Using Blackboard

The Blackboard Visual Text Box Editor

Blackboard has a feature called the "Visual Text Box Editor" or the "WYSIWYG Text Editor".  WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get.  You can format your text with fonts, colors, bullets, indents, etc.  What you see on the screen is what you get when you print the text on your printer.

This text editor looks and functions very much like word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Word Perfect.  However, the Blackboard Visual Text Box Editor does not function exactly like a word processor.  Read the information below and practice a few times until you are comfortable with the way it works.

Choose an item from the list below to jump to a particular topic:

 Internet Explorer 6 Only

The Blackboard Visual Text Box Editor only functions in Internet Explorer 6.  If you are using any other browser, such as Netscape, or if you are using Internet Explorer 7, you will need to disable the text editor in your personal Blackboard settings.  Click here for full directions on how to disable the Visual Text Box Editor.

The Text Editor Tool Bars

The Text Editor window has two tool bars.  The default setting for the Text Editor tool bars is for the lower tool bar to be minimized or hidden.  If you cannot see the lower tool bar, you are missing a lot of the options available to you.

If you do not see both bars click on the small down arrow in the lower left corner of the tool bar.

Text Editor Tool Bar

The hidden tool bar will become visible and you will see the rest of the formatting options available to you.

Full Toolbar

Changing Fonts and Font Sizes

 Font Style

The first three items on the top tool bar allow you to make choices in font and font size you use.

 Full Font Menu

These three areas are all drop-down menus with several options.  To use them you highlight the text you would like to format and then choose your option from the menu.
The first drop-down menu is set to "Normal".  This menu has preset styles to help you in making your text look uniform.  If every title uses the Heading 1 format and all of the descriptions use the Normal format, your text will "flow" and be easier to read.

The second drop-down menu is font size.  You will need to "play" with the options on this menu to see which font sizes you prefer.

The third drop-down menu gives you font choices.  There are not as many fonts as in a true word processor but you should find something for every need.

If you are having trouble changing the formatting you might need to make two changes.  For example:  You have an area text that is part Arial and part Times New Roman. You would like it to be all Arial.  If highlighting the text and choosing Arial does not change the font, then highlight the text and choose Verdana.  Now, choose Arial again.  It should work the second time.

Changing the Font Style

 Font Style

You have the same font style options in Blackboard that you do in a word processor.  You can highlight a block of text and make it Bold, Italic or Underlined. Or even all three at once.

Change the Font Justification (Aligning Text)

 Font Justification

The left button in this group is left justify.  This is what is used most often.  The text lines up on the left side of the screen and moves across to the right.

The middle button allows you to center your text - usually a title
between the two margins.

The right button in this group is right justify.  It is exactly the opposite of left justify.  The text lines up along the right side of the screen and moves across to the left side of the screen.

Other Font Formatting Options

 Other Font Formating Options

The last group of buttons on the top tool bar allow you to create numbered or bulleted lists or change the indent on a paragraph.

To create a list:

    1. Type each item on a separate line.
    2. Highlight the entire list
    3. Then click on either number or bullet.

When you change the indent on a paragraph you can move the entire paragraph in or out.  Just click in the paragraph and choose the button which shows the text with the arrow pointing in the direction you like.

Finding Text in Your Essay

Finding Text 

The Blackboard Visual Text Box Editor window is very small and you might be typing a long essay. You can easily find an area of text in your essay by clicking on Find - the first button in the second row.


 Spellchecking in Blackboard

You can spell check inside of a Blackboard text box.  The spell check button is the second from the left on the bottom tool bar. (This is the best button!)

 Correcting spelling in Blackboard

When you click on the spell check button a window will open.  (Make sure that you are not blocking pop-ups.)  The misspelled word will be highlighted in blue.  Choose the correct spelling from the list of suggestions and click on Replace. If the highlighted word is spelled correctly but is not recognized by Blackboard (such as a medical term) you can click on Learn and add the word to your personal dictionary.

Cutting, Copying and Pasting Text 

 Cut Copy or Paste

The next group of buttons on the bottom toolbar are Cut (the scissors), Copy (the two pieces of paper) and Paste (the clipboard).

When you are inside of the text editor you cannot click on Edit, Copy or Edit, Paste on the Internet Explorer menu Bar. You will need to click on these buttons.

Or, you can use the Windows shortcut keys:  Ctrl+X is cut, Ctrl+C is copy, and Ctrl+V is paste.

Undo and Redo

 Undo and Redo

Undo and Redo could be the most important buttons next to the spell check button.  Clicking on the arrow which curves to the left will undo - take back - the change you just made.  Clicking on the arrow which curves to the right redo - do again - the thing you just undid.

Other Options

 Other Formatting Options

These three buttons allow you to add special features to the text you are typing.  These special features will require practice to understand exactly how they work.

The globe with a piece of chain is Hyperlink.  This allows you to create a clickable link to a web page or an e-mail address right in your text.

The next button is Table.  You can create a table with rows and columns.  This is very useful if you have text that must line up.  As I cannot at this time figure out how to set tabs in your essay, this might be the best alternative.

The third button is Line.  This one is pretty straight forward.  Click where you would like to have a line and then click the Line button.  A line will be drawn from left to right across the text editor window.

Adding Color

 Color Icon

These two buttons allow you to change the color of your text or the color of the screen behind the text.

 Color Picker

Highlight the text you wish to change and click on one of the color options.  The ColorPicker window will open. 

If the ColorPicker does not open make sure that you are not blocking pop-ups.

Click on the color of your choice and the text you highlighted will change.

Special Formatting Options

 Special Formatting Options

This group of buttons gives you special formatting options which you might never use.  The first two buttons open Equation Editors for Math and Science classes.  The third button allows you to create you text in HTML.  The last button is Preview.  It lets you see what your text will look like before you click on Submit.  If you are taking an essay exam, you will not have the option of going back and making changes if you do not like the formatting you used.


Getting Help with the Visual Text Box Editor

Help Icon 

The last button on the bottom tool bar is "Help".  Clicking on this button will take you to the Text Editor section in the Blackboard Student Manual.   If you need help with anything Blackboard, please feel free to e-mail the CAC Blackboard System Administrator.

Ending a Paragraph or Putting in Blank Lines

When you hit the Enter key while typing in the Visual Text Box Editor, the text will automatically double-space.  If you wish to only put in a single blank line and not two blank lines you will need to press Shift+Enter.  This also works with the CAC Student e-mail.

Putting in Tabs

You will need to check back later for information on putting tabs in your text inside the Visual Text Box Editor.  So far, I have not discovered how to do it.  Using the Tab key does not do what you would expect it to do.  For now you will just have to break all of the word processing rules and use spaces. Or, you can use a Table.

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