I was wondering whether it is considered impolite to highlight sections of one's questions or answers in boldface. In my opinion, suitably applied, it can increase the readability of an answer, but I'm not sure whether other people consider it as too indecent or offensive.

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    $\begingroup$ $$\Large\textbf{If you don't overdo it, it's fine.}$$ $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jan 22, 2014 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ I usually limit the boldface to one or two words for emphasis. Any more seems like yelling, to me. However, we're all used to Asaf yelling ;-) $\endgroup$
    – robjohn Mod
    Jan 22, 2014 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to what others have said, please don't highlight text (or use any formatting) in titles. It's unfair to other questions on the homepage. $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2014 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ @AymanHourieh: Is it even possible to do that? (As you can see I've tried it with the title and it didn't work.) $\endgroup$
    – Dominik
    Jan 22, 2014 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ It is possible using $\TeX$. $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2014 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ @robjohn: Yelling is caps; boldface and large fonts is [very] stern tone. $\textbf{BUT YOU ARE RIGHT. OF COURSE.}$ $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jan 23, 2014 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ I have no problem with using bold in longish posts where I might want to divide, say, my answer to an inductive proof by **Base**<blah blah> and then after a blank line **Induction**<more blather>. That can't possibly offend anyone, IMO. $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2014 at 2:03
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    $\begingroup$ @RickDecker: though I would personally suggest using the built-in sectioning commands for MarkDown. You can do as in HTML and enclose section titles in <h1>...</h1> (or use the <h2> or <h3> variants if you think the font for <h1> is too big); or you can type a few horizontal dashes immediately underneath the section heading for the same effect. $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2014 at 10:23
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    $\begingroup$ Or put number signs in front. More number signs make smaller headings. $\endgroup$
    – dfeuer
    Jan 27, 2014 at 7:49

2 Answers 2



This most glorious answer will demonstrate correct usage for great justice and the good of all the empire, from this day forth.

Appropriate use of bold text

Bold text, or more precisely <strong> text, should be strictly limited to key points that may otherwise be glossed over.

Appropriate use of italic text

Italic text, or more precisely <em> text, is text deserving of some emphasis but that does not have to leap off the page and sock the reader in the eye. Some people find italics difficult to read. These people should use custom stylesheets for their browsers to make emphasized text display differently.

Appropriate use of block quotes

Block quotes are best used to actually quote some text someone else wrote, but the unfortunate limits of Markdown on MSE force us to use them for other purposes as well, such as

indenting text to

multiple levels.

Appropriate use of preformatted text

Because it is generally hard to read, preformatted text
should be used in strict moderation. It is not bad for
showing source code, and it can handle simple tables in a pinch.

Appropriate use of MathJax to format text

It is appropriate to include text in MathJax if it is part of the mathematics or if it is a small textual fragment of a display. $$S=\{x:\text{$x$ is not prime}\}.\quad \text{Thus:}\quad S\ne \Bbb C.$$


I don't see anything offensive in highlighting a sentence using bold and agree that highlighting some key points in a long post increases readability, but, IMHO,

highlighting an important sentence using > (blockquote) looks better,

and bold (again, IMHO) better be reserved for highlighting just a word or two.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, as you point out by using it, italicizing will often be a good alternative when you just need emphasis. $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2014 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Tobias Well, yes. But the difference is whether you want local emphasis (visible for someone reading the sentence) or global (visible already when looking at the whole text) $\endgroup$
    – Grigory M
    Jan 23, 2014 at 8:31

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