Softconf's START Conference Manager v2 is a web-based conference management system that is widely used, at least in the field of computational linguistics. Academics using the site enter plain-text reviews, but the site appears to support a limited range of plain-text markup that gets rendered in HTML upon review submission.

For example, *emphasis* is rendered as emphasis and * item on a new line is rendered as:

  • item

This feature is undocumented, but knowledge of the feature could help reviewers write more engaging and legible reviews.

I tried to guess the markup for other formatting styles, but without success. The two patterns above look like Markdown or reStructuredText, but **bold** does not work, nor does `monospace`, so it appears to be some custom solution. Does anybody know what other formatting styles are supported?

In the absence of official documentation about the feature, the answer to this question can make the information more discoverable for future reviewers.

  • I respect the 5 votes to close the question, but I'm confused as to why it's considered out of scope. This is about software that academics use for reviewing for a conference. According to the on-topic guidelines It appears related to "academic writing and publishing" (specifically peer-review) and isn't related to the topics to avoid. In case Softconf's CMT is not well-known outside my field, I've edited the question to give more background.
    – goodmami
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 3:47

1 Answer 1


I emailed Softconf's support and Rich Gerber replied with the following:

The review is always considered a plain text entity, but to display it we insert a bit of markup where we believe markup is warranted. But *this* will add emphasis, and you can also use bold tags <b>like this</b>. There is also implied ordered lists, by numbers starting lines. You can also insert HTML super and subscripts. That's about it.

That is:

  • *emphasis*
  • <b>bold</b>
  • * bulleted list item
  • 1. numbered list item
  • x<sup>superscript</sup>
  • x<sub>subscript</sub>
  • 2
    also ---- on its own line will make a horizontal rule
    – postylem
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 3:49

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