Netscape Composer:  An Introduction

Tutorial 3:  Working with Text

Adding text to your web page is the first thing you'll want to do once the page properties are set.  If you can use a word processor such as MSWord, you will find that most text operations are the same.  To work with text we will use the formatting toolbar, the toolbar directly above the white space on the page:



You can begin typing in the upper left hand corner of the white space on the page.  You will probably want to start with some sort of a heading.  The size of headings is normally larger than that of regular text.  First type the heading you want.  Then highlight the text (click the left mouse button, hold it down--don't let go, and drag it across the text you want to highlight.  Let go when you reach the end.) you want to use as your heading.  On the far left of the toolbar where it now says "Normal," click the down arrow to the right, and select the size heading you want (1 is the largest, 6 is the smallest) by clicking on it.  Voilà!  Big text. Here are some samples:

This is Heading 1.

This is Heading 2

This is Heading 3

This is Heading 4.

This is Heading 5.
This is Heading 6.

Fonts, Font sizes, colors

Next, you can select the font you wish to use.  But, a warning is in order here.  It is wise to choose standard fonts that are found on all computers (both Macs and PCs).  If you choose a fancy font that you have installed on your computer, someone else who is viewing your page on a computer that doesn't have that fancy font installed will not be able to see what you see.  Fancy effects with fonts should be done with an image editor such as PaintShop Pro and then inserted into the page as an image.  Stick to the basics when it comes to fonts:  Times New Roman, Arial and Helvetica are always safe choices.  If you wish to change the font, click on the down arrow of the box that now says "Variable Width" and choose your font by clicking on it.

You can also change the size of the font.  I beg of you, do not use teeny tiny font sizes.  Some of your readers are over 50, myopic, astigmatic and decrepit.  Have pity on us.  Select font size before you begin typing, or to change the font size of text you've already typed, highlight the text, and then click the down arrow to the right of the box that now says "12."  You can choose either a larger or smaller font size here.

Color is also an option.  To select the color of text you want, click the down arrow to the right of the box that shows a black square now.  Either select the color before you begin typing, or highlight the text whose color you want to change and then choose the color.

Styles (bold, italics, underlined): 

Just as in MSWord, you can make text appear as bold, italicized or underlined.  Select the text you want to change, then click the first "A" for bold, the second one for italics or the third one for underlined text.  Easy, n'est-ce pas?  You can also use combinations of these.  Select the text and then click both the first and the second "A" for bold, italicized text, for example.

Bullet Lists: 

To begin a bullet list, simply click on the bullet button pictured above.  The following will appear:
Then, begin typing where the cursor is blinking.  To add another bulleted item to the list, press "Enter" and a second bullet will appear.

One of the most annoying features of Netscape Composer (and MSWord, which works the same way) is that every time you hit "Enter" a bullet will appear.  At some point, you will reach the end of your list, but have an extra bullet.  How do you get rid of it?  You have to click the bullet button again and that extrat dot will go away.  I find this quite aggravating, but so far have found no other way to turn it off.

Numbered Lists: 

Numbered lists work exactly the same way as bullet lists.  Just click on the number button pictured above and the list will begin.  Notice that in Composer, you will not see a number.  You will see the number symbol (#) instead.  When you view your page in Navigator, you will see the actual numbers.  One nice feature is that you can insert items in the middle of your list and Composer will automatically renumber the entire list for you.  However, once again, Composer has the annoying habit of continuing to put a number every time you hit "Enter."  Turn it off by clicking the number button again at the end.


I think these last three buttons on the toolbar are the greatest things since sliced bread.  Alignment is a royal pain when you are hard coding HTML, but it is as simple as the click of a button with these tools.  Let's look at the first two buttons.  These are what I call the "shove 'em over" buttons.  You can increase or decrease the amount of an indent by highlighting the text you want to move and then clicking either the right or left button.  This is especially useful if you choose a background with a left edge.  Your text may run over too far to the left and be smack on top of the edge of the background.  Simply highlight everything (you can click and drag or click on "Edit" then "Select All") and "shove it over" to the right.  Below is an example of text that I have shoved over once, twice, then three times: Alignment:

The third button in this series allows you to align both text and images.  Simply highlight the section you want to change, click the alignment button and three choices will present themselves:

The top button is the alignment button.  When you click it, the next three choices will drop down. 

If you click the first one, you will align left 

The second one will center your text or image. 

The third one will align right.

Spell check: 

Finally, you will want to run a spell check on what you have typed.  Place your cursor at the beginning of your page, then click the spelling button.

Are we having fun yet?  Let's do some more ...

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© 2000 by Pat Pecoy
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