Punctuation

Q. To emphasize a word in the narrative (not dialog), is it acceptable to use italics or should I use “quotation marks”? Also, can a question mark and an exclamation point be combined (?!) to emphasize the question, i.e., “Are you calling me a liar?!” Thanks!

A. Chicago style discourages the use of italics for emphasis and forbids multiple punctuation; both are rarely appropriate in scholarly writing. Quotation marks do not usually indicate emphasis. Rather, they indicate irony or double entendre, both of which are also discouraged in academic publishing. Even in fiction, such tricks may be taken as a sign of hack writing. Try to convey emphasis through phrasing, rather than with typographic bells and whistles. You will be surprised how much more quietly powerful writing can be with all the exclamation points removed. Try to reserve those marks for shouting.