Entries tagged with “formatting” from CMS

Adding Formatting in Collage

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No one wants to read a huge block of text on the web. Visitors scan text looking for words that are important to them. Formatting can help visitors find those words and keep reading down the page.

In a previous post, we cautioned users not to paste directly from Word, but to paste the content into a text editor first. The only problem with this is that is strips out any formatting. Formatting can easily be added back in Collage.

In the toolbar, there is a button called “style.” style button.png

formatting2.jpgWhen you click on this, it gives a bunch of options, you only need to worry about the first six: normal, then 5 heading choices. The headings can be used to set off text as a subheadline or to highlight blocks of text. To the left is an example of what each heading looks like.

The other ways to set off text are by using bold and italics. A word of caution though, using blocks of italics can break the template, so use it sparingly. Also, you’ll notice that the underline option is grayed out. We recommend against using underlining on the web so as not to confuse visitors with hyperlinked text.

A previous entry titled “Step Away From the Spacebar“ gives tips on using indent, bulleting and tables to better format your pages.

The styles won't always show in your document the way they appear live. The best way to see how the page will look is to preview it by selecting the preview tab in your document.

If you make a mistake, simply highlight the text again and select "normal" under the style button. Now you can try again.

Give formatting a try and let us know if you run into any issues.

What's With the Crazy Fonts?

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We often get notes or emails from Collage users concerned about the fonts in their tasks. Sometimes there are multiple fonts on one page or varied sizes - neither of which seems to have any rhyme or reason.

What likely has happened is that the text was directly pasted from Microsoft Word or some other application into Collage. The result is sometimes a crazy, mixed-up page because Collage is trying to recognize the code from the other application and make it work.

The easiest solution to this problem is to either save your document as Plain Text (.txt) or copy and paste it into Notepad (or some other basic text editor) to strip out all the formatting. It does remove all the bold, italics and fancy headlines you had in Word, but it's a cleaner end product.

You can add formatting in Collage, but that's for another entry ...

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

Indenting

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).


indent2.jpg


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: https://blog.uml.edu/cms/2009/02/helpful-keystrokes.html

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).


list4.jpg

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).

table4.jpg

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).

insert-table-line.jpg

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

table-grid3.jpg

Or you can choose to have a cleaner look and create a table without grids, by keying in a value of "0:"
table-nogrid3.jpg

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.






Collage Tips & Tricks

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Collage can be quirky so here are a few tips and tricks to make things a little easier.

 

Toolbar Disappears

If your toolbar disappears or becomes grayed out, click outside the body text box and then click back in. That should make the toolbar reappear.

Creating Links

1) If the same link is needed more than once (either on the same page or on a seperate page), copy and paste the link and the link remains active. It's not necessary to re-type and re-link.

2) When linking items in a list, Collage may mistakenly group individual items into one big link. For these link grouping problems, try keeping items double-spaced before linking. Then, single space the items (NOTE: to single space items, hit the "SHIFT, ENTER," keys) after the items are linked.

3) Collage gives users the ability to type within a linked word or phrase. Therefore, to change a URL to a linked word or phrase (eg. to change http://www.uml.edu to UMass Lowell), it's not necesarry to delete the URL and type the phase and then link it. Simply type URL and hit the space bar (hitting the space bar automatically links the URL). Then type the word or phrase anywhere within the URL (eg. http://www.uml.edu), delete the surrounding URL text, and the word or phrase remains actively linked.

Formatting

All text should be in Verdana font. If not, select all (control/a) and click "Clear Formatting," on the lower right corner of the screen. If this doesn't work cut and paste the text into Notepad or save a Microsoft Word file as a  "text document." This will reformat the text. Then re-save the Collage document (be sure to do this, as it clears any ghost formatting that may linger) and paste in the re-formatted text.

Ordered, Unordered Lists

To remove bullets or numbers in lists, use the "outdent" button on the upper toolbar.

Styles

Using the various styles in the "style" icon can have advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is it can be used to give text variety, dimension or "pop." The disadvantage is it can often wreak havoc on surrounding text.

One issue is having the style formatting for a headline holding through the document. To fix this, try deleting the funky new copy and saving the page. Then, try re-typing in the style-affected area. The old style should have vanished. Often, saving or re-saving a page will eliminate style issues. 

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