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I made some edits to this answer and since I was editing anyway, I changed some text from quote blocks to headings to make it clearer that they were not quoting from anywhere, but simply providing highlighting of the text.

In case anyone is unfamiliar, during writing or editing quote blocks are indicated in markdown like this:

> Quoted text

and they appear in the rendered post like this:

Quoted text

Headings are indicated in markdown like this:

# Heading 1

## Heading 2

### Heading 3

and they appear in the rendered post like this:

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

I guessed that Heading 3 would match the posters intention best.


I've used quote blocks to highlight sections of text in the past, and seen it cause confusion because people expect it to be a quote from somewhere. I therefore avoid this now, using quote blocks only for actual quotations. Even where it is clear from the context, the moment it takes to work out that this quote block should not be interpreted as a quote breaks the flow of reading a post, causing delay and discomfort.

On our site we will often have reason to quote a section of a paper, and since this is also common on other Stack Exchange sites, many of our readers will associate the particular style of Stack Exchange quote blocks with quotations.

To what extent should we edit other people's posts to replace quote blocks with headings/bold/italics?

Should we edit only when also editing for another reason or is this sufficient for an independent edit? Should we respect the right of a poster to rollback the edit and use quote blocks as they wish, or should we have a rule to avoid confusion?

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Yes.

My view is that good formatting is an important part of a good question or answer, so my opinion is that an edit to improve or fix formatting is valid.

Besides, using a blockquote to highlight a title can cause confusion as you say, but also much more serious problems if the styles of the site change. There are specific markups for titles/headings, so we can expect that those will remain consistent even if the site style is changed.

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Blockquotes should definitely not be used where another Markdown formatting style would be more appropriate, such as headings. For highlighting, bold or italics can often be used.

In this answer, I used blockquotes to substitute for indentation for equations. AFAICT, there's no way to simply indent a paragraph in Markdown without making it code-formatted, so using block-quotes seems like the least bad alternative here. If and when we get MathJax, I intend to go back and properly math-format that (and other answers).

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the formatting in the answer you've linked looks pretty good, but for the record, you can freely add HTML tags to markdown, so maybe something like a <pre> tag would do what you wanted. $\endgroup$ – glampert Sep 22 '15 at 3:03
  • $\begingroup$ @glampert I could have used <pre> but it would preclude any math formatting (italics, superscripts and subscripts, etc). $\endgroup$ – Nathan Reed Sep 22 '15 at 4:07

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