It's been pointed out on "several occasions" that some of my answers need "formatting". I'm assuming this means I should be using indentations, shoulders, paragraphs and or the tab key. My answers are usually subject to these constructive suggestions when they become lengthy and detailed. I would truly like to conform to these standards, but if truth be told "I have no idea how to use the icons that designate how the words are structured." Any links to how I might pose my prose?

  • 2
    "several moderators"? I could only find one place where a moderator mentioned formatting, and that was a large wall of text that frankly needed some paragraph breaks. Please see the editing help for more information.
    – Niall C. Mod
    Dec 13, 2015 at 7:22

4 Answers 4


While you might have a very good understanding of a subject, or a lot of knowledge about a topic. When it comes to answering questions, conveying that information, is more important than knowing it.

When writing an answer, think about it in terms of spoken language. If you went to an expert in a field, and asked them a question. Would you expect them to simply drone on about the topic? And if they did, do you think you would get anything out of it?

When you write an answer, imagine you're having a conversation with the person asking the question. If it's a difficult topic to understand, use examples, diagrams, or links to further reading on the topic. Do your best to make your answer easy to read, and easy to understand. Keep in mind that most users here are not trade professionals, and may not understand jargon or underlying concepts.

If the reader has trouble reading your post, they're not going to learn from it. And if folks can't learn from an answer, it's not a good answer.


Paragraphs are important. It can be very hard to read walls of text through tired eyes or on shaky mobile devices. In that regard I disagree somewhat with DMoore. Also, lengthy answers should be formatted logically into paragraphs so that your readers can more easily follow your reasoning.

Indentation, etc. are not so important. (Copy on the web is almost never indented.)

I don't expect everyone here to be English majors. As DMoore said, we're a community of contractors and tradespeople who may not care much. However, if you care about how your message is received, do the bare minimum to make it easier for others to receive it.

Some tips:

  • Hover over the toolbar buttons to learn about their functions. They're generally intuitive to use, and a little practice will have you formatting like a Supe.

  • Paragraphs are simply a matter of hitting Enter twice when you finish a thought. It's that easy.

  • You might look into what quotation marks are intended to do. You have several phrases quoted up there for no apparent reason. This is confusing to your readers, who wonder where the quote is from.

Otherwise, just be willing to share your experience and knowledge. Leave formatting to us pedants. :P



Six simple tips to get reputation fast on any Stack Exchange site.

How do I format my posts using Markdown or HTML?

I was raised at Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange. I would suggest going there and click edit on some post that has tons of formatting in it, to see how it all works. I highly recommend any of Richard's answers as examples. They can be a bit over the top, but that's the point. Moreover, all of Tester's answers here are good examples of getting it just right for a DiY.SE post.

I'd also welcome you to join English Language and Usage. My command of the English language has improved tenfold, having been run through the wringer over there. There's plenty of pedants that will offer constructive criticism, myself now included.

Every change in your train of thought (or next step) should be a new paragraph. However, I prefer 'asides' to be in parenthesis (because commas can be confusing, if say I used them here) instead of commas or dashes (no one uses the dashes right; the key on your keyboard is a hyphen, you'd have to enter some Unicode). Stuff in parenthesis doesn't look as good, but it's unmistakable.

  • IMO, everyone should have either an ELU or an ELL account, and they should try to answer a Skeptics.SE question at least once; they don't put up with BS there at all: Just the facts, mam.
    – Mazura
    Feb 4, 2016 at 5:00
  • @Mazura-Thanks for the suggestion. I believe I shall take your advice and join the ELU. BTW: isn't "mam" spelled "ma'am"? Just askin' is all.
    – ojait
    Mar 3, 2016 at 3:13
  • Almost certainly it is ma'am. See, you already joined. You just don't know it yet ;)
    – Mazura
    Mar 3, 2016 at 12:52

I disagree with the mods all the time on this site - but to be honest with you it is the best modded site on SE in my opinion and often in my disagreements it is a heavy mixture of me being wrong sometimes, a lot of gray area and sometimes I still think they are wrong.

When you come to this site there are very little illogical "rules" that you definitely find in the non-tech SE sites. Also we have a lot of contractors on here with... poor grammar and no one cares.

Just answer your question. No one cares about how it looks. Just give a good answer if you need formatting then let people edit your answer. I can tell you that I have had many people edit my stuff when answering from my phone or slightly drunk. But rules there are none. If you want to look at best practices - Tester has really good formatting. I don't worry about it in 99% of my answers unless they start getting long.

  • yeah- I think that what was bugging a lot of folks, trying to read a wall of writing.
    – ojait
    Dec 29, 2015 at 15:57
  • @ojait - We don't care if you have a wall of text. However that will affect your votes because people might not read a good answer. For new users there is more of a propensity to help them edit things like this. But you have been on the site for a while so people might just comment. If you have a wall of text I would suggest using bold to make a few headings or I like to just number off steps.
    – DMoore
    Dec 29, 2015 at 21:20
  • @DMoore- Thanks. I'm getting the hang of formatting diy.stackexchange.com/questions/80680/… . At least the paragraph breaks.
    – ojait
    Dec 30, 2015 at 4:42

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