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Gmail e-mail composition with rich-text

Compose Gmail message with rich-text

Gmail allows you to send e-mail in two formats – plain text and rich-text. The latter is available only on the new (standard) Gmail version. How do you know which version you are using? If you are already logged at your account, scroll down to the bottom of the web page (the footer) and you shall see it mentioned there – Gmail view:….

It’s easy to switch from the older (basic HTML) version to the new one. Simply click on the alternate version link on the right of the “Settings” link at the top of the page (also found in the footer) – refer Gmail version for details. To take advantage of this article you have to be working from the newer version of Gmail.

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Rich-text toolbar in Gmail

Start with a new e-mail message by hitting the “Compose Mail” link located under the logo. Just above the text box in which you type your message, you shall see what I call the rich-text toolbar – check image below. It has a whole lot of buttons through which you change the formatting of your e-mail text contents. I shall go over each in detail and also mention their function and use.

The rich-text formatting toolbar in the Gmail new message composition window

E-mail text formatting

The first few buttons of the rich-text toolbar let you apply basic formatting to the text in your e-mail message. Simply select the text (click, hold the mouse key and drag till the end) and hit the appropriate button to achieve the formatting you want. The same text can have different types of formatting – for example, you can bold, italicize, and highlight something you consider is really important and needs to be paid attention to by the recipient.

  • Bold: puts the selected text in bold – use it when you need to place importance on a word, phrase or a block of text.
  • Italics: slant the text and mostly use (again) for emphasis to certain elements in your text.
  • Underline: can be confusing as underlined text is usually regarded as a hyperlink (web link, URL) – use it sparingly (at least I do so) but I guess its fine for headings.
  • Select font face: You don’t need to write your e-mails using the same old boring font. Change it to something exotic. The drop down offers a choice between sans-serif (the default), serif, wide, narrow, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, Garamond, Georgia, Tahoma, Trebuchet MS and Verdana. The names of these fonts in the drop down are displayed in the same font face so you can see what each one looks like.
  • Font size: there are four font sizes available – Small, Normal, Large and Huge. Unless you know what you are doing, please restrain yourself in making all the text in your e-mail message either small or very large! The different font sizes are supplied for a purpose- so you can structure the e-mail contents like create a heading or a sub-heading.
  • Text color: select the text and then click on the color you want from the drop down palette. It’s always a good idea to add a little color to the otherwise drab text but don’t go overboard and put each line in a different color.
  • Text highlighting: Works just like your conventional highlighter – choose from 70 colors in the palette.

the various text formatting options in Gmail

Gmail e-mail emoticons

Gmail also lets you include emoticons (smilies) in your e-mail message. Hit the Emoticon button in the toolbar and then select the one you want. There are two sets of these emoticons, crudely differentiated as square and round icons.

Gmail emoticons come in two sets - round and square

Add a URL or web link in your e-mail

Including a URL or a web link (hyperlink) in your e-mail message is simple. Click on the chain link icon and in the pop-up, enter the text you want to be a link and the URL (web address). Gmail also lets you test the URL to ensure you send the correct information… cool! You can also embed e-mail addresses as links.

Including a list of items in your Gmail e-mail and aligning the text

There are two buttons for formatting the text as lists – both ordered and unordered lists. Then are buttons for indentation, aligning (right, left and center). You can also insert a quote which is indented text with a line to the left.

Remove formatting

The applied formatting to text can be reversed by first selecting it and then hitting the “Remove Formatting” button. In fact, you can clear the email of all formatting by clicking on the “Plain Text” link. However (IMPORTANT), if you do that you can’t get the changes back and all formatting will be lost forever.

I hope this article proved useful to you. And show some love by sprinkling your email with some color and style.

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