I have a issue on where to use block quotes and pre formatted text and bold.

Please explain in depth where these should be used.


1 Answer 1


Thanks for asking.

Indicating what the text is, and making it readable as such, rather than emphasising it, is the most important function of formatting. In general, if you are not completely sure what the text in a post is, whether it is code, command output, a quote from an external source, a GUI menu item, etc, do not add formatting to it, because doing so incorrectly will be very confusing for readers.

Code formatting

Use code formatting for commands, command output (including any error or other messages in a terminal) and other codelike text, such as file paths. Here's an example:

I edited the file /etc/default/grub using the command

sudoedit /etc/default/grub

And put a # at the start of the line GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0.

Block quoting

Use blockquotes when the text is from an external source, or perhaps a message in a GUI dialog. But again, please use code formatting if the message was in a terminal!

Here's an example of block quoting:

The Bash manual states:

3.5.9 Quote Removal

After the preceding expansions, all unquoted occurrences of the characters ‘\’, ‘'’, and ‘"’ that did not result from one of the above expansions are removed.


Use bold sparingly. Do not use it to emphasise things like Ubuntu, Windows, kernel and other version numbers, software packages or other "keywords". This just adds noise and is uncomfortable to read for many people.

You may wish to use bold for subheadings, warnings that need very strong emphasis, or perhaps a key sentence or phrase of a very long answer, but I do not recommend adding bold for emphasis to other people's posts in general. Let people add their own emphasis. I probably remove more bold than I add when editing.

If you paste a section from an external source, such as the blockquoted text from the Bash manual above, you can restore its original formatting by adding bold to the relevant part of the pasted text.

I personally use bold for GUI menu items. Others use italics for this. Here's an example:

Go to

System Settings > Software and Updates > Other Software

This bold is not for emphasis, so much as to indicate a text type, distinct from the rest of the post, as with other formatting.

  • How about <kbd>System Settings</kbd> > <kbd>Software and Updates </kbd> > <kbd>Other Software</kbd>?
    – Fabby
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 7:42
  • I use <kbd> tags for clickable buttons, but not for menu items @Fabby, but I don't think it would be unreasonable to format them as such... just too much typing! Also, the key buttons seem to have smaller text, so are harder to read imho
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 8:16
  • Glasses! Sorry. :( I use them for both buttons and menu entries as I use text formatting way too much #hah!
    – Fabby
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 8:45
  • 1
    When using quote formatting, especially for text from online docs, be wary of backticks and angle brackets in the text <`>.
    – muru
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 9:55

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