I was going through a question and saw that the formatting was a bit difficult to follow:

In the example "Te veo los ojos", in English that is "I see your eyes". te=your, right? If I change the sentence to "Se veo los ojos", then it will become "I see his/her/its/your eyes"? Are these two sentences missing the subjects?

I changed it to "format" because, to me, it looks quite easier to read:

In the example "Te veo los ojos", in English that is "I see your eyes". te=your, right? If I change the sentence to "Se veo los ojos", then it will become "I see his/her/its/your eyes"? Are these two sentences missing the subjects?

But then I wondered: do we have a canonical way to do this? Going through Meta I could not find any specific answer about this specific case of quotes within a sentence.

I think it would be good setting it.

Here is the options we have (feel free to suggest / edit with more):

  • "quoting"
  • "quoting and bolding"
  • coding
  • coding and bolding
  • "double quoting"
  • "quoting, coding and bolding"

2 Answers 2


I meant to do this proposal a while ago, but here goes based on how I've been doing my answers and I think a lot of others have as well.

For bilingual answers (where we've translated them), I recommend putting the language of the response using the markup ### English

With the following result:


And now we begin an answer in English


Y la repetimos en castellano.

When quoting, there's no real strict standard difference between quotation marks, italics, or blockquote, but I'd propose the following:

  • Quotation marks (either «», “”, or ‘’): quoting of actual sources elsewhere that are brief (one-two lines at most).
  • Blockquote: (using >) any quotation that is going to be longer, or that requires complex formatting. In these cases, especially in the case of a definition from a dictionary or an example from a grammar like the Nueva Gramática, we ought to use the first line to cite it, and then after a newline, cite the actual text.
  • Italics: when we are using words or short phrases as entities. For example, “In the phrase me gusta nadar, the subject is nadar.” If a sentence, and used as in isolation (cast off by a colon, for instance), blockquote may be better. In any case, we should probably uphold standard linguistic symbology (unless context makes it incredibly clear) for these phrases as well which would be:
    • me gusta correr (correct, unmarked)
    • *Tú hablan español (wrong)
    • ?No creo que es así. (dubious, ?? for very dubious)
    • %La arena es blanco (grammatical only in some dialects).
    • For answers oriented towards beginners, it may be useful to instead using the <sub></sub> to make these things explicit. E.g., me gusta correr (correct), but Tú hablan español (incorrect)

When answer, the primary answer should go in bold. For example, if someone wants to know what the superlative of pobre is, the answer would look like the following:

The word pobrísimo doesn't exist, a lot of adjectives that have an l or r in the final syllable have irregular forms. So the correct superlative of pobre is paupérrimo.

This way someone scanning the question and the answer can quickly locate the answer. (notice I didn't write *pobrísimo because context makes it clear it's wrong)

I also tend to use bold if I have a list of things that require long explanations

There are a number of different stem changes possible in Spanish, but only three of them are common:

  • o→ue
    The explanation for o to ue changes will take more than a single line so it doesn't make much sense for us to use superscript or subscript annotations as those aren't pretty when they have a line break.
  • e→ie
    Likewise here the next one would need to be very long and break the line so visually this looks better.
  • e→i
    Likewise here the next one would need to be very long and break the line so visually this looks better.
  • i→ie
    Likewise here the next one would need to be very long and break the line so visually this looks better.
  • u→ue
    Likewise here the next one would need to be very long and break the line so visually this looks better.

But there are times that superscript can look quite nice:

Dependiendo de los tiempos y aspectos que usamos, podemos indicar acciones relativas a otras:

Cuando cumplió cinco años…

  • … había viajado a otro país.
    (Viajó antes de cumplirlos)
  • … hubo viajado a otro país.
    (Viajó justo antes de cumplirlos)
  • … viajó a otro país.
    (Viajó poco después de cumplirlos)
  • … iba a viajar a otro país.
    (Viajó, quizás, un tiempo después de cumplirlos)

If they are very brief — but still commentary — we can use subscript inline:

Así que, es posible usar bien el subjuntivo, bien el indicativo, en cláusulas después del verbo decir:

  • Me dijo que yo estudiaba mucho. (descripción: indicativo)
  • Me dijo que yo estudiase/ra mucho. (orden: subjuntivo)

Brief information about things look better in subscript, IMO. So if we're giving an answer for a beginner, and we want to mark who a pronoun or a verb is referring to, I recommend subscript (note the two sentences are in blockquote, because they are cast off and stand alone nicely).

Once we have the sentence Diego es muy guapo, we can refer to him using the pronoun él:

Él(Diego) trabaja en casa.

In fact, we don't even need the pronoun, because the verb lets us know:

Todos los días, se levanta(subj: Diego) a las ocho.

