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Have a look at the formatting of the title of the question “What does the ASCII art on the 𝘼𝙢𝙖𝙯𝙤𝙣 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙪𝙭 2 𝘼𝙈𝙄 MOTD mean?”, and notice that some of the words used in the title (such as 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙪𝙭) have some special formatting (bold?) applied. But nowhere in that title there is any special markup or so to indicate that some of the (bold?) words should be displayed in bold. Note that this special formatting also shows up in the list of questions! So imagine the entire title would have had such (bold?) highlighting …

So what is the trick, rule, whatever to do this?

PS: I tried to also use similar formatting in my meta question here (e.g. to make the words special formatting show up in bold here also, but that doesn’t seem to be the answer … The very only way I could make the word Linux show up in bold, is to copy/paste it from the linked question’s title. But when I then tried to insert some extra letters (say ABC) within Linux, it seems it would show like LinABCux (so that seems to not work) …

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    Unicode is the trick / standard you're looking for.
    – rene
    May 28 at 8:55
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    It is worth mentioning that the local browser/OS of users viewing these titles need to have the proper fonts installed to see anything beyond just a black square. Not much of an issue going forward, when more and more systems gets up to date but if you use bleeding edge Unicode characters you might exclude users that are not able to get the latest stuff quickly.
    – rene
    May 28 at 9:24
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    Please do not do this. You totally break the content for users of screen readers. In macOS's VoiceOver, the title of this question is read as "How to apply special formatting within a question’s title, for example to highlight a keyword such as?"
    – jonrsharpe
    May 28 at 9:55

1 Answer 1

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You can't use formatting in titles. The post you link to uses Unicode for effect, but this should not be used because it breaks a number of tools that people need to navigate the web:

  • Screen readers (or at least Voiceover) skip the Unicode text entirely: “What does the ASCII art on the 2 MOTD mean?” I can tell that there are characters that are supposed to be there by navigating one character at a time tediously but even then it won't tell me what characters are there
  • Custom fonts (e.g. for dyslexia) won't work. Actually, this may be true for the default font on some devices too.
  • Most translation tools won't work
  • My popup dictionary won't work
  • Copy and paste! There's not even a convenient way to transform the text back into regular letters.

Sites that have MathJax can use MathJax italics/bold in titles, which at least are read out loud by Voiceover, though that has its own downsides (for example, blocking the question from HNQ) and I think the policy on most sites would be to make it regular text instead.

But you really don't need formatting in titles anyway. When I've felt like it was necessary, I reworded the title so that it wasn't.


I guess I'm compiling a library of similar posts. See also:

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