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Message Composition Tips and Tricks

This page is about the message composition text box and its toolbar, using HTML markup.


Line Breaks

In editing a message (Reply or New Topic) the Enter key inserts a line break. It does not break a paragraph, nor a span of formatting. To break a paragraph or formatting span use Shift+Enter to insert a paragraph break. Note: the editor for Wiki pages works the other way around: Enter inserts a paragraph break and Shift+Enter inserts a line break. In other editing contexts if Enter doesn't do what you expect try Shift+Enter.

Quoting part of a message (Reply only)

You can have part of a message inserted into your reply automatically by selecting a region of the message before clicking the Reply link below the message.

The selected text will be inserted with blockquote formatting. You can remove the blockquote format using , Blockquote, or you can break the quote into segments using the Enter key.

Select your text markup language in your profile

Click on your name in the upper right corner to drop down a menu. Select Account in that menu. On the account page click Preferences In the list of buttons on the left. On the preferences page use the Post Preference dropdown list to select the markup language you prefer. The choices are:

  • HTML — Hyper-Text Markup Language ("HTML") is the formatting language used by web pages and email messages.

This is the default selection in profiles. Only this selection gives you a formatting toolbar when you create a New Topic or Reply.

  • Markdown — Markdown is a "lightweight" markup language which looks and works like plain text as you edit it. It uses particular characters or sequences of characters to represent formatting such as bold, italic, bullet lists and numeric lists, links and headings. In Markdown you will only see the Quote Whole Post and Add Attachments buttons in the toolbar.

If you select Markdown posting then your messages will be converted to HTML when you send them. This is because few email user interfaces support Markdown as an alternative to HTML formatting..

  • Plain Text — Plain Text is just that. No bold, italic, fonts, colors or other formatting.


If you don't see the formatting toolbar shown above, you may not have selected HTML as your text markup language (in Profile, Preferences). See the section above on how to select your text markup language. Or this group may be set for Plain Text Only (not HTML); only a group moderator or owner can change that setting.

If you see a shortened version of the toolbar your screen may not be wide enough for the full toolbar, some tools will be unavailable. Or this group may be set to block the use of font and color formatting ("Normalize HTML Emails"); only a group moderator or owner can change that setting.

Most of the formatting tools are similar to those commonly found in email composition tools, those with special meaning in are listed below. Hover over any tool to see its name.

Quote Whole Post (Reply only)

Use Quote Whole Post to insert a quote of the message you are replying to. The quote will be inserted at the top of the reply edit box regardless of the current cursor location.

The message will be inserted with blockquote formatting. You can remove the blockquote format using , Blockquote, or you can break the quote into segments using the Enter key.


This drop-list lets you select pararaph for body text, or one of several header levels. In Wiki pages the header levels are useful along with the TOC tool.


Use Blockquote to add or remove blockquote formatting. Note that this is a toggle: only one level of blockquote can be inserted; if the original text has multiple levels of blockquote all will be removed. To do multiple-level blockquotes one can use the Source code pop-up, but that requires familiarity with HTML code.

Show Advanced Toolbar

Use Show Advanced Toolbar on the right end of the toolbar to open up a second row of buttons with advanced features.

Ω Special character

Use Special character to open a pop-up with special characters. Make note of the blank squares — many contain invisible but useful characters such as non-breaking space.


Preview opens a pop-up dialog that shows you how the finished message body will appear. This can differ from the WYSIWYG editing window due to word-wrap and possibly if you've manipulated the message source code (below).

 Source code

Use Source code to open a source code pop-up. This can be used to view and edit the raw HTML of the message. It is useful for things like:

When you click the Ok button in the pop-up your changes will appear in the editing window.



Blockquote affects more than expected (Reply only)

Fixed 2017-06-15.

If you quote part of a message, or the whole post (see above) in your reply, your edit buffer will end up with the blockquote at the top. If you place the cursor below the blockquoted area and type and/or paste text there, that text becomes part of a single paragraph span. An attempt to use Blockquote to make a portion of what you typed or pasted there will instead make the whole of what you typed or pasted a part of the quote above. Reported 2017-05-29 and 2017-06-06.

Enter takes two clicks to break a line

It has been reported that under some circumstances it takes two clicks of the enter key to break a text line in two.

Flash of HTML

Fixed 2017-06-15.

When opening a pending message the Source code will flash in the edit box before being immediately replaced by the rendered text. Reported 2017-06-10.

Lag while typing

Mostly fixed 2017-06-15.

In some circumstances users had experienced a lag in screen update when typing messages. This seems to begin after some amount of typing and gets progressively worse as typing continues. Not all users experience this lag. Reported 2017-06-05.