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Mozilla and Netscape mail and news clients can display structured text, sometimes called plaintext tags. This enables text emphasis without resorting to using HTML, such as when composing and sending messages in newsgroups (which generally frown on HTML messages).

For example, in a newsgroup post, you might use structured text to make a word bold or italic for special emphasis. Below is a list of the structured text Mozilla and NS understand and how they will display it. Try it yourself by copying the following text, paste it into a plain-text email, and send it to yourself.

COPY AND PASTE THIS LINE - This is *bold* text. This is /italic/. This is _underlined_ text.

If the email does not show the text attributes it's possible that the feature is turned off in your version of the program (usually only in older versions).  To turn it on enter "about:config" (no quotes) in the browser's address bar and press Enter. In the Search box enter "mail.display_struct" (no quotes). If the value column says False double-click to set it to True.

Also, if you are composing in HTML rather than plain text, the message will not display these attributes when read.

The same seems to be true with text emoticons (smiley faces). Emoticons display is controlled by a preference found in: Edit - Preferences - Mail & Newsgroups - Message Display. For a list of emoticons that will display in mozilla/NS see this page.

You cannot combine tags to make, for instance, text that is both bold and italic (as in */text/*). Only the inner tag will be applied.

How it looks as you enter the text in your email message How it should look in a message when read by the recipient if their client interprets plain text formatting
*bold text* *bold text*
/italic text/ /italic text/
_underlined text_ _underlined text_
|code format text|
|code format text|

Another interesting note. You can make formatting characters not show up in your mail/news client. Create a plain text file named userContent.css in your Profile's "chrome" sub-folder. Put the following in the text file:

/* Remove the *,/,_ characters for bold, italic, and underline from structured text */
.moz-txt-star > .moz-txt-tag { display: none; }
.moz-txt-slash > .moz-txt-tag { display: none; }
.moz-txt-underscore > .moz-txt-tag { display: none; }

This page last changed: Sunday, July 26, 2015 - 12:49 PM USA Eastern Time

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