Shorthand Basics

If you can enter text, you're ready for Foswiki. With a few simple rules, you'll be able to use plain text to create well-styled postings, instantly. What you are going to learn here is called Topic Markup Language, or simply TML. So here comes a fast-track guide to shorthand basics:

General text formatting

  • Separate each paragraph with a blank line.

  • To display a bold type word or phrase, use asterisks: *bold type*.

  • To display an italic word or phrase, use underscores: _italic_.

  • To display bold with italics word or phrase, use double underscores: __bold italic__.

  • To display a word or phrase in MONOSPACED TYPE, use equal signs: =like this=.

  • Use ==double equal signs== for bold: bold mono.

  • To display colored text, enter:__ %RED% red text %ENDCOLOR% and %GREEN% green text %ENDCOLOR% to get red text and green text .
    • %<color>% text must end with %ENDCOLOR%. If you want to switch from one color to another one you first need to end the active color with %ENDCOLOR%, e.g. write %RED% some text %ENDCOLOR% %GREEN% more text %ENDCOLOR%.
    • DefaultPreferences defines some commonly used colors: %YELLOW%, %RED%, %PINK%, %PURPLE%, %TEAL%, %NAVY%, %BLUE%, %AQUA%, %LIME%, %GREEN%, %OLIVE%, %MAROON%, %BLACK%, %GRAY%, %SILVER% and %ENDCOLOR%.

  • To display headings, type (from the beginning of a line) three dashes (-), from one to six plus signs (+), a space, and your heading text.
    • The quantity of plus signs is related to the size of the heading - the more plus signs you use, the smaller the heading.
    • You can insert a nested table of contents, generated from headings, by placing %TOC% wherever you like on a page (see System.Macros for more %TOC% options).

  • Use <verbatim> to enclose code excerpts, filenames, and other unformatted text:
     unformatted text!
     and more of it!

Working with special characters (advanced)

  • If you want to display angle brackets, enter them as HTML codes instead of typing them in directly:
    • &lt; = <
      &gt; = >
    • You enter: (a &gt; 0)
      Result: (a > 0)

  • Sometimes you will not see the & character and you need to escape it to see it as it is. The reason behind is that & has a special meaning in HTML - it starts so called character entities, like '&copy;' which is the © copyright character.
    • Type 'This &amp; that' to get 'This & that'.

Preventing Macro/variable expansion (advanced)

Place <nop> within a %MACRO% statement to prevent it from being expanded, as follows:
  • %<nop>MACRO%, result: %MACRO%

Working with <verbatim> (advanced)

Although text inside a <verbatim> block should be displayed exactly as it is typed (without being expanded), Foswiki does not necessarily ignore it. The following examples show TML that Foswiki will process inside a <verbatim> block:
Example 1:
   * Set VARIABLE = This variable may be used as normal, Eg. %VARIABLE%

Example 2:
This section may be used as normal, Eg. %INCLUDE{"WikiSyntax" section="section"}%

Example 3:
This template definition may be used as normal, Eg. %TMPL:P{"template"}%

Internal and external links

  • To link to another Wiki topic in the same web, type the WikiWord of that topic: WebHome. Acronyms will also be linked if the topic exists. See ACRONYM.

  • To link to a Wiki topic in a different web, type the name of the web, and a dot, first: Sandbox.WebHome.

  • A Wiki topic that doesn't exist will appear highlighted, with question mark at the end, prompting you (or someone else) to start that topic by clicking the ?: ExampleOfANewTopic (click the ?, but don't save, to preserve the example!).

  • To create an external link, type the full URL:

  • To prevent a WikiWord from becoming a link, place <nop> or an exclamation mark (!) in front of the WikiWord: <nop>NoLinkPlease or !NoLinkPlease.

  • To escape the exclamation mark escape, try prefixing a <nop>, e.g. write A <nop>!= B to get "A != B". Alternatively, use the HTML entity &#33;, which renders as an exclamation mark, e.g. write A &#33;= B to get "A != B".

Bullet and numbered lists

  • To indent with a bullet, enter [space][space][space][asterisk][space].
    • Use multiples of 3 spaces to nest bullets.
      • That's 3-6-9 spaces...

  • To create a numbered list:
    1. Start items in a numbered list with [space][space][space][1][space].
    2. The "1" (or any number) will be replaced by a correct numbering order.
    3. To add a new paragraph without restarting list numbering, use the %BR% variable, like this:
      Text added (in a new paragraph)
    4. and the numbered list continues.

Always start counting spaces for bullets or numbers from the beginning of a new line.


  • To display an image in a topic, attach it and type in edit mode:

  • Three (or more) consecutive hyphens will create a horizontal rule:

Follow GoodStyle recommendations when editing topics. In general, it is always nice to add one's signature at the end of a topic or comments. To add your signature, type Main.YourName, it will then expand to WikiGuest.

See EditingShorthand for the complete set of formatting rules.

Related Topics: WikiWords, Macros, EditingShorthand, FileAttachment
Topic revision: r1 - 19 Sep 2010, ProjectContributor
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