The Essay Editor

Using The Essay Editor:

Note that elaborate formatting is not required for a good grade, and that over-formatting may detract from your essay. Most students can excel at the Grey School without using most of the editor formatting buttons. No matter how much or how little formatting is used, it is vital to use the Preview function before submitting your work. If you have a problem with editing your essay that is not answered in the text below, search the Ask a Local forum, or contact your Prefect.

Every web browser will show the editor buttons laid out slightly differently, but the buttons always line up in the same order from the top reading left to right. There are nine sets of buttons, each grouped by function. The sets are divided by dotted vertical lines. Many of the functions relate to some very specialized formatting commands, and not all of the functions are supported for final essay submission.


The first set of buttons relate to the behavior of the editor dialog as a whole.

• Maximize/Minimize Editor – This button causes the editor to expand to fill the whole browser window, thus hiding the other areas of the assignment page, including the left hand and right-hand columns and the assignment text. Or, if the editor is already expanded, clicking this button will return the editor to its smaller form and restores the view of the other features of the assignment page.

 

• Toggle HTML Source – This button activates “Text Mode.” In text mode, the HTML source formatting is shown. In Text Mode, the editing area is tinted. A line of text outside the tinted editing area indicates “You are in TEXT MODE. Use the [<>] button to switch back to WYSIWYG.” All other formatting buttons become inactive while in Text Mode. To learn more about HTML, search for “HTML tutorials” on the web; there are many!

 

• Spell-check– Independently of the Spell Check button, the active browser underlines misspelled words in red as they are entered. Clicking on the spell-check button opens a separate window which not only lists misspelled words, but also lists suggested corrections for those words. Select your preferred dictionary on the upper right. The default is “En_GB” which refers to the English used in Great Britain. Many may want to select “En_US” to use an American English dictionary. At the bottom right of the spell checker dialog are OK and Cancel buttons to exit the spell check dialog either saving the changes, or exiting without saving. If the OK/Cancel buttons are not visible, enlarge the dialog by dragging on the lower right corner.


The second set of buttons apply to the character formatting of the text entered into the text area. There are two ways to use these buttons. One is to first select some text in the text area and then click the desired formatting button. This applies the desired format to all of the currently selected text, but not to any text which is not selected. The second way to use these buttons is to click it at a specific insertion point. For example, to enter bold text, click in the text area where the bold text is to begin, then click on the B button and begin typing. After all the desired bold text is typed, click the B button again to stop using bold text formatting. Or, double-click to highlight content that has already been entered, then click the B button and the content will be bolded.

 

• Format – This drop-down menu lists some alternate styles. The default is Normal. Headings 1 through 6 not only apply a predefined style of formatting, they are also used to indicate sub-sections of your essay. Use of headings is not required for a perfect essay, however. The Formatted option on this menu is good for text which uses spaces, tabs, and/or line breaks to organize its information.

• B – Creates bold text.

• I – Italicizes the text.

• U – Underlines the text.

 

• Color text – This feature of the editor only works in the WYSIWYG portion of the editor. Because the Grey School website allows users to pick different color schemes [see Student's Area: Themes above], all colored text specifications are removed when the essay is previewed or saved.

 

• Current Style – This is not a button, but is a simple preview of the currently active style. For example, when the style is Normal, there is a simple capital A in the preview area. If the style is Bold, the capital A in the preview area is in bold text.

 

• Subscript – Sub-scripted text is smaller than Normal text and is placed partly below the bottom of the text line.

 

• Superscript – Super-scripted text is smaller than Normal text and is placed partly above the top of the text line.


The third set of buttons apply to how the blocks of text are positioned. All text in the same block as the insertion point will be affected by the text positioning buttons. The text positioning style of the block of current text has a slight line around its icon. These icons work like radio buttons: only one may be active for any given block of text.

 

• Left Justify – This is the default. Text starts in the first column for each line. The right-hand edge of the text is ragged, where some lines have more words in them in others.

 

• Center Justify – This centers the current block of text.

 

• Right Justify – All text lines are aligned in the last column and the left-hand edge of the text is ragged.

 

• Full Justify – Both the left-hand and right-hand edges of the text are forced to be straight. This is accomplished by stretching out the spaces between words on a line.


The fourth set of buttons deals with creating lists. Ordered lists may use numbers, Roman numerals, Arabic letters, or Greek letters to count the list items. List items are separated by a new line character, so typing the 'Return' key will automatically start the next list item and the count is automatically incremented.

 

• Ordered List – Starts an Ordered list, or changes the current un-ordered list into an ordered list, or applies a list count to selected lines. To break out of Ordered list format, click the Ordered list button while the insertion point is on the last empty list entry.

 

• Ordered List Options – This drop-down menu specifies the type of characters to use for the numbering of the ordered list. Changing this item applies to all items on the list in which the insertion point is placed, not just the item in which the insertion point may be located. This menu is only active when the insertion point is located within an Ordered list!

 

• Un-ordered List – Starts an Un-ordered list, or changes the current ordered list into an un-ordered list, or applies bullet points to selected lines. To break out of Un-ordered list format, click the Un-ordered list button while the insertion point is on the last empty list entry.


