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What is the difference between

This (indentation by the character >)

and

this (indentation by  one line and four spaces)?

When are they supposed to be used?

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This is for quoting sources.

This is for code snippets.

Note that the second one is not often used on physics.SE, the formatting options (with the exception of MathJax, which varies from site to site) are the same across the network.

There really isn't any other use for either of these. Please, don't use them for emphasis, that's what italics and bold text are for. (Don't overuse either of those, though.)

And yes, it is good etiquette to properly format your answers. The code formatting retains indentation (which everyone in the universe appreciates) and please do use the formatting to note when you are quoting a source. If you don't use them in an obvious location, users will usually edit in the formatting (and some may even downvote) but it is not mandatory. It's just highly encouraged.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are their any other uses too ? Also is it mandatory to use these ? $\endgroup$ – InquisitiveMind Dec 28 '16 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ @InquisitiveMind no, its not mandatory but good etiquette. It's what most people do. Note that > is usually used for a verbatim copy of the statement of some exercise (in homework-and-exercises questions mostly). This makes it clear where the statement ends and where the question/discussion begins. $\endgroup$ – AccidentalFourierTransform Dec 28 '16 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ @InquisitiveMind I suppose that could depend on what you mean by "mandatory" $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 28 '16 at 20:20

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