An answer I posted ages ago was recently edited, and so I took a quick peek to see what had changed. The alteration was to capitalisation of 'MiKTeX', etc., which would normally be fine. However, the relevant parts were quotations, where I was pointed to what someone else had said (in comments). As such, I'd kept exactly the format they had originally used.

My question is therefore what the 'correct' approach is when quoting: do we stick with the original even if it's non-standard, or do we always standardise formatting (and presumably spelling)? Both approaches seem reasonable to me, so I'd like to see what the overall feeling is.

Note: If I'd been quoting another question or answer, it would be OK to tidy up the source and so the quote too. However, non-mods can't edit comments, so the situation seems a little different.

  • ...whoops. Good question!
    – Werner Mod
    Oct 27, 2012 at 7:19
  • The idea that you can't correct the errors in the source because it's a comment is really superficial, because it's based purely on a technical shortcoming of the system and not on the fact that comments are somehow more inherently immutable than answers or questions. If you'd correct the text before quoting if it was a question or answer (because you can), then you should also correct the quote from the comment. Nov 2, 2012 at 19:26

2 Answers 2


Obvious typos can and should be corrected when quoting, at least when not doing philology, which we aren't. I agree with @AlanMunn that we're in an informal environment, so there's no point in propagating a typing error or a nonconformity with common usage in the site, such as peculiar capitalizations of program names or way of writing package names (I'm not referring to another well known question about capitalization).

When we are faced with something that's not a typo, the question is more subtle. However one should take into account that comments are different from answers and many times it has happened to me that I realized a comment was not in the best form. In some cases I removed and rewrote it (the time limit for edit doesn't always allow for corrections post facto) if the problem is not simply a typo; but I'm afraid that some of them are imperfect (or even blatantly wrong) without any possibility to do something: if nobody draws attention to the error, they remain there unchanged, as it's impossible to check all our comments spread over hundreds of threads.

Quote the comment literally, if you want, or quote it indirectly: "In @XYZ's comment it is suggested to do in this way" and be polite in correcting the mistake.


Simple. We're taking the academic/legal approach here: Don't change quotes, that's why they're quotes. If you want to make it clear that some obscure spelling isn't your fault, but was in the source, add a [sic]:

I love lAtEx [sic], it's really awesome!

If somebody else changes a quote, make a rollback.

If you can change the source (e.g. because it's on tex.sx) and if it is an acceptable edit, you may of course change the source first.

Then again, if you're referencing a comment (or something else uneditable) that's misspelled and the typos are really bugging you, just paraphrase the comment instead of quoting it, or put it in reported speech: He is indeed very fond of LaTeX. / She said she really loved LaTeX, and that it was really awesome.


So far I only addressed spelling. As for formatting, I'd say there are two approaches:

  1. Get rid of all formatting and display the quote as plain text.
  2. Keep the formatting as exactly as technically possible.

If you want to emphasize some part of the quote through formatting for purposes of your own, you can do that, but make sure to add a (emphasis by doncherry) at the end.

  • 4
    If you find yourself thinking you should add [sic] you should think many times before doing so, since it is almost certain to come off as being obnoxious in an informal environment, (which TeX.sx is) since it draws attention to the mistake, whatever it is.
    – Alan Munn
    Oct 28, 2012 at 18:28
  • @AlanMunn Completely agree (chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/6615463#6615463) Oct 28, 2012 at 21:59
  • I agree, but the [sic] wasn't supposed to be my main point, rather a kind of a last resort, that would imho still be preferable to changing a quote (while leaving the source unchanged).
    – doncherry
    Oct 28, 2012 at 23:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .