# Can we get Markdown support in questions' title field?

It would be nice to add Markdown support on the question's title field.

It seems a bit inconsistent when it’s already available in the body and question's comments.

What do you think?

• I'm not sure what problem you're trying to address with this. Would you mind clarifying that?
– JonK
Jul 25, 2014 at 15:28
• On Chemistry.SE, where we have the mhchem add-on to Mathjax, we try to keep the markup out of the titles because the extra characters end up in the URL slug (the can-we-get-markdown-support-in-questions-title-field portion in your question here) and inhibit the ability of people to search by the title. Jul 25, 2014 at 15:29
• this is a feature request Jul 25, 2014 at 15:29
• For example: http://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/14424/why-is-cehso4-shown-as-an-example-of-a-weak-acid-instead-of-cehso4 has the extra ce escape characters in it for the markdown. The URL slug is critical for indexing questions on search engines, I believe. Jul 25, 2014 at 15:31
• @ÉdouardLopez Sure, but what problem are you trying to solve with it? Why do you want this feature? Or how do you think it would improve the site?
– JonK
Jul 25, 2014 at 15:38
• @JonK it's a UI issue, title with backtick, underscore on other unparsed markdown are ugly while we can't improve the title look & feel with this feature. Jul 25, 2014 at 15:47
• That's true, but I can't think of any good reason to use markdown syntax in titles to begin with, certainly not somewhere like stackoverflow at any rate. I don't want my questions page to be filled up with inline code-blocked text just because users want to make their questions more visible!
– JonK
Jul 25, 2014 at 15:49
• I was planning on posting this on Meta but decided not to do this: the website will lose it's clarity when many people use markdown in titles. Jul 25, 2014 at 17:01
• I find this interesting to put HTML tags as <span> or to hightlight some technical name. If highlightinh is not possible, I write 'span' but it is less readable. May 1, 2020 at 7:12

This isn't something we can support.

The big reason is that search engines will not render the formatted title in results. Hence:

How do I move the turtle in LOGO?

.. would look like this in search results:

How do I _move_ the turtle in LOGO

.. or similar sorts of messy. This is already a bit of a problem with sites that have MathJax enabled. Their titles can be extremely illegible if you're browsing them from what a search engine returned. While it's a bit of a necessary evil on those sites, as MathJax lets them, well, math and all - I don't see supporting markdown formatting in titles to be any real gain, much less justify the side effects.

There's also the problem with people making random parts of people's text into inline code. I'd hate to also have to deal with that in titles, and we haven't gone into deliberate abuse of the feature yet :)

It's good to want a strong, extremely descriptive and interesting title, but I don't think formatting is going to have a net-positive impact there.

• I actually totally agree with this answer, but the search engine issue seems like it wouldn't actually be a problem. Markdown processing, unlike MathJax, is performed server-side, so it wouldn't actually affect what search engines see, right? Presumably Markdown would be scrubbed from the HTML <title>, which wouldn't render in browsers, anyway. Jun 21, 2015 at 20:29
• While allowing arbitrary formatting in question titles is probably a bad idea, I think supporting backticks for code would be useful (especially on StackOverflow and SuperUser). I don't think they would necessarily be a problem for search results since lots of questions already put backticks in the title regardless of formatting. Mar 16, 2021 at 6:33
• This is a little confusing. Markdown syntax is perfectly readable and I would bet, at long odds, that search engines have no problem with underscores in page titles. You could also, you know, strip Markdown syntax characters from question page titles, tho then you run into the problem that some underscores aren't Markdown! Is it already a problem that some questions (seemingly) legitimately reference things like something_something_snake_case? I don't think so! Mar 16, 2021 at 16:22
• @KennyEvitt I think it would be awkward to need to escape markdown characters in titles because underscores and asterisks are common characters in error messages and those (unfortunately) often find their way unfiltered into question titles. Backticks possibly not as much, and Markdown has proliferated enough that it's kind of hard to find someone that doesn't understand what they signify, but the UX all around still feels really wonky to me. Note that I don't really have much of a say here (beyond what you have) as I no longer work here, but I still feel strongly about it. Mar 16, 2021 at 16:40
• @TimPost I think part of this is the very understandable fear that older computer people have of 'special characters'. I'm very sympathetic! I can almost feel when some website is connected to a dumb old system that's choking on some perfectly normal 'special character', e.g. in a password I generated. But that's defeatist! This is 2021 dammit! Our computers should be able to handle Unicode! This 'save the poor computers from special characters' fear is outdated. I'm really skeptical that this breaks search engines anymore, let alone any system worth 'protecting'. Mar 16, 2021 at 23:50
• @KennyEvitt A couple of things - (1) If you ever run for public office on a platform to educate people on the modern non-perils of character encoding, you 100% have my vote. I might also volunteer for your campaign. I completely agree with you. What worries me is the accidental conversion of markdown when folks paste code into titles. It's going to look really weird and it won't be immediately obvious what happened, and I think it's onerous to require folks to escape titles when that's the case. But, I'm just one small voice in the crowd here - clearly some folks feel differently. Mar 17, 2021 at 12:15
• @TimPost Thank you for your support! Down with ancient superstitions! Up with sanitized inputs! Your worry is an excellent concern and something that didn't occur to me! I think that, to start, just supporting backticks might mostly avoid that pitfall, tho that almost certainly complicates the implementation (unless SO/SE already has code to parse only a subset of Markdown, which I'd think they would already). Mar 17, 2021 at 16:40
• @TimPost I can't find it now, but I remember someone complaining in a comment on a similar Meta question that -- is already automatically converted to an m-dash, and that there are similar 'smart punctuation' changes made too – in question titles. Mar 19, 2021 at 15:09
• GitHub started supporting code in titles. And I don't think search engines mind displaying backticks in the title - it could even improve accessibility: programmers and a11y tools (e.g. screen readers) can identify that <code>that</code> part is code in the title. Sep 9, 2021 at 14:55

It's intentional to avoid users bolding, or adding italics to make their question stand out.

As such, markdown in full will never be supported in titles.

If you have a good reason to add a specific part of markdown to the title, ask for that and provide a list of existing questions where that feature would arguably improve the questions.

Without examples, though, it's unlikely to gain much traction as a useful feature.

Note that some sites allow MathJax in the titles, so there's a good case for asking this as a feature request for a specific site as well, rather than asking for it network wide:

Guidelines for good use of $\LaTeX$ in question titles

Asking for a feature in one site rather than all is nice in that it doesn't slow down sites where it's not useful, but as you can see above other sites, and the question hotlist, might not render it correctly.

I see that this might help on some sites, like the one mentioned, Chemistry.

However, I seriously doubt this feature will be used for good by most users. On my main site, SO, some people tend TO SHOUT USING CAPITALS. What if we give them BOLD AND ITALIC SHOUTING too?

That might be too much...