Is there a rule against which markdown codes are allowed in formatting text for easy reading? It's my impressing that a lot of text that is displayed that isn't code is displayed using code tags to control the way it's output.

Is it alright for me to say, I have these four items, apples, oranges, peaches, and pears to choose from. When it's a list of items that I hope to stand out rather than code that someone will execute?

I have studied a lot of details of markdown and am still studying how to make my messages easy to read. I'm learning new things every day. I even go back and edit many of my previous messages as I learn.

But looking at a recent edit and not on the edit purpose, it appears to be suggesting that I can't use the backtick for formatting when it's not code.

Losing this as an option, will make my messages even harder for me to review when checking for adequacy.

I'm asking question for input because of a recent edit of one of this answer:

Which says: Please don't use code formatting for emphasis

First I really appreciate people taking the time to help make my answers (as well as all all the other answers on SE) easy to read. But some of the changes as in the case of revision #4 of that particular message, makes my reading it substantially more time consuming and requiring more effort.

I can tell that many of our users go far in trying to make their messages easy to read. They add pictures, when sometimes I think the text would be easier.

I often try to put lots of white spaces in my messages, when some people try not to use white spaces and put what I consider too much into one paragraph.

Thanks in advance for comments from others on permission for using the code formatting markdown feature for readability.

Update with examples:

My original question was concerning the rules on emphasis. I appreciate the response to perspective of my question. However, most of the focus was "understandably" about emphasis. I used the word emphasis because of the note that was attached to the answer I linked in my question.

However, I was not using the backticks as for emphasis. I was using it the way the examples in the photos below.

To me there is a difference, and I agree with the consensus about the emphasis. To me (and concerning my writing and speaking style), emphasizing something is to stress it. Defining and separating something as in, keywords, is different. I understand that my keyword specification may not have been clear to the some. But that was the reason for the way I used the formatting, to specify my intentions with the words. It wasn't my intentions for the words to stand out and be spoken louder. It was my intention for the keywords to be read as in a special definitive manner.

My intentions with the formating was to format the way you see the formating in the images below. The red arrows are pointing to targets items that are specified in the manner of my intentions. They are not specified to be emphasized or yelled out.

Example 1:


Example 2:


Example 3:


Example 4:


Example 5:


  • 2
    Using code formatting for emphasis can be confusing, because most users expect those to be code or code-like elements.
    – Anwar
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 14:58
  • I don't understand how it would be so confusing. They don't see the markdown code that was used. The only thing that see when viewing the message is text that looks different. Look at the tags. They are formatted to look different. It might be something wrong with my eyes, but the tag formatting just above the share edit close delete flag looks the same way the text that I separate in my message. It's not confusing. It's showing me the text is set apart and different from the text above it. That was my intentions in my message. Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:18
  • Certainly something wrong with your browser or your eyes. Text in code formatting uses monospace fonts, so there is no mistaking the output; that is not how those options are displayed in any of the browsers I commonly use (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, across Arch Linux, OSX and Windows).
    – muru
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:34
  • It appears that I may seeing and the browsers that I'm using maybe functioning correctly. You have described the way I wanted the text to be output. It was my intentions to also have not only the font different, but the background different also. I have recently been experimenting with html to help in my formatting, but haven't found something that presents intent in the cases where I used the backticks as well as they display. Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:48
  • 1
    @L.D.James Consider the <strong> and <em> tags (**...** and *...* in markdown, respectively).
    – muru
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:51
  • 1
    I see my question was votged down. I accept the opinions of our members to vote down my question as not having any value. But I believe the ones feeling the question should be voted down might consider that might have been some value of bringing the issue to the table for discussion. If nothing else it might be a thread that could suggest alternates and the problematic reason for disallowing it. Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:53
  • Having a different background colour might be desirable, but it's not something the standard emphasising elements have in SE's styles, and misusing code formatting for that is not appropriate.
    – muru
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:53
  • @muru Thanks for the formatting suggestions. Are you allowed to <strong>highlight</strong> words in the comments. Actually, can you tell me what you used to <em>emphasize</em> your last comment? Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 16:08
  • @L.D.James, no, see askubuntu.com/editing-help#comment-formatting. They do support **bold**: bold
    – muru
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 16:10
  • 2
    @L.D.James That at least against the very definition of the markdown syntax and it breaks the consistency among answers. We should follow the standard set by the markup language. That will make all texts written with that markup consistent regardless of the writer
    – Anwar
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 16:40
  • @muru Thanks for showing me how to produce bold. However, I would like to mention, I'll try to figure out a way to clarify it in my question, that, while the discussion is about emphasis, my use of the backtick isn't about emphases. To me emphasis is produced by using the steps you are suggesting, along with capitalization. I don't use a lot of that because to me it'll like shouting or touching a person while you're saying words. For me, too much of that would be a distraction. (continued) Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 19:47
  • ...(continued) The backticks in my questions are not emphases... to stress words, or say them louder. It's about separating the words with some type of definition. It would make more sense to say look at your /home/Documents folder than to say look at your /home/Documets folder. The later is placing emphases on the folder, whereas my intentions isn't to emphasize the folder, but to set it apart, as something being defined in the message, or having a special definition. Reading aloud the a message, /home/Documents text would be toned different from reading /home/Documents. Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 19:47
  • @L.D.James That is the correct use of back ticks. But that wasn't how you used it in the revision you linked to. Why would "Stack exchange" (note, exchange should be capitalised), or "correcting grammar", or "hot meta posts" need to be shown that way? What's so special about them that they should be shown like code?
    – muru
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 23:06
  • @muru Thanks for allowing there are circumstances as I described where the backtick formatting may not be out of place. That is exactly my point. I agree with you and everyone that bold is for emphasis. The confusion is that, it wasn't my intentions to place emphasis in my post. I updated my question to include examples where emphasis or bold wouldn't be in order. I used the formatting to express my intentions with what I was presenting. Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


No, backticks should not be used for emphasis. There are various reasons for this:

  1. Consider blind users using screen reading software. Such context tags (<code>) help them know what they're reading and, if I'm not mistaken, their software will spell anything marked as code letter by letter. So foo would become "eff, ow, ow" (f,o,o).

  2. Many of us find that such formatting makes posts harder to read. If you want to emphasize, you can use bold or italics, but code really breaks the flow of your text.

  3. That's the site-wide consensus:

  4. It breaks the conceptual model. Um. What I mean is that you are marking things that are not code as code even though they aren't actually code. I'm sure that causes a kitten to cry. Somewhere.

In short, code should only be used for things that a computer would read. So a command, a file name, actual code etc. Please don't use it for emphasis.

PS. I had written up almost all of this answer before noticing that the edit you were referring to was actually mine. I guess you might argue that that means I'm not impartial, but I hope the argument I have given will convince you.

  • I didn't expect for your answer to be impartial. I have a lot of respect for your reputation. If the reputation edit had been low enough I would never have asked this question. I would have just rolled back to what appears to be more usable to me. I'll study your whole message as well as the provided link. I hope to be able to contribute to the development of the specification and usage. I understand there is a need learning curb of which I'm in the process of acquiring. Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:24
  • 2
    @L.D.James If you want another user to post the same opinion, I'd be happy to, but I know you don't agree with my edits either. I completely agree with terdon that code formatting should not be used for emphasis.
    – muru
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:30
  • @muru I hope to have discussion and opinions from lots of our users. That was the reason for tagging the question as discussion. I hope you as well as others will voice your opinion so that I can reflect on my intentions, and either realize that I'm totally wrong by learning something, or as many cases in my experience, share in the development of standards. I hope to have reasons for the opinions. Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:47
  • 1
    @L In which case, you might want to read the posts linked to the one in the answer (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/165700/…, meta.stackexchange.com/questions/137936/…, meta.stackexchange.com/questions/279564/…, meta.stackexchange.com/a/194664/270345), as well as meta.askubuntu.com/q/11695/158442.
    – muru
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:50
  • 4
    @L.D.James terdon's given you 4 great reasons (semantics, kerning and legibility, history, and semantics again because they're really important). At least 5 other people agree with those. This isn't a discussion, this is well trodden ground. Please don't use code formatting for emphasis.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 22:46

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