Style guides such as those on Wikipedia, Stack Overflow, Ask Ubuntu have been greatly helpful for me (and many in those communities) in creating well-written, well-formatted, easy-to-understand, easier-on-the-eye content. So, I would like to propose a style guide for this site.

Yes, I understand that style is more of a personal preference — this is perfectly all right for well written content.

This guide is meant to avoid poorly written, badly formatted, hard-to-understand, hideous looking content; we can all spot one, can't we? And to deal with one when we spot them.

This will be a good one-stop reference for everyone who is interested.


This is a community wiki, so go ahead and edit this question and the answer(s) to best suit the purpose.


I was just about to ask this question. Instead I will post an answer. :P

There seem to be a handful of styling targets on EL&U. These are the ones I could think of quickly:

  • Should question titles be questions?
  • Should we use single or double quotes around words in question titles?
  • Should we use single or double quotes or italics or code markers around words in question bodies? (Discussion 1. Discussion 2.)
  • Should we use single or double quotes or italics or code markers around words in comments?
  • Should we use > or backtick for example sentences? (Discussion 1. Discussion 2.)
  • Should we include punctuation in question titles?
  • Should we mark explicitly incorrect examples? (See discussion.)
  • Should we have a guideline regarding properly formatted links?
  • Should Word1 Vs Word2 be the standard format for such questions? (See discussion.)

I provided relevant links where I knew about them. Please edit in more if you find them.

Another relevant question is whether people should edit with the intent of:

  • Changing the style of the entire post
  • Change the style of a post so it is consistent with itself
  • Change the style of a post so it is consistent with the question
  • I feel like voting or answering each of those. Is that appropriate? How to do it though...in comments? in an answer? in separate answers? – Mitch May 6 '11 at 1:37
  • @Mitch: If there isn't a dedicated discussion question for one already, just make one, post your thoughts, and then edit this answer with a link. – MrHen May 6 '11 at 2:25

This is the way I handle some of these, from another answer.

In this medium, where writing and typography has to express speech and sounds,
I use italics and boldface like this:

  • I use plain italics only for citing examples and titles. Never for emphasis.
  • I use boldface for emphasis. These are words that would be LOUD in my speech.
  • I use bold italics for technical terms, usually with capitals, and links if I have them.
  • I also use bold italics in examples to point out individual parts that get mentioned in the text.

In addition, I use single quotes only for glosses, and double quotes for actual quotations.

  • Lushootseed /gʷidəq/ 'geoduck'
  • "A man does not know what he is saying until he knows what he is not saying." -- Chesterton

I also use bullets for examples, which I use a lot of; examples are much more useful than descriptions when discussing grammar, since nobody ever uses grammatical terms the same way.

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