Russ Lipton Documents Radio
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How To Enter Text Into Your Weblog

I could take up a surprising amount of your mental bandwidth with this small matter of entering text into your weblog. Stop me before I kill (more of your brain cells) again!

You no doubt noticed when you first installed Radio that your weblog home page features a text entry area right in the middle of your Internet browser. (This same text editing area is used for entering stories as well as for entering weblog posts).

I have long accepted the trade-off between miserable online editing in return for near-instant Internet content publishing. You, on the other hand, may fall into the broader category of people who see this and say, "huh?"

"I thought word processing programs were the way we write on computers."

Oh ye of little faith, hearken and learn.

Two Writing Modes: WYSIWYG or Source

If you own Internet Explorer on a Windows platform, you have two choices for editing within Radio's text entry area - WYSIWYG ('what you see is what you get') or Source. Everyone else has one choice (or no choice depending on how you look at it: Source editing. See What Is The Difference Between WYSIWYG and Source Editing? for the sad story.

You can switch back-and-forth between WYSIWYG or Source within the same weblog post by clicking the radio buttons just below the text edit area.

In WYSIWYG mode, you may style your text much as you would in any word processor. In Source mode, you style your text by adding HTML tags to it. Put another way, WYSIWYG mode automatically generates an HTML document for you behind the scenes as you write. By contrast, you create the HTML document by hand in Source mode.

Editing In WYSIWYG Mode

Writing in WYSIWYG mode resembles writing in any word processor, except this one targets texts to your main purpose - creating a web-aware, HTML text file.

Styling Commands

Let's take a look at the styling commands first - these are the ones that begin with the features for bold-facing (B), italicizing (I) and underlining (U) your text.

Use these just as you would in a word processing program. Select the text of interest; then click on the styling command. If you click on 'B', the selected text will be bold-faced.

To reverse the operation re-select the text and also re-select the same command. So, choosing 'B' a second time will UN-bold the selected text.

Text Justification

Buttons for left-, center- and right-justifying your text sit next to the styling commands.

To use these, click the cursor within a given line to which you want to apply a justifying command or select a range of text and then select the desired justification.

To undo a justification command, select a text and then choose one of the other justification options (left, center or right).

Lists and Indents

The next four commands offer different ways to construct lists or indents - as an ordered list, unordered list, remove an indent, create an indent.

To use these commands, click your cursor in the line of the text to which you want them to apply and select the command. Selecting the same command again 'undoes' what had just been done to the text.

Creating Hypertext Links

You will probably find yourself using the little globe icon next to the justification commands most of all. Create hypertext links with this feature as follows

1. Select the text that will serve as the jumping-off point for the link.

2. Click the globe icon. A small window will open up.

3. Enter the URL into this window.

4. Click 'okay'. Radio will automatically return you to the text area and display the link within the text area.

(The simplest way to undo such a link is to erase the jumping-off text itself within the text area and start again).

Radio does not check the validity of the link that you enter. That is your responsibility.


This pull-down menu above the styling area applies HTML heading commands to a range of selected text from larger (Heading 1) to smaller (Heading 6). Use the 'normal' command to reverse a heading selection back to the default text used in the rest of your weblog text.

If you would like to remove of all your styled formatting (bold, italics, etc) from a range of text, select the range and then apply the 'clear formatting' command.


The font menu offers you a (rather narrow) choice of either Arial, Verdana, Times or Courier. Select a range of text and then one of these fonts in order to have your font applied to the text.

Note that one of your Radio templates may already define the font that will be applied to your text(s). Such a template will overrule the default font within your text editing area.

However, if you choose a specific font for a specific range of text here, that choice will over-ride the template-defined font for that range of text. Remember, Radio is actually constructing HTML commands 'under the covers'. If you select a font here, it is as though you said - "make sure that the font I specify here is the one that appears when the weblog is published, no matter what I have already specified in the template."


These choices (1 to 7) follow the HTML convention of scaling text from small (=1) to large (=7). To apply a new size, select the range of text in the text entry area and then select the desired size from 1 to 7 to apply to the text.

While the visual appearance of font-sized text often resembles text to which you have applied headings from the paragraph menu, these apply two different HTML commands. You needn't worry about this. I just want to explain why two very similar 'looks' are generated by two different features in your text entry window.


To apply a different color to your text(s), select a range of text and then select the specific color you wish from the Color pull-down menu.

(As I mentioned at the top of this topic, Radio automatically generates an HTML source document behind the scenes while you compose text in the WYSIWYG mode. You can verify this at any time by clicking on the 'Source' button. Looks pretty weird, no? Return to WYSIWYG mode by clicking the WYSIWYG radio button.)

Editing In Source Mode

When editing in source mode, you do it all baby. If you try to select text and then apply formatting commands (say, to boldface something), you will receive a complaining message. It don't work.

(Is it just me, Userland old-timers, or didn't Manila support simple insertion of HTML codes into the source text when the formatting commands were selected?)

The Source editing mode does still give you lots of help formatting your texts. For instance, I selected the word 'fun' below and then clicked 'I' (for italics) with my mouse. The EM (emphasis) codes were then entered automatically within Radio.

 The final output when published to your public site will indeed 'look right'. In the example above, you will see this in your weblog:

Are we having fun yet?

Personally, if I were editing in source mode, I would use a mixed visual-raw code HTML editor and then copy-paste the final HTML text into the Radio text area. Of course, I am comfortable editing HTML, including hand-entry of HTML. You may not be. (Try Learning HTML if you want to start down that path).

Happily, Internet Explorer comes with every personal computer that runs Microsoft Windows. You should never have to enter text in source mode on those machines unless you want to.

Listen Up

One of the most maddening aspects of browser-centered writing is the danger of losing your hard-fought efforts at any moment. Your computer may freeze. The Internet may freeze. You may hit a key in your browser that wipes out everything you have entered so far. ARRRGGGHHH!

There are several solutions to this dilemma.

1. Don't write in the browser; just paste to it as I just discussed above.

2. Post your changes often. Write a post or a story in small bursts. Make sure upstreaming is off, however, or your posts will be published before you are ready for their public unveiling.

3. Copy to the clipboard frequently. If something goes wrong, short of a complete machine crash, you can paste back to the text entry area.

4. Deal with it. This applies to 1. through 3. above.

The Bottom Line

Relax. If you are new to the Internet (or new to editing text in your browser), just remember you aren't required to use any of the editing features I describe in this topic.

Go ahead and type your text without any special formatting at all. When you are satisfied, post it to your weblog.

This is about having fun and sharing something that matters to you, not becoming an HTML jockey.

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Copyright 2002 © Russ Lipton.
Last update: 4/11/02; 2:27:57 PM.
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