I'm not pointing about any users, but there are a few I know that like bolding things in questions. Is there a specific reason to do this?

Readability is the largest reason I have heard. However, I do not see a good reason to do this. The edits to seem trivial and do not really add anything to the post.

What is the etiquette for bolding stuff?

Bolding/Italicizing I've noticed:

  • (B) Question in post

  • (B) Info in post

  • (I) Info in post
  • (I) Tech specs

While these seem to be good things to post, they already stand out quite a bit. Why emphacize it even more? Also, this kind of allows people to not read by ONLY looking for the bold bits. As a result, a lot of important details are missed. And as such, the answers don't help. Quality of answers goes down. And because answers aren't good, the questions will become fewer. With fewer questions, AU won't be the same!

What is even more disturbing is that the review queue likes accepting this.

  • 2
    Easy +2 rep I guess. Aug 30, 2014 at 10:04
  • So why do the review queues even accept this?
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Aug 30, 2014 at 10:07
  • 4
    If you see these edits, reject them!
    – Seth
    Aug 30, 2014 at 15:23
  • @Seth I do. I'm surprised others don't.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Aug 30, 2014 at 17:31
  • Hey, look at the bright side, at least is not random code blocks D:.
    – Braiam
    Sep 1, 2014 at 2:06
  • 2
    For the same reason that you used caps?
    – FairMiles
    Sep 5, 2014 at 0:29
  • Mmmm, sometimes bolding is used to meet the six character edit minimum. If I see a word mispelled, for me its fine to correct it. If only 5 characters are editted though, I'll look for a way to improve the post. I don't see what the big deal behind farming rep though is presuming it at least improves the quality of the post some how.
    – Anon
    Sep 5, 2014 at 1:27
  • Why do people use CAPS in their posts? I mean...
    – don.joey
    Sep 8, 2014 at 6:43

2 Answers 2


It is a profession of its own to create comfortably readable posts. The trick is to create a hierarchical structure in which information is ordered/grouped in subsections that make sense somehow. The most common mistakes (not only on this site, but in text in general) are:

  1. Making too many sub levels without a binding header

  2. Drawing attention to relatively unimportant details, making it compete with the comprehensive concept of the post.


That is why I REALLY find all those posts with randomly bolded text quite awfull. And like you I am pretty surprised those edits are approved many times.

  • 2
    I agree that if it's for very important and easy-to-miss stuff, bolding is very very good. But not everyone knows or cares about what kind of computer you use.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Aug 30, 2014 at 9:00
  • I also hate the italics code
    – Tim
    Aug 30, 2014 at 9:00
  • 1
    @Tim I used it very rarely, but only if it was part of an italicized paragraph.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Aug 30, 2014 at 9:02
  • Yes, that's fine but just adding italics to code like I did ^^... rage...
    – Tim
    Aug 30, 2014 at 9:05
  • 4
    @Tim Italicizing, bolding, or both on code is useful as an annotation to indicate it's a metasyntactic variable or otherwise a particularly likely candidate for substitution. For example, in this post, I italicized "file" and "command" when they stood for something other than themselves. I believe this sometimes particularly improves readability and can even decrease technical ambiguity. When I say an error will be like bash: file: Is a directory and I italicize just file (I can't do that in this comment, but I can in a post), I really think that helps. Aug 30, 2014 at 9:17
  • 1
    @EliahKagan How do you do that mid-code? I was never able to do that.
    – Kaz Wolfe
    Aug 30, 2014 at 9:23
  • 4
    @Whaaaaaat You have to use some HTML, to apply mid-code formatting. (Limited HTML is supported in posts but not comments, which was why I wasn't able to show its appearance in my comment.) For inline code, replace markdown backticks (`) with <code> and </code>--then * and ** will format as italics and bold. For code blocks, use <pre><code> and </code></pre> around the whole block instead of indenting each line 4 spaces; then HTML formatting tags like <em>/</em>, <strong>/</strong>, <i>/</i>, and <b>/</b> tags will work. Aug 30, 2014 at 9:34

Text doesn't usually benefit from bold or italics just because it's technical specs, or proper names. Headings (i.e., section titles within an answer) benefit from bold but this is taken care of automatically when you make them headings by starting them off with ###, ##, or # markdown (depending on how big you want it to appear).

So you're probably right about these edits not being very good... but to know for sure, I think you'd have to link to some examples.

This is not to say that bold and italics cannot be used for good purposes. I use them in many of my answers, and while I think I may have occasionally gone overboard with them, for the most part I think I've used them well.

One purpose of bold is to call attention to particularly important points. Another is to help people navigate through the post or know what part of it they may want to come back to later. Remember, Ask Ubuntu doesn't facilitate linking to a particular part of a single post. When bold (or italics) helps express the logic or structure an author is trying to convey, and when it compliments good writing rather than substituting for it, it can be a very good thing. And some edits that add bold are good, too.

But I have also seen edits adding bold and italics, where my reaction is similar to yours, and I wonder if there's really any benefit.

Occasionally I've edited a post to put something in bold (while making no, or hardly any, other edits). I don't do this often, and when I do it's been to highlight something that's leading some people to seriously misunderstand the post. Most of the times I've done this, it's been for short but potentially valuable answers getting flagged as not-an-answer by reviewers not reading them carefully enough to see they really do say what to do to solve the problem. (When a post is genuinely unclear but can be improved through editing, a rewording is better. But when people are just misunderstanding it, a bit of bold can help sometimes.)

You're right that if a suggested edit doesn't really make a post more readable and does not otherwise add anything to it, it's not a good edit. The best thing to do when reviewing such an edit is to reject it.

Regarding your point at the end about answer quality: I don't know if overuse or non-helpful use of bold is actually leading to poorer reading of questions and worse answers. My guess is that if it is, it's only doing so a very little bit. But either way, if an edit doesn't make a post better at all, it's not a good edit.


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