Tip: Avoid bad WYSIWYG buttons: text-decoration

Tip: bad WYSIWYG buttons: text decoration

Formatting web content: that's the new CONTENTED course I'm working on at present. And it struck me that every WYSIWYG editor has good buttons and bad buttons.

  • Bad, bad buttons: Italic, colour text, font size, centre text and right align text.
  • Use-with-caution button: Bold.
  • Good buttons: bullet list, numbered list, blockquote, insert link and insert image.
  • Excellent buttons: Heading 1, Heading 2, Paragraph styles etc.

Good buttons tell us something about the function of some text.

The bad buttons exist just for text-decoration. Only use them if you don't mind your content looking naff. In other words, use them if you are doing your own thing. Steer clear of them if you want to create a professional impression.

One of the most painful problems confronting web editors and managers is the staff member who thinks they are improving on the site design when they fiddle with FORMATTING.

Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine



Andy Chilton
Andy Chilton

April 15, 2008

I agree!

I’ve had a blog entry rolling around in my head for a while now, so after reading this I just had to get it out there.


I agree with the bad buttons you pointed out but even the good ones should mean semantic markup and not HTML markup. It’s all too easy to fall back into HTML mode otherwise – which you can tell by my blog entry, I don’t agree with.

Finally, I thought I’d thank you for writing this blog. I’ve been a reader for over a year now and always enjoy it.


April 16, 2008

Thanks Andy! Spot on, the blog posting also. Many WYSIWYGs seem to be made for the planet of the Apes. In the world I know, people are trying to separate look-and-feel from meaning-and-structure in various intelligent ways. In WYSIWYG-world, the two are jumbled together, and the average user is none the wiser.

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