Why is Text Formatting for Content Types Limited?


Probably the most frequently asked question from users new to Metro Publisher is, "Why is text editor within content pages is limited to some simple edit tools?"

The answer to that question is that the text editor within the content pages is limited by design. Within the content editor for content types, Metro Publisher currently allows these options:

  • Normal (Paragraph)
  • Header
  • Formatted
  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Horizontal Rule
  • Subscript
  • Superscript
  • Blockquote
  • Ordered List
  • Unordered List

There are several reasons for this, the most important being that Metro Publisher stores your content in very clean XML. If you've had experience with other CMS's, even popular ones such as Wordpress or Drupal, especially if you've ever tried to reuse that same data for another application, the you'll know that HTML/text editors have a bad habit of inserting lots of munged HTML.

Keeping out the bad HTML and using clean XML ensures the consistency of your content when used in a variety of other ways and on other devices such as mobile. A practical application of this can be seen in our recently released API that enables Metro Publisher clients to build mobile apps and other services via third parties.


Consistency of your data is a critical factor in re-using your content in the context of a device other than the browser.

Please note that content titles automatically become h1 headers, which are sometimes considered relevant for SEO purposes.

What Does This Mean?

Many of the tools found within completely open HTML/text editors make little sense in terms of the content of, say, an article or blog entry while providing ample opportunity for your content to get polluted with bad code.

Here are some common examples:

Line Break vs. Paragraph Break

A line break versus a paragraph break is a perfect example. In general, for all content types, everything that is being stored as XML does not allow <br> because when that text is re-flowed in a different context, like a mobile app or mobile browser, the <br> will likely be problematic as the page will be much narrower.

Multiple Returns

Often interns or editors will click Return/Enter multiple times in order to get more vertical space between paragraphs. In the context of a different device or with pagination, there is no telling how those returns will render. As a result Metro Publisher strips those out and will not store empty paragraphs or line breaks.

Text Styles and Colors

One of the most frequent issues concerns various text style options in a completely open HTML/text editor. The lack of many text style and color options within Metro Publisher at first seems to restrict the creativity of an editor or intern to provide flourishes when publishing content. But one obvious question is, "Why, for example, would you possibly want to have colored or right aligned text hard coded within the body of an article?" Those elements should be defined within the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) that determine the look of the page elements.

The style sheets serve as a de facto "style guide" that maintains consistency of your content. The CSS lives completely outside of the hard coded elements inserted by an HTML/text editor into the page.

Anchor Tags

Anchor tags are also problematic because they require a specific XHTML tag ID to be called which will vary with editing of the respective piece of content, and requires code that isn't easily deciphered without the appropriate knowledge.

Should you wish to include an anchor tag to the comments section below your content, you can do so by manually adding a link within your article with the following format:

<a href="#comments">Link Text Here</a>

So if, for example, you would like the link text to be "See discussion", them the URL you need to enter over that link text in the Content Editor is merely:



Customizing Text Styles with CSS

If you have specific styling needs, you might consider upgrading your service to a pro account. As a pro user you will have access to the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that define how the various text styles render in a browser.

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    Roanoker Magazine

    Thanks for this, good to know. One suggestion we have is for you try to find a good way to allow center and right justification, that is something we would find useful.

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