The fifth set of buttons includes options for inserting images and making links to other sites on the web.

• Insert Horizontal Rule – Inserts a horizontal line across the width of the text area. Students familiar with HTML can go into Text Mode and modify the attributes of the Horizontal Rule.

 

• Insert/Modify Link – Text must be selected for this button to work correctly. The selected text will become the link in the finished essay. Clicking this button opens a dialog which prompts for information needed to make a link to any web page. If the selected text is already a link, the fields in this dialog will already contain data. The first is the URL which is the address of the page to which you are linking. This is required to make a link! The title field is optional. The text entered as the title will show up as a tool tip when the mouse pointer hovers over the link before it is clicked. The dialog has OK and Cancel buttons in the lower right. If the OK/Cancel buttons are not visible, drag on the lower right corner of the dialog.

 

• Insert Image – Clicking this button opens a dialog which prompts for information needed to put an image into the essay.


There are only two buttons in the sixth set.

 

• Undo Last Action – Click this button to undo the previously made change. The button remembers multiple changes and can undo several steps with repeated clicks.

 

• Select All – Click this button to select all text in the text area.


The seventh set of buttons may be the most important for those students who work off-line in another word processor and then copy-paste the work into the school editor. It helps clear tags from one’s work and also includes the “Insert Table” button, which activates all the remaining sets of buttons in the editor.

 

• Clear MSOffice Tags – This button applies to all text within the text editor area. Use this button any time work is copy-pasted from Microsoft Office to the essay editor. Make sure to do a “Select All” before clicking the button.

 

• Clear Inline Font Specifications – This button applies to all text within the editor text area. Many of the options cleared by this button cannot directly be created by the editor, but instead would be options which have been entered as HTML commands in Text Mode, or through pasting text into the editor from another application. Three dialogs will come up one after the other asking about clearing certain types of formatting. Each formatting option can be cleared (OK) or left alone (Cancel), but all three dialogs will have to be acknowledged. The first is typefaces, the second is size, and the last is color. To learn more about Inline Font Specifications, search for “HTML font tag” on the web!

 

• Remove Formatting – This button applies only to selected text. It returns any mixture of bold, italic, and underlined text back to plain normal text.

 

• Editor Help – This button opens a small dialog listing the keyboard shortcuts available in the Editor.

 

• About this Editor – This button opens a small dialog containing the author credit for who created the Editor plug-in.


The last few buttons in the seventh set apply to using Tables in your essay. Learn more about table formatting by searching for “HTML table tutorials” on the web.

 

• Insert Table – This button opens up a dialog to initially set up a table. Use the dialog to specify the initial numbers for rows and columns. Several standard table options are supported.

 

• Toggle Table Borders – This button is not active until a table has been inserted. It turns the borders of the table in which the insertion point is located on if they are off, or off if they are on.

 

• Table Properties – This button opens the Table Properties dialog.


The eighth and ninth sets of buttons are only active when the text insertion point is inside of a table cell. Some of these functions are also duplicated on the table frame itself inside of the editor textarea. Click on a table cell to place the insertion point into that cell. Two small sets of controls appear at the left end of the upper edge of the cell and vertically on the left hand side of the cell. These controls consist of an X in a circle and arrows to either side of the center. The X in the circle deletes the current column or row. The arrows to either side create new columns to the left or right, or new rows above or below the current row. These controls will move from cell to cell as the insertion point is moved by clicking into the various cells.

 

• Row Properties – This button opens the Row Properties dialog.

 

• Insert Row Before – This button inserts a row into the table above the currently active cell.

 

• Insert Row After – This button inserts a row into the table below the currently active cell.

 

• Delete Row – This button deletes the row (and all of the text in all cells in the row) containing the currently active cell.

 

• Split Row – This button is disabled unless the currently active cell spans more than one row. Clicking this button keeps all the data in the current cell and restores the number of rows by adding empty cells.

 

• Insert Column Before – This button inserts a column to the left of the currently active cell.

 

• Insert Column After – This button inserts a column to the right of the currently active cell.

 

• Split Column – This button is disabled unless the currently active cell spans more than one column. Clicking this button keeps all data in the current cell and restores the number of columns by adding empty cells.


The ninth set of buttons applies specifically to a single cell within the current table. • Cell Properties – This button opens the Cell Properties dialog.

 

• Insert Cell Before – This button inserts a cell to the left of the currently active cell.

 

• Insert Cell After – This button inserts a cell to the right of the currently active cell.

 

• Delete Cell – This button deletes the currently active cell and all of its contents.

 

• Merge Cells – To use this button, at least two cells must be selected. Hold down the shift key and click in a cell other than the currently active cell to select a range of cells. With more than one cell selected, clicking this button merges the cell into a single large cell. All of the data within the cells being merged is also merged into the new cell.

Split Cell – This button is disabled unless the currently active cell spans more than one column and more than one row. Clicking this button keeps all the data in the original cell in the upper left cell, while the number of columns and rows are restored by adding empty cells.


Below the rows of buttons is the text editing area in which your essay text and formatting is entered. A small label below the lower left corner of the text editing area says, “Path:” and will be followed with a brief description of the formatting commands which are in effect at the current insertion point.”