This is a note to all those that ask questions on the main site.

If something is italicised, that is usually perceived as emphasised, i.e. read with a slightly stronger voice. Bolding is typically perceived as a much stronger form of emphasis. This is because the greyness value of the text changes where words are bolded making them jump to the eye. The combination of bolding and emphasis comes across almost like all capitals: as shouting.

Emphasis, i.e. italics, definitely have their place in questions, as they help identify the key points of sentences or entire posts. Bolding also has its place, but usually much more limited, due to the reason outlined above. Text that is both emphasised and bolded should not be used outside of very special circumstances that permit the use of both.

Maybe this former paragraph was a small eye opener.

In the last few days, I had a feeling that more and more posts relied on bolding and italics to strongly emphasise what did not need that much of an emphasis. I don’t know if this is a recent new trend or if my long period of absence just made me forget that it was like this in the past. Whatever it is, this usage comes across as shouting, and I perceive it as rude if there is not a very good reason for using it. I would like to remind all posters, especially question askers of this perception and kindly ask to tone down the shouting.

Thank you for your cooperation.

(In the title I am using all-caps because titles do not support bolding/emphasis).

  • $\begingroup$ I hate the app... I meant to up-vote this, but now it shows I've down-voted it :/ $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Aug 26 '17 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe Melanie can find a typo to correct then you can undo your vote ;) $\endgroup$ – Jan Aug 26 '17 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ I think I remember being taught that Latin words/abbreviations, such as "i.e.", are supposed to be italicised.. So there's a typo for you, but it wouldn't let me suggest the edit. $\endgroup$ – Bob Aug 28 '17 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Bob different style guides recommend different things afaik. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Aug 28 '17 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol I think you're correct. My bad, I should have checked before I commented. $\endgroup$ – Bob Aug 28 '17 at 2:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Bob sorry, that was not meant as criticism at all! I wasn't really awake so I probably came off as a bit curt - my bad. Actually, I also thought the same way, so I used to italicise via in all my posts. Then I decided it was too much effort ;) The ACS Style Guide, at least, doesn't recommend it: i.stack.imgur.com/PRAq2.png (which supports my laziness...) $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Aug 28 '17 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol No that's okay! Criticism is always welcome! Especially if I learn something new :) Thanks for the link btw! $\endgroup$ – Bob Aug 28 '17 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Bob yes, iirc you cannot suggest edits on meta and the review queue is only there for tag wiki edit suggestions. $\endgroup$ – Jan Aug 28 '17 at 10:36

I know it is annoying, but I don't believe it's something new. I personally either down-vote and comment, ignore completely, or edit. It doesn't happen more often than other things I am more annoyed with.

(I am also pretty sure that this meta post is directed at the wrong people, it's more often the new users who shout.)

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    $\begingroup$ I know, I’m kinda hoping it becomes ‘hot’ and that it shows up in the sidebar for people. But then again, even having a popup coming up in their face which won’t disappear until eye tracking software has shown that they have read it will help … $\endgroup$ – Jan Aug 26 '17 at 11:46

I would say that it isn't so much “rude” as an obnoxious eyestrain or just plain silly. When misused, of course.

Anyway, I agree that it looks bad, but I don't read it as ‘shouting’ — certainly not quite so juvenile as the all–caps format.
E.g. I could've bolded and italicized certain words in the above paragraph. Imagine how it would've appeared if I had: like a comic book — where they always seem to emphasize the wrong words with bold lettering.


Personally, I don't mind the bolding too much. What's really bothersome is the all-caps.

This is not shouting

If you want to fix this by editing, all you have to do is:

**This is not shouting** to This is not shouting

It's just pressing backspace 4 times.

But if you consider,


You have to manually change every letter except the first letter "O" to lower case, not exactly what you'd call enjoyable.

Perhaps you should have aimed this discussion towards all-caps rather than bolding, since bolding isn't such a big issue, and can be easily edited out.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, I mean I guess your right … but bolding hits my eye more since it’s a change of greyscale while all caps is still the same greyscale. That’s why I went for bolding especially. $\endgroup$ – Jan Sep 10 '17 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ You could also copy the all-caps text and use auto-conversion. Probably won't save time but should be less painful. $\endgroup$ – Linear Christmas Sep 10 '17 at 15:44

I don't think many of the new users who post on our site are experienced with the Internet enough to be able to recognize the customs. We had one example today. Clearly, that user wasn't trying to SHOUT at us. In fact, he didn't know the rule that CAPITALS=SHOUT in the first place. He quickly apologised for that as well. I am not saying this is always the case, however, I am inclined to believe that this is mostly the case.

That leaves us with a problem though: What do we do with those CAPITALs comments?. Clearly, downvoting isn't ideal, and the only option is to lowercase the stuff. That takes time though. But, there's a handy Chrome extension (Change Case) to auto-lowercase the capitals. I've been using for a few weeks now and have found it very useful. In case any other prolific editor finds them in a similar trouble, this is the most optimum solution.

If some similar free software exists for FF/Opera/Safari, please edit it in into this post directly.


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