Where to Use Only

When speaking, we commonly put only near the beginning of the sentence and then stress the word or phrase that it applies to. Unfortunately, far too many people use exactly the same approach when writing and don't have any way of stressing the target.

One might write: I only went there because of the money.

But does that mean:

The person writing the sentence knows what they mean. And if they read it aloud, they will naturally stress the appropriate word. But anyone else reading the sentence can not be sure which of the possible meanings was intended. Perhaps there is enough context that the reader will be able to figure out what was intended, but even so, it slows the reader down, causes confusion, and most importantly make the reader aware of the writing process.

When writing, one must not produce ambiguous sentences.

This is exactly what the <em> tag was intended for in HTML, and where available that mechanism (or whatever is available in other text formatters) should be used to resolve any ambiguous use of only.

Better yet, unless it sounds especially awkward, when writing one should place the only in the least ambiguous spot: