When people ask, answer, or comment, why must they keep using "Emphasis mine"? The section is bolded or otherwise emphasized so I feel that the statement is completely wasted. Am I missing some reason why it is used so often?

  • 14
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 because this is an important thing for anyone to learn when citing. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Oct 18, 2016 at 20:51
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ It means this is my emphasis. You can't have any. :) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 26, 2016 at 13:53

2 Answers 2


We say “emphasis mine” alongside a quoted passage where some part of the original text has been bolded/italicised, in order to indicate that the emphasis is not found in the original, but was in fact added by us. It's shorthand for “I added the emphasis here myself”.

We do this because emphasis in different places can change the meaning of writing, so it's important to note that any meaning read into the choice of emphasis is just part of us trying to highlight something, not some meaning that should be read into the original writing.

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ So basically its referring to a small change that you have made to the quote. That actually helps a fair bit, thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Oct 17, 2016 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. It ranges from "wildly inappropriate," to "career-endingly unethical," depending on the venue, to change anything at all about an original quotation you're attributing to someone else, without being very clear about what you've done and why. The "emphasis mine" is standard, and serves a similar purpose to an ellipsis. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Oct 18, 2016 at 13:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ See this one for a great example of how one sentence has 8 different meanings depending on the emphasis: english.stackexchange.com/questions/258653/… \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeP
    Oct 28, 2016 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MikeP Well, seven different meanings. Nobody ever established what the heck meaning 4 meant, and I don't think it means anything. :) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2016 at 16:36

It's a common English writing convention. “Emphasis mine” means that the emphasis was added by the person using the quotation. This is as opposed to “emphasis original”, which is used to indicate that the emphasis is part of the original quote, not added by the later quote-user.

Like bracketing changes, inserting ellipses, and using sic, indicating who is responsible for the emphasis in a quotation is a way of preserving the integrity of the original quote and establishing the bounds of the accuracy of the quote.

  • 16
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, this isn't some RPG.SE convention, it's a standard quoting technique. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Oct 17, 2016 at 20:56

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