Step Away from the Space Bar: Better Ways to Format Your Pages


Formatting content in Collage can be tricky. Many Collage users have trouble particularly with actions like indenting text, spacing text or creating soft returns (single line breaks). Their solution has been to hit the space bar multiple times to create the desired effect. Trouble is, this method causes the page template to collapse. Here's what a collapsed page template looks like (notice the content area has dropped below the left-hand navigation):


collapsed-page.jpgFor the record, hitting the space bar repeatedly creates a string of unbroken code (“     ”) that extends beyond the page template dimensions of 550 pixels maximum, which breaks the template causing the page to collapse.

Point being, using the space bar to format pages is not a viable solution and can cause more problems than it solves. Fortunately, there are alternatives.

Solutions to Avoid Using the Space Bar for Formatting


If you’re trying to indent text, rather than bang at the space bar, you should use the “Indent” feature. To do this, use your cursor to highlight the text you want to indent and click on the "Indent" icon on the toolbar (see image).


To undo this action, highlight the same text and click on the “Outdent” icon. This works for a sentence, a paragraph or multiple paragraphs.

Soft Returns

To create a "soft return" (single line break), refer back to a previous CMS Blog entry, "Stop Mousing Around: A Handy, Dandy Guide to Helpful Keystrokes," and go to "Soft Return" section:

Multiple Line Item Indents

If you want to indent multiple line items, you can use the "Indent" tool, but I'd recommend creating a list, either ordered (numbered) or unordered (bullets). To do this, use your cursor to highlight the text you want to indent and click on the "List" icon on the toolbar (see image).


Clicking the "List" icon prompts a drop down menu. Use your cursor to select the list type you want: "Ordered" numbers and letters, or "Unordered" choose from three different types of bullets. To undo this action, highlight the "bulleted" or "numbered" text and click on the "Outdent" button.

Spacing Items on the Same Line: Use a Table

I often see users trying to create spaces between items on the same line that span multiple line items. For an example of what I'm talking about, look at the staff list at the bottom of the Financial Aid Contact Us page. When the page was created orginally, the content was not in a table and was arranged in rows and columns using the space bar. This made the text stilted, uneven and awkwardly staggered. In short, the formatting looked a mess. The solution was to create a table to present the content in neat columns and rows. 

To create a table, click on the "Table" icon on the toolbar (see image).


Once you've opened the table editing feature. You have the option of creating a table with as many or as few rows and columns as needed. What's more, you can choose to show or hide the grids, by entering a numerical value in the border field (as shown  below).


By selecting 1 or above (grid line thickness), you'll create a table with grids:


Or you can choose to have a cleaner look and create a table without grids, by keying in a value of "0:"

In closing, all of the above examples should help you with your page formatting by weening you off the space bar crutch. And remember that good page formatting is a key component of web usability and help website users discover important information on your page faster and more effectively, making for a better Web experience.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ken Lyons published on March 18, 2009 2:36 PM.

Got the Padlock Blues? How to Check In Files that are Checked Out was the previous entry in this blog.

Believe It or Not: You Have the Power to Create a New Webpage is the next entry in this blog.

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