When trying to position text for the web, you’ll quickly find that spaces don’t work well and tabs don’t exist. There are three very useful options for arranging text – indents, block quotes and lists – and each has its own idiosyncrasies. Here’s a quick overview of each and how you can put them to work in your content. Let’s start with indents.
In this example, we need to have several lines indented from the left margin. This is done by pressing the Indent button in the toolbar. Once you have used the button to indent your content, the Outdent button (shown grayed out to the left of the Indent button) will light up. Use it to return your text back to its previous location.
The block quote is used to spotlight large amounts of quoted text. The standard is to indent block quotes from both the left margin and the right. Some themes will further style them with borders, italicized text or even over-sized quotation marks. These design elements don’t usually show up on the editor – which is one reason you have a preview option available to view your content. The HTML tags also define this text as a quotation so handicapped users reading your content with a screen-reader device will be told this is a quotation. As a result, you should only use this function for actual block-size quotations. If you just want to indent several lines of text, use the Indent function.
In the world of HTML, this is known as an unordered list. You know it better as a bullet list. Since many people tend to scan the content of web pages, bullet lists are a great way to present information. List items (there are four list items in this example) can be a single line or multiple lines of text. Each time you press the Enter key you create a new list item. Once again, the style sheet used for the site will determine the actual styling that appears on the finished page. The amount of indent and spacing before and after each list item and the list collection is determined by the site’s theme. So are the graphic icons used as the bullet points.
One other type of list – the ordered or numbered list – is also available to you. This list presents numbered items rather than bulleted ones. It is used for text being presented in sequential order – like the steps in a process. Once again, these lists can be any length. When you press Enter, you create a new item in the sequence.
Like block quotes, lists also inform blind readers that these are organized lists so should only be used when the content justifies it – not just to indent content.