When people create electronic flashcards, is there a valid need for them to have markdown for both bold and italics? This is a question that I have been debating with some colleagues for a while now as we try to find a balance between functionality and simplicity.

We have asked some customers, but as expected, they have said they could use it, but so far nobody has been able to give a situation where one italics is needed but bold not suffice.

Is there content for which both bold and italic text is semantically needed when making a flashcard?

Some background: people can share content that they create, and so we would like to as much as is reasonable try to keep the formatting of the content as uniform as possible. If some people use italics for emphasis while others use bold, there will be less uniformity and that will hurt the UX when rapidly seeing content with different formatting. However there is a balance between uniformity and functionality.

1 Answer 1


The question actually has two aspects:

  1. Use two different highlighting styles for different words (resulting in three types of writing: normal, bold and italic)
  2. Double highlight which allows highlighting parts of highlighted words (resulting in four different types of writing: normal, bold, italic, bolditalic)

A biology student's flashcard for "Daisy" could have:

  • Bellis perennis (Family: Asteraceae, Kingdom: Plantae)

This would require and make sense to allow for all types of mark up to be used.

Your real question should be, if user are likely to perceive it as restraining, if you do not offer those options. Personally, I would opt for a one-highlight-only approach. You can enforce a uniform look accross the site, and still implement a feature where users can choose, if they want to use italics or bold as their way of highlighting (without affecting other users' preferences and experience)

  • 1
    +1 but the convention is to italicize the genus name as well as the specific epithet in a species name.
    – DQdlM
    Dec 3, 2012 at 17:08
  • Hehe, actually picked the daisy example at random, no offence meant to biologists' conventions ,)
    – kontur
    Dec 3, 2012 at 20:45

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