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How to pretty up your posts and questions with bold, italicised and underlined text

Lora from HealthUnlocked has just let me into a little secret. This site supports a very small subset of bbcode formatting, which enables you to format text by setting it to bold, italicised or underlined.

Basically, you just surround the text you want to format with [n] and [/n] pairs (where n is b, i or u as required) thusly:


[ b ] word(s) you want in bold text [ /b ]


[ i ] word(s) you want in italicised text [ /i ]


[ u ] word(s) you want underlined [ /u ]

(I've left spaces between the square brackets and the formatting character so you can see how it is done.)

You can even get really carried away and have underlined and italicised bold text!

Have fun!


14 Replies

Formatting Text

Thanks Neil for reminding me on this one (I should have just googled for your post).

You can paste in bullets and numbered lists from WORD e.g.

• 1st bullet

• 2nd bullet

• 3rd bullet

1. 1st numbered list item

2. 2nd numbered list item

3. 3rd numbered list item

. . . although the HU format doesn't then recognize as special text so you have to extend manually, but I don't see that as a problem.

Could HU put your post into the help section perhaps ?

Anyone reading, please press the "Recommend" on Neil's post above



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I've offered this and quite a few other posts on how to use this website to HU for reworking and addition to their limited Help page. I think they may take up my offer; they've already passed them on to other Admins.

Thanks for the reminder to other readers to Recommend this post. With no responses, I was wondering if I'd wasted my time, but I've noticed some posters are now using these tips :)


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Neil, I think some people may not be "prettying up" their posts with the formatting you suggest, because the technique looks so very compIicated. I'm going to test it out. Here goes.

It can be good to write some text in bold, to make it look different by being in italics, and to underline some words for greater effect. Now let's see it that works in practice.


Wow!! It did work!!!


But on the "Latest activity" page, the formatting doesn't show up... Not so good.


Congratulations Paula!

You've now conquered smilies and formatting!

Anyone that has ever had any experience with a mark-up language such as HTML (used for web pages) would actually find this site's very limited capabilities rather frustrating, as it becomes second nature to write with this extended formatting after a while. Just consider it an extension to using capitals, punctuation, paragraphing, etc. I think it's worth the additional effort to help make the text easier to take in.

Yes, whoever coded the 'Latest Activity and 'News feed' pages didn't bother about interpreting the mark-up codes on those pages; they obviously recognised that there was a speed/presentation trade-off and went for speed.

Some older word processing programs and type setting programs can be used both in a graphical mode like Microsoft Word or in a text/mark-up mode like this. Experts often prefer the text mode as it gives them greater control. Word just does the mark-up transparently and stores the result in a binary file, which also means that when it gets corrupted, you can't fix it manually...


Thanks Neil, :-) I must keep on using it though, otherwise I'll forget. Any chance that in future, HU might make it work on the "Latest Activity and News Feed" pages ? Would it slow things down that much? It does look odd to see the HTML tags (if that's the right wording) in those pages, rather than the bold/underlining etc. Makes the text harder, not easier for people to take in.


Or they could strip out and [x] or [/x] sequences in these pages. I'd consider this low priority though.

Or we could ask people to avoid using these formatting sequences in the first few sentences :)

I too, don't like seeing the formatting characters, but seriously, to eliminate or use them would create additional overhead on an already computationally heavy task. Each character from the introductory text for each site addition has to be checked and as soon as a '[' is found, the code needs to check for a /,b,i or u and a trailing ]. then the appropriate HTML code has to be injected. Plus it also has to handle what happens when the formatting happens around the end of the text snippet.

This would be an interesting project for a vacation student eager to try out their coding skills :)


Just thought I would try

sparkler x


Well done Sparkler!. It was nice to see someone else trying it :-) I expect you were much quicker than me though. It took me some time to understand the system, then more time to concentrate on typing the extra symbols correctly. I suppose if I did it a lot, I'd get quicker, but it does seem a very [ui]tedious[/ui] method, compared to "Word".


P.S. I have now realised you can't put 2 letters in the same square brackets, or it doesn't work. Needs separate brackets for each letter.


Anybody know which BB codes are supported by HU?



Sadly it appears to be just the few I've noted. The official Help file mentions these only:


I did try to experiment with a few other likely codes with no luck. :(

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I did web development when I worked in IT and built several websites using HTML and VBscript. Those days are long gone now and memory fades!!!

As Neil said, these are HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) tags, used in web pages. There are hundreds of them. If you right click on any web page and click on 'view page source' you will be able to see the page description. HTML is a page description language (not a programming language as many think).

Having not built any websites for about 12 years, I have forgotten a lot and gave away books on HTML and VB script to a neighbour who worked for Google, when I moved from London.

Funny how often once you've given something away you later come to regret it!!


Anyone interested here are all the HTML5 tags...


books what are those?


My life is my iPad...sad but true...


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