How to Format Text on Craigslist
By Elizabeth Mott
When you post a help-wanted or for-sale ad on Craigslist, you can use basic HTML formatting to emphasize elements of your text. Craigslist recommends that you use these capabilities sparingly because its users prefer the "less-is-more" approach to fast-loading ad pages. Implemented selectively, HTML formatting can help your ad reach the audience your business needs to address. Choose your formatting from codes that apply to the body section of an HTML page.
Use basic text formatting tags to make your text bold, italic or underlined. Craigslist also supports the <big\> and <small\> tags to enlarge or reduce type size. When you combine multiple tags, verify that you nest them properly, with opening and closing tags in reverse orders. For example, to make a word bold and underlined, code like the example below.
Replace "(your text)" with the text you want bold and underlined.
Use color coding to make parts of your ad text appear in basic colors other than black. The font color tag supports blue, fuchsia, green, maroon, navy, olive, purple, red and teal. To use its syntax, type:
<font color="[colorname]">(your text)</font>
where [colorname] represents the name of one of the listed colors and "(your text)" is the text you want colored. Combine color and size codes to control the relative size of your text, coding it this way:
<font size="4" color="[colorname]">text</font>
Use size codes from 2 through 6, where lower numbers equal smaller sizes.
Code line breaks with <p\> and tags. To set off a paragraph with extra white space above and below it, surround the text with opening and closing <p\></p> tags. Add a line break with a single tag, which doesn't require a closing tag.
Draw a horizontal divider with the <hr\> tag, which also adds a line break to accommodate the rule. This tag can be helpful to set off one section of information from the rest of your ad. When you code the tag <hr size=[number]/>
"[number]" represents a digit, with larger numbers creating a thicker rule.
Use header tags to style words or phrases as lead-in lines in various sizes, depending on the viewer's operating system, browser and version, and preferences. The <h1\> tag creates the largest header size, scaling down to the <h6\> tag. Like bold and italic formatting, these tags must be opened and closed around the text you want to style.
Create ordered, unordered and dictionary lists to add automatic outlining, bullet points or subheading with indented definitions. If you're familiar with Microsoft Word's bullets and numbering, you'll recognize these features. Ordered lists open and close with <ol\> tags, unordered lists with <ul> and dictionary lists with <dl\> tags. Flank unordered and ordered list items with the <li\> opening and closing tags. Mark dictionary-list items with <dt\> opening and closing tags, and the definitions themselves with <dd\> tags.
Link to external websites and images with <a href> and <img src> tags. Format page links similar to the following:
<a href="http://[website]">web link</a>
Replace "[website]" with the full URL of a home or interior Web page. To display an image, type:
Replace "[imageaddress]" with the URL of a hosted photo or graphic.
Use the <pre\> tag to maintain the formatting of a stretch of text that includes multiple spaces between specific words, line breaks that must appear as is and other typesetting. This tag requires that you open and close it surrounding the text it affects.
Use tables to set up columns of information that display multi-part lists. These tables can include bold headers and regular-weight text items. Tables start and end with tags that surround their text; inside the table, you'll need to open and close each row, and each item within it. Rows use <tr\> codes, headers <th\> and regular row items <td> codes.
Ads that use any HTML coding must implement it throughout their text.
Craigslist supports <blockquote> tags to indent a stretch of text.
Check your HTML carefully to assure that all styling that requires both opening and closing tags includes the necessary codes.
As you set up your ad content, avoid including scripting, Flash or applets, as Craigslist doesn't support them.
Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.