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About a month ago, I adopted an answering style from Thaddeus of Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange. The new format uses bullet points below a level 3 header with a brief summary of the content. The idea is to make key points stand out:

...Go for smaller chunks of text, isolate the main points, use section headers to break out big ideas, or specific vendors... —Thaddeus (source)

Until now, I have not run into an issue with this format and answers using this format have been very well received.

The header in this answer was formatted out by a fellow user who believed that the headers were shouting, and at least one moderator agrees with the edit. However, this is inconsistent with the feedback I've received from other users, such as by voting and in this chat room.

Is it okay to use headers in this manner? If not, what alternatives should I consider?

  • I agree there. Use headings for actual headings. Normal sentences should be formatted as paragraphs. If you need to emphasize something, go for boldface. Also, the original idea never said anything about using headers the way you did. It spoke about section headers. – slhck Jan 31 '15 at 15:00
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It's useful to bold key points, but I think doing it to whole sentences is too much, maybe even counter-productive. What @JakeGould did on this question of mine is a great example of how to use bold to add value:

Are some USB hard drive enclosures unsuitable for system drive use?

The key is a short bold heading, because it:

  • draws your eye to the key point, and is

  • short enough to take in the entire point with one glance.

You lose that effect when you have to actually read more than a few words all in bold.

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Headers aren't used to summarise content. Headers are used to create section breaks. Topic sentences are more suitable as the summary slug.

Your first sentence in a post should not be bold, or a heading. If you need to call out the first sentence, and you need to go beyond normal body text formatting (i.e. none), then your sentence is not as clear or succinct as it could be.

Using a header or bold at the very top of a post is the same as all caps. If you are OK with posting in all caps to start an answer, then a header is no different.

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I think it's fine to use headers the way you did there, but not when the header spans 3 lines.

  • Header is restored but shortened on the linked answer. – bwDraco Jan 31 '15 at 15:18
  • @DragonLord: Looks good to me – Der Hochstapler Jan 31 '15 at 15:26

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