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Best Practice: Dialogue Formatting Standards

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Best Practice: Dialogue Formatting Standards

When we’re writing dialogue, we should start writing it as it will appear in the game. When a game doesn’t have full VO, the way the dialogue is formatted can go a long way in selling tone, emphasis, mood, and player direction. These things can all be accomplished with a mix of bold text, italicized text, text color, and animation. The formatting is simple and is as follows:


Bold text raises the intensity of what a character is saying. This is pretty much only used if a character is shouting something. An example would be:

Gus: Dancing?! DANCING?!

The second time Gus says the word “Dancing” it is bolded to show the raise in intensity of the repeated phrase.


Using italics is a good way to add a little extra emphasis to what someone is saying without raising the intensity in which they are saying. If someone makes a quip, insult, or maybe just an observation with a little extra emphasis behind what they are saying we would use italics. An example would be:

Gus: I mean that performance, you blockhead!

Shift: Oh that? That wasn’t a performance. This is a performance.

The words “blockhead” and “This” are both italicized in order to add a little extra emphasis to those words alone. That will lead the player to internalize how the characters are talking a little more accurately.

Text Color

Text color is used for hey phrases and words in the dialogue that will be important to the player. These would be things like button prompts, the location that a player needs to travel to, or the first time a character’s name is said in the game. Here are examples of each:

Character Name:

Bigby: What’s your name, kid?

Shift: You can call me Shift.

Player Instructions:

Watch the pitcher for his windup so you know when the ball is coming.

You’ll move the aiming reticle with the left stick. Match it up with the ball indicator so that your swing is accurate.

Hold down A to charge, then release to swing.

Location Name:

Gus: Well I hope you’re nice and cozy now, buster.

You keep playing like that, and we won’t even make it to Fort Fin, let alone the pennant.


When formatting the text, use underlines to denote when the text should be animated. The way the text is animated is that each letter of the underlined phrase will jitter up and down ( This can be great to emphasise a worried or afraid tone in a character’s voice, or be combined with a smaller font size to show a character muttering something under their breath. An example of the latter would be:

Gus: You flea-bitten, dry-nosed sonuvab-

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