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I like to edit questions. Sometimes I look at a perfect question and make it a bit more concise, placing things in list etc. One thing that I like is to mark game states and actions in Preformatted Text. For example: "player1 placed a meld of joker, R4, R5 then p2 added R7 to that meld"

  • Is Preformatted Text reserved only for code? if not, is there a list of use cases that can/should use Preformatted Text?
  • What would be a better alternative in order to highlight text? Should I use bold/Italic instead?

EDIT: @VLAZ edit the Preformatted Text into bold, but @Ronkainen rejected the edit. enter image description here

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  • There have been many occassions on other sites where I have removed preformatted text that has been indiscriminately applied to a post. I would happily see it eliminated from this site.
    – Chenmunka
    Oct 24, 2023 at 16:18
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    I think there are legitimate use cases. I have used preformatted text to format search strings for Gatherer and Scryfall (MTG search engines) because those strings have a code-like structure, especially when they include regular expressions.
    – murgatroid99 Mod
    Oct 24, 2023 at 16:23
  • @Chenmunka, could you please have a look at the question I linked and say if you think it is better to remove the Preformatted Text?
    – Cohensius
    Oct 24, 2023 at 20:58
  • I've looked. Yes, I think it is better to remove the formatting. It detracts from clarity rather than enhancing it.
    – Chenmunka
    Oct 24, 2023 at 21:01
  • I think there is some confusion about what is being used in the post and what you are using is actually referred to as code formatting. Not sure why they are calling it pre formatted text when you click on the button in the editor. I could be wrong but I think some of the concerns is how that markdown impacts screen readers.
    – Joe W
    Oct 24, 2023 at 21:19
  • Based on your last edit I would 100% of the time reject it as a suggested edit as no improvement but I likely would leave it it alone as a post or edit from someone with edit rights, Suggested edits generally get treated more strictly then other edits because they take other peoples time to review.
    – Joe W
    Oct 25, 2023 at 12:16
  • @JoeW, so you say it is better to use Preformatted Text and change it to Bold is not an improvement.
    – Cohensius
    Oct 25, 2023 at 13:36
  • I don't feel that changing something from Preformatted Text to bold is enough of an edit for someone without the edit privilege to be doing as it requires multiple people to review and approve the edit. Now if they had made other changes in the edit it would be different but as that is the only change I don't see it as improving the post overall.
    – Joe W
    Oct 25, 2023 at 13:59
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    @JoeW There is no "minimum bar" for edits. The goal is to improve a post. If there is nothing else to improve, then no extra effort is needed. The preformatted text is terrible and should be removed. If you disagree, leave an answer explaining why code formatting should be used on text which is neither code, nor needs to be formatted like code. If you feel my edit missed out on things that could be improved, feel free to either improve it or reject and edit to address these concerns. But "it's a clear improvement, I just feel there should be more effort" is not a reject reason.
    – VLAZ
    Oct 25, 2023 at 14:49
  • @VLAZ There is a difference between edits from a user with the edit privilege and users without it and the reviews need to be approved by 2 other users or the person who wrote the post in question. When submitting an edit that requires a review they are expected to fix everything in the post and not just fix minor issues. Just because preformatted text shouldn't be used doesn't mean it is anything more then a minor issue.
    – Joe W
    Oct 25, 2023 at 15:33
  • @JoeW Again, if you want to propose that inline code formatting is acceptable, feel free to leave an answer. However, "The edit is a clear improvement, however, it takes too much effort to click accept" is not a rejection reason. I did not see other clear improvements to do on that post. If you did - then you have the opportunity to apply those fixes.
    – VLAZ
    Oct 25, 2023 at 15:43
  • @VLAZ I am not saying that it is acceptable, just that a suggested edit to change it from preformatted text to bold formatting alone is a minor edit and should not be a suggestion.
    – Joe W
    Oct 25, 2023 at 16:28
  • @JoeW No, the goal of editing is to improve the site. That is the aim of any improvement. It's not to change enough. By rejecting the edit and especially not making any further edits, you're signalling that using inline code formatting is acceptable. If you did not think that the post would not be using inline code formatting right now - you'd have either accepted or made an edit yourself. "too minor" edits are ones that change things without clearly improving a post, e.g., changing from British to American spelling.
    – VLAZ
    Oct 25, 2023 at 16:37
  • @JoeW also, I'd really appreciate it if you stop using inline code blocks for text which is not code. It is exceptionally annoying to read that and you've so far used it in every single comment. Again, you've used it so much that I feel you should write an answer that it's acceptable. You clearly feel it is throughout your comments so far.
    – VLAZ
    Oct 25, 2023 at 16:38
  • @VLAZ I have been using them to make it clear what I am talking about, but I will stop doing it. As for an answer most of my comments have been on the suggested edit side of the question which isn't really relevant to the question.
    – Joe W
    Oct 25, 2023 at 16:40

1 Answer 1

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Inline code formatting (also "preformatted text" or "fixed formatting") done with backtick characters ` should not be used for emphasis or otherwise visually distinguishing regular text.

Code formatting can interfere with accessibility as it overrides font and style choices a user has made. It is also is plain annoying to look at when the content is simply supposed to be highlighted and not interpreted differently by the reader.

Reserve its usage for code or code-like text. Examples of something which is not code include:

  • having to show markup like <html> or **markdown** without them being interpreted by the editor
  • text where monospaced font and/or visual distinction between otherwise similar characters is important. For example
    • keeping the number of spaces: ### # vs "### #"
    • distinguishing between capital "i"/I, lowercase "L"/l, and/or number one/1 : Il1
    • distinguishing between the uppercase letter "o" O and the number zero: 0 : O0
  • simple mathematical expressions might also benefit from being enclosed marked as code: "This move scores 5 + 11 - 4 = 12 points"

As a rule of thumb, do not use inline code formatting unless needed. As opposed to trying to use inline code formatting just to use it.


For emphasis/drawing attention use italics (_italics_ or *italics*) or bold (__bold__ or **bold**) but do so sparingly. As a rule of thumb, less is more - a paragraph with just a few usages of highlighting markup will draw more attention to the emphasised text. A paragraph that is entirely bold will seem less important, especially the longer it is.


See also on Meta Stack Exchange:

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  • Exactly. Stop messing with people's accessibility and readability because of a fancy highlighting trick (which is not that fancy and does not highlight at all anyway).
    – Nij
    Oct 27, 2023 at 4:37

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