It became customary among many users to abuse the quotation markup to indicate Mathematica output, like

{1, 2, 3, 4, 5}

I wonder whether it would be possible to create a MMA.SE specific markup, maybe something similar to the ==> used by the copy/paste palette, that would create a dedicated Mathematica output code cell (which could have added features, as automatic Out[n] = ...). The reason this doesn't exist is of course that no other site here has input and output mixed up that much. Seeing that it might be confusing right now for new users coming here from other SE areas, the matching idea of input/output grouping of Mathematica, and the customization possibilities, I thought this was a good idea to propose.

  • For the record, I'm not a big fan of the abuse of quoted text to indicate output. Quote text has a yellow bg and code on top of that has grey bg, making it a big mess. Besides, the quote block wastes so much space for a single line that it just adds to the length you have to scroll to read. More often than not, it doesn't indicate that it's output (especially to someone new). I'd much rather favor an Out[n]= ... for simple stuff and a (* Out[n]= ... *) for more complicated stuff.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Apr 2, 2012 at 19:08
  • 2
    Truth is, that abuse of the format looks better on meta than on the main site.
    – rcollyer
    Apr 3, 2012 at 15:16
  • 1
    @R.M: On the other hand, it is quite handy to format the output and make it stand out with two clicks (quote, code), without having to type ==> for each piece of output. I agree that a dedicated format with less wasted space, resembling actual Mathematica-output, would be better, but until it is implemented, I rather stay with the quotes. Apr 3, 2012 at 18:16
  • I agree that the block quote with block code is ugly and space wasting but commented output is not much better. I would vote for a small tweak to the stylesheet.
    – Verbeia
    May 3, 2012 at 12:18

1 Answer 1


We're asking somewhat of a big favor for a feature that would work only for this site. What about a compromise? As @rcollyer has noted, format abuse works looks fairly good here on (beta) meta. In the final site design, why not arrange for quotation to work equally well for output and actual quotations--perhaps much as it already appears here on meta? This is really not a bad "abuse": output can reasonably be construed as quotation, whereas input really does consist of MMA statements (and should automatically be formatted as such). The complaint really seems to be about appearance rather than co-opting the semantics of quoted text to display output.

  • 5
    It might not be that extreme of a request if it indeed makes the experience better. For example, the go tag on Board & Card Games has a markdown that lets them easily enter a game configuration, as you can see in this question. A solution in this case might also be possible and I wouldn't want to rule out a request right away.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Apr 5, 2012 at 4:26

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