some cursive fonts for special hand-outs, like a diary page or some such. Feel free to make a handout, meant for the players, in a special cursive font, etc. Part of the fun of a handout is in puzzling it out! But, if the text is meant for the DM, meaning if it's reproduced for the DM in their section of the adventure, then it should NOT be in cursive, etc. It needs to be in a format that the DM can absorb quickly. Likewise read-aloud. It's common for read-aloud to be formatted in italics text. Long sections of italics are hard to read and read-aloud, even in three-sentence form, qualifies as "long sections of text." A word or short phrase, highlighted via italics, is fine. But when the text becomes a sentence, or multiple sentences, then something else besides italics needs to be turned to. Starting the paragraph with "Read Aloud:", or offsetting it, or placing it in a (lightly) shaded box are all good alternatives.

Map legibility is another issue to watch out for. This is most prevalent in hand-drawn maps. Just ensure that rooms key numbers, the map features and terrain, and the walls, etc, can be easily made out the DM. Struggling to read the map is no fun.

Finally there is the issue of the background image. This is most commonly and issue with the fancy templates provided by places like DMsGuild, etc. These sometimes have background images on the page that add visual interest to the page. The Visual Interest isn't the issue with these, but sometimes they, rather perplexingly, contain elements that detract from legability. It's not uncommon for section of the background image to, for example, contains large sections of yellow. The black text of the adventure, when overlaid on this, becomes hard to read. Why do they do this? Just like the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world will never know. Watch out for it with your own background imagery.
Last edited:


Should be playing D&D instead
Should probably roll it into something about "Writing Conventions" or "Good Writing Habits" or whatever. I don't think you could get much more elaborate text from "Italics should be used sparingly, because they're harder to read"