M02 - Text editor

Keywords: topic names, labels, pages.

What is it?

Moodle uses a text editor similar to what you use in Microsoft Word to enable people to add and edit text, including equations, and embed media, such as images, video and audio.

This text editor is available from anywhere where text can be added to a page. This includes:

  • Text and Media areas- areas where subtitles and descriptions can be added to the content area of a Moodle course homepage.
  • Pages - pages linked from the Moodle course homepage.
  • Books - multiple pages, with a menu.
  • Discussion forum messages - posting or replying to others in a Moodle course.

Why use it?

The text editor enables you to style your text. E.g. 

  • Bold important words you wish to draw attention to, which can help students scan information rapidly.

Text can be used to add a Topic name and a short description to a section.

Text and Media areas can be used:

  • To create a section or a subheading in a long list of activities.
  • To display an embedded audio, video or a code on the course page.
  • To add a short description to a section.

Pages are used to create a web page to display text, images, audio, video, web links and embedded code (such as Google maps).

Who can use it?

All Moodle users use the text editor wherever they are able to add rich text. E.g. Students and staff will see the text editor when drafting discussion forum messages, editing user profile descriptions and adding glossary definitions.

Additionally, Moodle course edits (tutors and course administrators) will be able to use the text editor when writing descriptions for activities they add to Moodle courses and when drafting content in Text and Media areasPages, and Books.

Meeting the Baseline

The  UCL Connected Learning Baseline suggests the following for  Accessibility : 

  • 7.1 Provide accessible learning resources by ensuring:
    • Layout is clear, with good spacing, including text that isn’t cramped or dense.
    • Graphics have alternative text (for screen-readers).
    • Navigation is consistent between modules.
    • Fonts are large enough to read (minimum 10pt).
    • Coloured text has high contrast against backgrounds.
    • Links are descriptive (avoiding 'click here'). 
    • Resources provided are in accessible formats and 48 hours in advance of lectures where relevant/appropriate.
  • 7.2 Links open in the same window – so the student uses the browser back button. *If a new window is essential (e.g. to provide pop-up help) warn the students by labelling the link with '(this link will open in a new window)'.
  • 7.3 Adhere to the UK Equality Act - If a student with a disability requests an accessible format of any resource, this must be provided, within reason. Read more at www.ucl.ac.uk/disability.

How do I set my preferred text editor?

The default Moodle text editor is called Atto. You can choose to use Atto or the TinyMCE text editor, however, it is recommended you use Atto, since it has a number of accessibility features not available in TinyMCE and is the editor being actively developed by Moodle HQ and the wider Moodle community.

To set your preferred text editor:

  1. Hover over your name in the top right corner of any Moodle page and select 'Preferences'.
  2. Within User Account, click 'Editor preferences'.
  3. Either keep the text editor set to Default editor to ensure you are always using the supported text editor (Atto), or otherwise choose:
    • TinyMCE HTML editor: has some more advanced table editing features and supports right-click.
    • Plain text area: removes all rich text functionality, so you can either write plain text or HTML (note: the <> HTML edit function in both text editors also allows you to edit HTML directly).
  4. Click 'Save changes'.

Further help

Further guidance on the text editor is available from Moodle Docs.

If you find any inaccurate or missing information you can even update this yourself (it's a communal wiki).

If you have a specific question about the tool please contact the Digital Education team.


The default text editor in Moodle is the Atto editor. The Atto editor doesn't allow you to set fonts, font colour or font size. If you want to use these features, please switch to using the TinyMCE editor. Details available in Moodle Docs.


  • underlining anything that isn't a link.
  • using CAPITALISED text.
  • using italicised text.
  • using text colours with low contrast to the background (colours must meet WCAG AA contrast ratios).
  • adding images without adequate captions, or descriptions (unless the image is purely decorative and it can be left blank).
  • adding videos that do not have subtitles:
    *YouTube provides accurate auto-captioning, so if your video is public, uploading the video to YouTube is a good option to improve the accessibility of your resources to students. This helps students who are hard of hearing or who may not be able to listen to the audio track, because they are in a public place and may not have headphones.

Examples and case studies

Advantages of entering text directly into pages, books and lessons, rather than files include:

  • the resource is easily accessible:
    • to users of mobile devices and students can use apps like Pocket to save an offline version.
    • to those using assistive technologies (like screen readers and browser plugins) that read text aloud and may alter its presentation on the screen for better readability.
  • the content is easier for course editors to update.

Questions & Answers

None at this time.

Further information

Find out how to perform particular functions within the text editor: