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I often notice people using the code snippet formatting for many more things than showing code, often just to emphasize things. And it can be quite annoying reading a post in which every other word is put in a gray, monospace font (see what I mean?).

Is there a way to encourage people to only use this formatting for what it is intended for? As there are many other, more appropriate ways of emphasizing text.

I have also seen it used for values, such as “I would use a density of 0.5”, or “hit GZ5. Are either of these appropriate? At least for the latter example I would think that indicating a key press, regardless of whether it is a number, should always use the <kbd> tags.

Maybe I am being too nitpicky, but I do feel that this formatting has a specific purpose and is being quite overused.

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    $\begingroup$ I 100% agree. I try to edit these out and link to this meta post whenever I seem them mis-used. $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Jan 28 '15 at 4:58
  • $\begingroup$ I agree as well. Note that in comments it is used to show a quote quite often. I personally think that is acceptable, but in questions/answers where the actual quote method is available, it is not acceptable. $\endgroup$ – VRM Feb 6 '15 at 3:40
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For values i think its reasonable,

eg: set the volume to 0.25, blender's default texture path is //textures

but it shouldn't be used for emphasizing words alone.

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ideasman42's answer is spot on.

I use the backtick formatting for any input value, short text or numeric, and short code snippets.
Example:
"type 180/pi in to the Z axis rotation" or
"a color vector is in the form of [Red, Green, Blue, Alpha]"

I think using backtick formatting to clearly format the input for a model operator is proper.
Example:
"Press GZ 5 to move the cube up 5 units on the Z axis."

The only place I use backtick formatting, when not directly formatting input is when the font does not clearly differentiate between I and l (which is <kbd>I</kbd> and <kbd>l</kbd> ). I sometimes use the backticks like this I (<kbd>`I`</kbd>) so the I is more clearly distinguishable.

I do agree that some times the backticks are over used, but I do not think that this is the worst problem facing BSE. A simple edit can fix any of these formatting errors. :)
However, all this only goes for questions and answers. Comments and chat posts, out of necessity need to use the backticks, because of the limited formatting options.

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I think this can definitively be over used, but, sometimes, there's no better way; How would you describe a onscreen button or list choice - you could use <kbd>, or italics, but that looks weird to me. So for instance, I would say "Check Transparent under the Film subsection.".

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    $\begingroup$ I believe that the general consensus is that italics should be used for menu items and on-screen buttons/categories. $\endgroup$ – PGmath Feb 5 '15 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ Exactly ^^ Also for cascading buttons you can do i.e. File > Save As $\endgroup$ – VRM Feb 6 '15 at 3:42

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