Tips and Tricks: Formatting a Page

One of the most common questions we get is also one of the hardest to answer: How do I make my wiki look good?

Of course there’s no one simple trick for attractive wikis. The best advice we can give you is to get in there and play with it — and to be inspired by all the wonderful wikis that your colleagues have already made. So, instead of giving you a how-to, we wanted to highlight some of the simplest tools you’ve got, and how you can use them to make your wiki shine.

1. Headings
Clear, clean pages are always appealing. And the simplest way to set up clear sections in your wiki page is to use preformatted headings. When you set a line as a heading (from Heading 1 through Heading 6) it will be made larger and bolder than the rest of the page. And, more than that, setting up headings lets you add a Table of Contents widget to the top of your page, so it’s even easier for visitors to read and navigate your page.

2. Fonts
A little more complicated than Headings — and a lot more fun! — are all your options for fonts. Spend some time with your Style Text tool. I promise you won’t regret it. Not only can you change the font itself (to Times New Roman, Comic Sans, and many more), you also can adjust the size, alignment, position, and color. You can modify a whole paragraph or line of text, or just one word, or even a single letter at a time.

These are all fantastic options, and tweaking them can make a huge difference to your page. But I have to admit to having a favorite, and that’s changing the color. If you know the hexadecimal value of your favorite color, you can just type it into the Text Color field. For the rest of us, there’s a handy-dandy color picker. The outside circle lets you pick color, then the inside square lets you adjust the value (that is, how much white, black, or gray is added to the color you’ve chosen). Just play around until the preview displays the color you want.

You can set the Background Color the same way you chose a font color. This won’t change the color of the whole page. Instead, it creates a solid stripe behind the text you’ve selected, like you’ve gone over it with a highlighter in any color you choose.

3. Horizontal Rules
Some people never use horizontal rules. I love them. Just one button (click!), and you’ve added a tidy separation between two sections of your page. You can put them above your section headings to serve as a section break. Or you can put it right below the heading as a graphic element. Or you can put one above and one below to make a stripe with your heading inside it.

4. Images
Of the simple editor tools, this is probably the one with the biggest impact. Even a single image can make a huge change to the way your page looks and feels. So of course it’s important to choose the right images, and to format and crop them correctly. But, assuming you already have images that you’re happy with, you should also get familiar with your options for adding them to a page. That means adjusting the size of the image, adding a caption, even turning it into a link.

You can also change the alignment of an image. By default, an image has no alignment, which means that it gets treated more or less like a really big letter, in line with the other letters around it. If you center align an image, it will be centered on its own line. And if you change its alignment to the left or right, the rest of your text will wrap around it, like a picture in a magazine or a textbook.

This is the heart of a wiki: simple tools that anyone can use. But they give you nearly infinite options for building beautiful, impressive wiki pages. If you’ve built pages you’re proud of, share them in the comments below, or send us an email at help@wikispaces.com so we can take a look!

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6 Comments

  1. Posted February 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow, my eyes hurt from reading all of that. (OW!) But that’s good info.

  2. Posted February 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi, it’s good to check it all out and inspiring me to get on with it, thanks

  3. Posted February 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Great customizing tips, thank you.

  4. Carol Dittoe
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    This is great information! Thanks for posting it. The only problem is that my editing does not “hold” when I hit save. All the formatting options I do return to default settings: headings, color, alignment, etc. I am also finding == throughout the page. It takes me forever to finish one page and is becoming extremely frustrating!! Any suggestions of what’s happening and why?

  5. Posted March 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Very exciting tips, keep up the good work. Thanks

  6. nellie
    Posted March 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the good design tips. I have one challenge – how to create an acceptable alternative to information that typically appears in table format. Any suggestions for how to accomplish this?

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