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V8 -- Using the Rich Text Editor

The Rich Text Editor is used to create and revise Formatted Text Block elements. As we have already discussed, Simple Text Blocks are elements that will re-wrap to fill the available space, and which are presented on-screen in a uniform type face. Formatted Text Blocks differ in that you can control the layout using standard HTML numbered and unnumbered list structures, forced new lines and paragraph breaks, type choices (face, size, and style), embedded links and images, etc.

You can use the Rich Text Editor directly for composition, or you can copy text from other software and paste it into the editor window. The current version of the Rich Text Editor works only with the Windows version of Microsoft Internet Explorer and with Mozilla-based browsers, such as Firefox, on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

  1. Login, navigate to the page you want to work on, click on the pencil tool icon at the upper-right, and select "Work on this Page" or "Work on this Page (All Changes)."

  2. Click on "Click to insert new element", and choose a Formatted Text Block from among the "Text Elements" category in the Element Gallery.

  3. Your page will now display "Click here to define the Formatted Text Block element"; click on that to bring up the Rich Text Editor lightbox.

  4. The figure here illustrates the Rich Text Editor lightbox, for a Formatted Text Block (without header):

    Rich Text Editor (V6)

    You can enter text into the text block (or header, if you are working with a text block that has one) by typing or by copying from another window and pasting. If text in the Text Block window has been selected, several of the toolbar buttons that are greyed-out in the illustration above will become active and be displayed with full intensity. As you can see, there are two rows of toolbar buttons, each row having a group to the left and a group to the right. If the lightbox is set too narrow to display all of the toolbar icons, the ones at the right end of each of the four groups will be concealed as necessary, but can be seen by clicking on the "overflow" icon () for that group.

  5. Typing new material:

    Beware special characters, such as "curly" or "smart" quotes and apostrophes, long dashes, solid bullets, etc. The numerical codes for such characters differ between Windows and Macintosh, so that if the raw character is placed into the text block, it will look fine to you, but will be an entirely different character when viewed by users of the other platform. There are special HTML codes that exhibit the same problem (e.g., "Ӓ" -- where many choices for the digits between the "#" and the ";" will generate different characters on different platforms); other special HTML codes are platform-agnostic (e.g., "&text;" -- where the text between the "&" and the ";" is case-sensitive and determines the character to be displayed). This problem can also occur with text from any of the methods discussed below.

  6. Copy and paste from a browser window:

    If the information you want to include on your page is already available on the Web (e.g., in the previous version of your subsite), then you can examine the page where it is already in place, run the mouse through the text to highlight it, and select "Copy" from the "Edit" menu (or use the equivalent keyboard short-cut). Then go to the page in CommonSpot where you want to include this text, follow steps one and two of this sequence, and then choose "Paste" from the "Edit" menu.

  7. Copy and paste raw HTML:

    You can get the raw HTML from a text editor, such as WordPad, if the HTML file is on your computer, or by selecting View Source in your browser. Only select and copy HTML sections that are between the <BODY> and </BODY> tags, not including those tags.

    Before pasting your HTML into the formatted text block entry area, click on the "HTML" button (the one with yellow and green segments split diagonally) in the upper-left quadrant of the toolbar. Please be aware that some HTML constructs will not survive unchanged when you save and re-edit the text block; one that fails is Definition List structures if the DT segment contains tags for H1, H2, etc. (We plan either to expand this item or to put a link here to a discussion of what HTML structures do and don't work, and possible work-arounds for those that don't work.)

  8. Copy and paste from Word:

    Choosing "formatted" when pasting will preserve as much as possible of the appearance of the original document for those of your audience who look at the page using Microsoft Internet Explorer on Windows, but will include Microsoft-specific and Windows-specific codes that will make your information more diffcult to read with other browsers and on other platforms.

  9. Font issues:

    If your font is too small, this will render the text unreadable for part of your audience. After pasting, use the mouse to highlight all the new text, and choose a font face that is sans-serif (e.g., "Default Font") and a font size of "Font size" (to let it use the default size) or "2 (11 px)" -- which is slightly larger than the default -- or larger. If you choose a serif font, be sure to choose a size of "2 (11 px)" or larger

    The "Default Font" is actually a comma-separated list of sans-serif faces (which are more easily read at small sizes), one of which is sure to be installed on all Macintosh systems, and another one of which is sure to be installed on all Windows systems. Please be aware that if you choose a face specification that is a list of multiple faces, such as "Default Font," the face menu will immediately change to the first one on the list that is installed on your computer. CommonSpot will still generate HTML, when the page is published, that includes the full list.

    The selection of font face and size choices available in CommonSpot may change in the future.

  10. When editing a formatted text block in "Normal" mode (not "HTML" mode), use the key combination "Shift-Enter" to create a line break that is not a paragraph break. When editing items in a bulleted list, you can use the "Shift-Enter" key combination two consecutive times to create a multi-paragraph list item, with no bullet for the new paragraph (e.g., see the prior item of this list).

  11. The tool with the chain icon is available when text is highlighted and is used to make that highlighted text link to another location. It will bring up the standard CommonSpot linking dialog box.

  12. If the text is already linked, you should remove that link before re-linking it to another destination: click within the linked text, and then observe the bottom margin of the RTE (toward the left, just below the main text-entry box). The "<Anchor>" should be highlighted; if so, click on the adjacent "Remove Tag" to clear away the outdated link. Then use the method of the prior point to build a link to the new destination.

  13. Place your mouse over each of the other icons in the four quadrants of the toolbar. You will observe the short name for each that is displayed, in case the icon is not sufficiently suggestive.