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I am new to writing. I have seen Jeff Atwood's blog and I am really impressed how he writes. I have seen a similar manner on wordpress docs too. I am still confused with some issues while writing. Here they are,

  1. I understand that important point should be made bold but I find that there are many important points that should be made bold.
  2. What content should be blockquoted?
  3. When to use code sample except code snippets?

Please help me out. Thanks

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3 Answers

On bolding: Assume that on a casual browse, the reader's eye will always leap first to headers, and to words in bold. They'll help him understand the structure of your piece, and the most important bits. Here's a simple example - the bolded opening lines give structure, and a few key concepts are bolded to stand out immediately.

Drinking MegaPop is bad for your health. Its ingredients include cyanide, pesticide, cidercide and patricide.

Drinking MegaPop is bad for the environment. Every year, thousands of adorable bunnies are killed by MegaPop executives, and used as fuel for their ozone-depletion devices. Scientists with exceptionally big foreheads contend that merely by placing a blanket ban on all production of MegaPop, they expect that garbage production in the United States would drop by 170% and every citizen would get a free Smokey the Bear lapel pin.

Drinking MegaPop is bad for international politics. The League of Foreigners Who Don't Like Us have cited the bitter breath caused by MegaPop as their #1 reason for disliking us. MegaPop has been shown to cause leaders to make irrational, unwise decisions (such as consuming more MegaPop). Remember: a nation that drinks MegaPop is a nation that cannot be trusted. Don't let us be that nation.

On blockquotes: Blockquotes are generally used for presenting quotes from other work; a quote that's more than a line or two should be blockquoted because that clearly differentiates it from the main flow of the text, from your blog post addressing the reader.

Blockquotes are similarly appropriate for other snippets that disrupt the main flow of your writing. The example I gave above for bolding is blockquoted; that makes it very clear that that section is different from the rest of the text. It makes it very clear where the example begins and where it ends. So: examples, long asides, imaginary scenes ("Oh, yeah! I could totally imagine Agent Scully meeting Captain Picard! It'd probably go something like this:...") and other such diversions can be blockquoted, particularly if they make the structure more clear.

On code snippets: only for code, or examples of computer input/output, copy-pasting from a shell command line, etc.. It's basically a blockquote formatted specially for code (which would, as per above explanation, be a disruption of the main, prose-written flow of the post).

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+1 for MegaPop. –  JSBձոգչ Jun 29 '11 at 14:06
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  1. If you find that you need to bold too many points this suggests that either
    • the content you have is very dry (equally important and factual where you can not put much emphasis)
    • you have not thought through what to emphasize (and why) and what are really your main points that need emphasis (in the context of the text)
  2. Blockquote can be used whenever you quote text (What Lauren says is true, it works better on longer, paragraph size quotes, but it should not be a problem for shorter ones, too - what is ugly is when you have many blockquotes of very short lines with too little regular text in between)
  3. Code block only for blocks of code. There is also `code formatting`, which produces inline code formatting.
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  1. If you have that many important points, make them a bulleted list instead of making them bold. They will stand out without being overwhelming.
  2. Blockquote is used to quote a big block of text, as opposed to quoting one or two sentences.
  3. You don't.
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