I had a suggested edit on one of my posts, that suggested changing the back-tick formatting to simple quotes. I am unsure of what to do in this case. So I figured it would be wise to ask this here. Examples: What say you? or "What say you?"

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Screenshot of Edit: Edit

2 Answers 2


On EL&U, this question came up and there a few different views to the matter. One of the current mods wrote:

On a side note, please do NOT use the “code” format to make words stand out for any reason. Use italics or “quotation marks” for the use–mention distinction and bold for words that you want to make stand out for other reasons.

In addition, as this other post said:

Even if the term "Code Sample" is not exactly "right" for this domain (English Language and Usage), it allows for the tag...Text in a pre element is displayed in a fixed-width font (usually Courier), and it preserves both spaces and line breaks. It can be useful, for instance, when you are quoting poems which may use special indentations, using several spaces. In the simple HTML this editor allows, "several spaces" are not easily done. Except in preformatted text.

In terms of personal preference, code formatting to highlight words seems a bit out of place, but when it comes to longer text blocks which need specific formatting then code formatting works well.

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    Just to make it clear, in general, longer text blocks should either have no formatting, or should be blockquotes (if they're, like, quotes [imagine that], or for longer examples). Code blocks' sole excuse for existence is pseudo-tables.
    – Martha
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 0:02

I personally reserve backtick formatting for cases where quotes, italics, or bold won’t do the job or where I am actually quoting code. At EL&U, the style convention is to use what would normally be used in print. Usually that means quotes or italics. That seems like a good precedent to carry over to ELL.

  • I agree then it is settled. Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 23:13

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