One feature of SO that pains me every single time is having to manually indent all code four spaces, and usually copy four spaces to the clipboard so Ctrl+V acts as 'Tab'.

Maybe it's on purpose to stop walls of code, but I want to discuss it anyway because everything else seems to go so smoothly and this annoys me and slows me down every day.


And I JUST found the 'code block' feature after many months (having looked through a similar question or two).

I guess then can I rephrase as, 'Please make the CODE BLOCK editor feature/button more obvious' ?

  • There aren't much icons in the editor.. you could just hover over each and read the tooltip. Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:27
  • I notice that a number of new users don't find the formatting options, but I'm not quite sure it's because they aren't obvious enough (more of being in a hurry than confused). I don't see how it could be made to be more obvious?
    – user50049
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:30
  • Shadow - I know, the point is it wasn't obvious and I'm a very regular user :) Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:44
  • Ctrl + K -- You don't need to insert the spaces manually. Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 14:10
  • 1
    @Cody - Yes, thanks, not my point though Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 14:12
  • Sure, this has been discussed before. Lots of new users don't seem to be able to (or don't want to) find the code formatting feature. The problem is, no one has any more ideas on how to make it more obvious. People don't read informational text, so popping up a big red error message for unformatted code won't even work. Do you have any other ideas? Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 14:14
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    @Cody - Yes. On the 'formatting help' page, in the part where it says about code formatting, have it say 'Use Ctrl+K or the Code Formatting toolbar icon (it looks like some curly braces)' - it presents itself as a guide but omits this, saying you have to indent with 4 spaces. Ref: meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 14:15
  • @Cody - for/against that? Anyone else? Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 15:08
  • No, that sounds perfectly reasonable. I can't think of any side effects, so I say why not? Seems like a simple enough change. I just would have preferred you included such a suggestion in your question. I think it would have helped people like me (and apparently Jeff, which I hadn't read when I left the first comment) to understand what you were actually asking. It's easy to say what's wrong, but it's difficult to come up with answers. :-) Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 15:14
  • @CodyGray: I have a proposal, discussed here. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 9:07

3 Answers 3


The code block tool if very obvious if you are looking for it. It is in the toolbar and equally sized as other tools. Making it stand out more than the other tools would make the UI look poor. The tool is mentioned in formatting guides and other questions as you have found.

I would suggest not to make any changes to the tool.

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    What, this formatting guide? meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help - Where? Maybe it's just me but the guide says 'indent 4 spaces' or refers to the backtick only. "{}" on a toolbar doesn't mean 'code formatting' to me immediately, that's all Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:19
  • Agreed, making the code tool permanently stand out would be a bad idea. But the code tool is the most used one, perhaps after the Link tool, so how about we move it to the left, as in this proposal? PS: it took me five years to notice the { } button. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 9:06

Wait, what?

Just press ctrl+k to indent code (or unindent code..)

or of course click the {} toolbar button.

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    Yea, I got that halfway through, don't know if you saw the second half of the question. My point is it took me months to notice :) Might well be my fault, granted, wanted to see if others had the same issue.. Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:18
  • That's not the point. The problem is that the { } button is very, very easy to miss. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 9:05

I've just posted a proposal to address the easy-to-miss code button issue. It has generated a lot of discussion - please vote to reopen if you see fit.

  • (It would have been sufficient to just add this answer instead of duplicating the information in comments on the question and the rest of the answers here.)
    – Jason C
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 5:51

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