I recently stumbled across a little trick to prevent certain characters from being interpreted as formatting commands. The trick is to put a backslash character before the character you wish to display literally. This method is used in many programming languages, which is how I happened to try it.
The back-slash looks like this: \
Here is an example:
Desired text: 2*3*4
Problem: text surrounded by asterisks is interpreted as italic text
Result: 234 (notice 3 is italic or slanted)
Solution: type it in as 2\*3\*4
This works for other special characters, like <, >, and _.
It doesn’t work for spaces; a backslash followed by a space renders a backslash followed by a space.
To render the backslash itself, type a double backslash \\.
(To display that, I actually had to type four backslashes!)