Sometimes I would find it handy to have an additional way to emphasize text. We have bold and italics, but it could be convenient if we had a tag (like <em1>) that would map to a unique alternate text colour that integrates well with the web site theme (for example the colour that corresponds to the str class for markdown-syntax-highlighted text).

Also for inline code I noted that trying to emphasize a part of it results in inconsistent spacing due to the padding of code blocks (consequence of this question).

Example of use for a vim question where I would see a real use for such a feature:

enter image description here

<em1> is probably not an appropriate tag name, and <alternatecolor> would be more meaningful.


  • 8
    My vote for <blink> instead!
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 14:43
  • @Arjan: aaargh you killed me.
    – Benoit
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 14:44
  • Would Just use <code>:norm! A<b>^M</b></code> not do it? (I'd dislike inventing new tags, but even inventing new Markdown should only be done when really needed, I feel.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 14:46
  • Possibly related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/115455/…
    – Toomai
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 14:52
  • @Toomai: The only difference being that I don't ask for every colour of the rainbow to be accessible!
    – Benoit
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 14:54
  • @Arjan: In the case of vim question, I guess using an alternate color for special keys would be more intuitive for readers because this is how specialkeys are typically displayed in the interface under all standard colorschemes. Also, a colour does not draw attention as much as bold does. Using bold would be really too much eye-catching IMO.
    – Benoit
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 15:13
  • Pfft. <blink> is a joke. <marquee> forever! @Arjan
    – Pops
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 15:29
  • 1
    True, @Popular, but the OP was a bit picky about excessive whitespace ;-)
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 15:34
  • 2
    And blinking is your solution? 100% of that is whitespace! (Half the time.) @Arjan
    – Pops
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 15:36

2 Answers 2


I would like to see this, for the reason you stated as well as another reason.

When I send e-mails to my end users, I frequently highlight actions or software commands in a different color. It's personal preference, but I'd rather use bold and italics for emphasis in language, and not stylistically differentiate what people should do from the importance of the action itself.

I recognize this is a different intent than you had in mind, but to chime in on the code tags: I find italics absolutely impossible to read in a fixed-width font. Bold is sometimes (ironic formatting) okay, but in these single-/double-character instances, it barely makes a difference to my eye.


As an alternative: what about only styling things differently? Like style all <em> and <strong> within <code> to have a slightly different color too?

(This would indeed also change the rendering of existing posts, though I guess not a lot of posts actually use it right now, as backticks or code blocks are so much easier than manually entering HTML. This would not change anything for those using the API or datadump. I'd dislike inventing new tags, but even defining new Markdown should only be done when really needed, I feel.)

  • Since <em> is probably less used than <i> and <strong> less used than <b> I would say this would be nice, but maybe there would be 1 existing question on which this could be undesirable to apply this.
    – Benoit
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 15:41
  • I'm sure the team is not worried about a few posts ;-)
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 15:42
  • By the way: no author should ever rely on the styling. That could change whenever the team likes, and already is different on the mobile site, and might have no effect at all on screen readers. Also, in text one should not refer to the styling.
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 15:48

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