As a compulsive footnote reader, I wish the default footnote font was larger. See, for example, the footnote in this good answer: What do you call someone who is good at everything?

If a footnote is worth reading (as this one is), it should be readable!

(Don't know what tag is appropriate. I need support to read tiny, tiny type.)

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    In that particular example, the footnote text is twice ensmallulated. SE's Markdown has no formatting option for just "small text". What is typically used as a poor man's substitute is either <sub>, which is subscripted text, which is shrunk and moved down, or its brother, <sup>, which is superscripted text, which is shrunk and moved up, or sometimes, as here, a combination. Presumably the poster here used both in order to get the "small" effect without changing the alignment of the text vertically, or at least minimizing that effect, by cancelling <sub> with <sup>. – Dan Bron Mar 17 '17 at 0:29
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    It seems silly to me. I don't think it actually changes the margins to do it. It's probably worth noting that there was a feature request for allowing the small tag. so that people don't abuse subscript and superscript like this. Although the text would still be smaller, it wouldn't be as shrunken as it is when you combine the sub/sup tags to center the text. Speaking of which, I took the liberty of removing bug, since that's not what this is and adding feature-request, since I think that's what you want. – Tonepoet Mar 17 '17 at 0:37
  • @Tonepoet, Dan Bron: I've used the "sub + sup" technique myself many times, and I don't have a problem with others doing the same. Perhaps you guys need to either get bigger screens or reconfigure to use a bigger font (if you really want to read something that the author has strongly implied isn't particularly important anyway). – FumbleFingers Mar 21 '17 at 19:23
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    @FumbleFingers We may not have a problem with it, but my concern is for other people's sake. It is difficult for some people to learn what we may consider even the simplest of tasks on a computer, and expecting somebody to buy a new displayer just to read type that could have just as easily been full size, since no reduction in leading has been made, is somewhat unreasonable. With things as they are now, I think using (parenthesis in italics), or making a proper footnote is a better solution, unless you can reduce the total number of lines by cramming in a few extra letters on one of them. – Tonepoet Mar 22 '17 at 0:53
  • @Tonepoet: You're quite right - it was a bit thoughtless of me to only consider this issue from the perspective of my own experience. On reflection though, I think I've tended to only use ultra-small text for things like website names in "hot links" (where the actual words aren't really important - if anyone's interested in delving deeper, they'd just click through the link anyway). But your point is well made, and I'll avoid doing this in future. – FumbleFingers Mar 22 '17 at 12:54
  • My speculation: Footnote numbers are small because they were originally meant to be inserted into main text unobtrusively. Footnote main text is small because it had to go at the bottom of a page, where space was at a premium (and the text was either just a source citation or a parenthetical comment) Small font worked just fine there. People do that today in media such as an website because it's The Way They Always Did It, and can't think outside the box & change to reflect the fact that these constraints don't apply there. In the cited case, it was a copy/paste job from Wikipedia. – jkp1187 Mar 23 '17 at 13:55
  • I've edited it to remove the <sup> tags, so it just has <sub> tags. The size of text by using both tags was ridiculous. – AndyT Mar 23 '17 at 14:08
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    @Andy T Yes! This is much better. – ab2 Mar 23 '17 at 16:32

There is no official formatting for footnotes on this site. What you saw is not default formatting for footnotes, but an abuse of the subscript and superscript tags. It is very unlikely that the way these tags function will be changed. You can click on the "edit" button to see the text in a normal-sized font, although it will be surrounded by visible <> tags like this:

>A polymath (Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, "having learned much")<sup>[1]</sup> is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.
<sup><sub>1. The term was first recorded in written English in the early seventeenth century Harper, Daniel (2001). "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2006-12-05.</sub></sup>

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