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I've been trying to formulate a question for quite some time, and I haven't been able to come up with a better way to describe it. I hope it's not too confusing.

There are a number of ways to use markup languages to convey information like emphasis in text files. Stack exchange uses 'Markdown' for example. In this case, adding * (in Markdown) or <emph> (in HTML) is simply called 'markup' I suppose, but is there a name for this? That is, making something stand out in the text, be it logically like "emphasis" or explicitly like "bold" or "underline", etc. The only thing that comes to mind is to emphasize, but (to me at least) that implies stressing the word, not what you're doing with the text to achieve that result.

This has been bugging me for quite a while, I hope someone can help me out here.

  • "Visual emphasis"? – ShreevatsaR Feb 11 '11 at 8:28
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    It’s probably not worth bumping this over (and it’s too small an edit for me to make anyway), but, as a note to readers who may be confused: the HTML tag is <em>, not <emph>. – KRyan Mar 28 '18 at 21:06
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How about simply to format? You are formatting the text with Markdown. Or how about to style? CSS is called like that for a reason, it's all about styling.

  • I am used to Drupal, which uses imput formats. To pass from filtered HTML (the default format) to Markdown would mean to change format. – kiamlaluno Feb 11 '11 at 9:53
  • Another related term from CSS/HTML: text-decoration. – Patrick M Apr 29 '14 at 15:48
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"To typeset" might be too general, but it could do the trick.

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Dictionary.com defines markup, amongst other things, as

detailed instructions, usually written on a manuscript to be typeset, concerning style of type, makeup of pages, and the like.

So I would say that the best word for this is "markup".

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