We should not, as a general rule, use the the tick marks `` to use preformatted text. That is generally reserved for computer code, which won't come up often on this SE. If we need to make a table, we can use the quadruple-space:

           NADAR (presente de indicativo)
        yo: NADO           nosotros/as: NADAMOS
    tú/vos: NADAS/NADÁS    vosotros/as: NADÁIS
él/ella/Vd: NADA          ellos/as/Vds: NADAN

For pronunciation, we should also follow general guidelines used in linguistics, although we shouldn't expect all users to know it, we can edit in and provide some more eye-readings if necessary. Thus, we could say, there are three general ways to write pronunciation:

  • Phonemically (transcripción fonológica)
    This will probably be the most common, and is done between /slashes/. While in Spanish there are generally recognized archiphonemes such as /N/, /L/ and /R/, unless the question is such that they need to be recognized, it's best to avoid them. The standard phonemes for Spanish are a e i o u j w (vowels/semivowels), and b d f g k l ʎ m n ɲ p ɾ r s t ʧ x ʝ θ. We place a ' in front of a syllable to represent that it carries the stress, and optionally a . to represent a syllable break (generally only if we want to strongly represent each individual syllable). Several examples of phonemic transcriptions include /gug.le'ar/, /kome'ɾi.a/, /pronunθja'θjon/ ~ /pronunsja'sjon/, /'ʧoʎo/ ~ /'ʧo.ʝo/, /'toɾo 'roxo/.
    This transcription isn't too hard, and can be easily fixed by moderators if necessary.
  • Phonetic (transcripción fonética)
    This type of transcription describes the actual sounds that are produced, which means we can distinguish [b] (word initial) from [β̞] (intervocalically). As you can tell, these transcriptions go in between square brackets []. Stress is still marked with ' and syllables if needed can be separated with .. A word like enviar (/en.vi'ar/) could be phonetically rendered, depending on dialect, many different ways including [embi'ar], [em'bjar], [em'bjah] or [embi'a] (depending on how the R-final is pronounced and whether or not a hiatus is present). There are a great number of symbols used for this type of transcription (see Wiki's article on it) , but it will probably only be necessary to use in a handful of questions regarding regional differences or some other detailed question about pronunciation, and otherwise probably shouldn't be used too often.
  • Eye-spelling
    This is something used in English a lot and to a lesser extent in Spanish. It's so called because you just standard-like spelling to represent what you want to say. For example, we might render "phonetics" as foh-NEH-ticks in English (with or without the hyphens). In Spanish, this might be limited to adding in an accent mark where it's already clear something is stressed (and thus, nadár, díje, or rió), but might also replace some other letters like s (for seseo dialectos) or t/z (pensinsular D-final), y/i for diphthongs created from hiatuses (envyár or something), j for central Spain /sk/ (ajco), etc. There aren't any hard or fast rules for these, and so while they can be useful, it's probably a good idea to also include a phonemic (between //) transcription as well, for example, "When we conjugate pedir (pedír /pe'dir/) in the present…" or something like that.
  • I like it in general! However, let me comment some parts I find a bit "ugly": having a huge header with English and Spanish gets too much space for the important matters. I tend to prefer having this header contain the title in the given language (with ### so it is smaller). See one example. Also, I like using <strike> to cross out incorrect words. Then, I found out SE uses the ASCII for arrows, which comes handy instead of ->.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 12:57
  • I don't like strike: it's hard to read and also not common for languages (there are times to use it, but marking a general example as wrong isn't it, I don't think). With ### is fine, I didn't know about it :-) I agree on →, I was just being lazy and not looking up since it was more about the headers haha :-) Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 13:49
  • 1
    Cool! I specially like the usage of the subscript, to me it is the most readable form to show in-line translations and to clarify meanings. Still, the header ### English looks a bit ugly to me, so I by now will keep adding the title on the given language. Regarding the quadruple-space, it is worth explaining that it is the same as surrounding with the <code> ... </code> tag. Also, these four spaces can be achieved by selecting the text and pressing Ctrl+K. See more on formatting...
    – fedorqui
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 14:19
  • guifa, and how do you mark pronunciation? /gu-gle-AR/ is fine?
    – fedorqui
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 12:28
  • 1
    @fedorqui I added a bit. I probably should keep it shorter (something like "use // for phonemic, [] for phonetic", and then make a separate meta article about the actual transcription) but I don't think we need use code markers, the slashes and brackets should be sufficient. Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 15:31

There are some generally understood guidelines but there is really no canonical documentation about formatting like in stackoverflow.

The Spanish SE community is still too small to see a prevalent pattern of formatting in answers or questions.

Eventually though we will have to have some guidelines for this.

Some of the things I have seen so far as "tacit" rules are:

Definitions from the rae are quotes

Hello I am a RAE definition

Words that need emphasis can be bold or in italic.

This is an important word.

Incorrect words can be striken-through.

This is an incorrect word.

And that is all that comes to mind right now. I will complete this answer if something else comes up though.

  • thanks! I took the liberty to changing your answer a little bit. I hope it still reflects what you wanted to say.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 13:59
  • Related: Indicating wrong sentences
    – fedorqui
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 10:55
  • @fedorqui Yes the community agreed on that point.
    – Jose Luis
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 11:30
  • Mmm not sure what was the agreement, I see three options and different opinions
    – fedorqui
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 12:01
  • 1
    I would also say generally words-as-words also go in italics (and very short phrases). Anything longer than 3-4 words probably needs to go in quotation marks or in a > quoteblock / list (if many examples). Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 12:52
  • 1
    @guifa maybe you can edit the answer to show this. This way the post can eventually be used as a reference for future users.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 15:53

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