Why Should I Use Rich Text in Project Management Software?
Rich text is a document format type that enables you to customize fonts and other text content within your digital and web-based documents and files. It allows you to make changes to the appearance of your digital documents without having to be familiar with coding or HTML tags.
Rich text formatting (or RTF) also enables you to embed hyperlinks and visuals right into your text documents so that readers can navigate to your supplementary information and resources with one click.
By choosing project management software with rich text functionality, you can create project reports and documents that are easier to read and embed graphs, images, and even videos right into them.
The difference between plain text, rich text, and HTML
There are three main options for creating digital text documents:
- Plain text
- Rich text
Plain text documents only support basic, simple text including numbers, symbols, and line breaks. Plain text files can't save formatting options, such as fonts, colors, or text sizes. In fact, if you convert another type of document to plain text, it will automatically strip the document of all of these settings.
If you’ve ever used the Notepad program on your computer or opened a TXT file then you’ve seen a plain text document. Some plain text editors provide font and size settings, but these settings only change how the entire file looks on your screen.
You can’t format individual sections of text. For example, you can’t create larger headings, add bullet points, or bold key phrases.
This inability to support any formatting makes plain text documents very difficult to read. Which is why plain text documents are typically only used for creating files that software programs and applications need to read. With the lack of formatting, systems can more easily scan, upload, and interpret the data within a file.
Rich text documents allow you to add formatting to sections of the text. For instance, you can create headings and paragraphs, bold and italicize fonts, underline phrases, add bullet points, and highlight keywords.
You can also choose different fonts, text sizes, and colors, add hyperlinks, and embed images or objects. Rich text documents can include page formatting options, such as custom page margins, line spacing, and tab widths. With rich text, it’s easy to create columns, add tables, and format your documents in a way that makes them easier to read.
Most word processors, such as Microsoft Word, Lotus Word Pro, and AppleWorks, create rich text documents. Google Docs is another program that supports rich text formatting. Excluding web pages, the majority of digital text you read on a daily basis is formatted using rich text.
While web pages look like they’re using rich text, most of them have actually been created using HTML. To the end user, the formatting looks the same, but the creation process is different.
HTML documents support formatting options and customization through the use of coded tags. These format choices don’t take effect directly in your text editor but instead are interpreted by the web browser.
When viewed in a standard text editor, HTML appears as plain text interspersed with codes dictating formatting selections. For instance, a bolded paragraph would start with <b> and end with </b>.
While the end result appears the same, for HTML documents to appear correctly, the creator needs to understand and be able to use HTML coding. This means that if your project management software relies on HTML for document creation, your team will need coding training and support.
Benefits of rich text in project management software
Since Microsoft Word and Google Documents are so widely adopted, most people know how to use rich text formatting without any training, which increases usability and adoption.
Project management software with rich text formatting makes it easier for users to create and edit documents than with HTML options. And it results in documents that are easier to read than those created in plain text.
Imagine receiving a project status report that’s a TXT file. Chances are you wouldn’t even bother trying to read it. Similarly, an HTML project document could only be properly read if opened in an internet browser. Which means if you’re trying to read it offline or print it, it wouldn’t format correctly.
Without having rich text functionality within your project management software, you’d be forced to store, create, and edit reports, templates, and other documents outside of the system. This would make it more difficult to maintain one centralized knowledge center for your project.
But rich text within your project management software is important for more than just reports.
Robust project management software should offer multiple communication options within the system, such as email and chat. Rich text not only enables formatting options, such as the ability to @mention someone but also supports the use of emojis and GIFs.
These features help support clear communication among team members by allowing you to include nonverbal elements in your digital communication. This is particularly beneficial if you have international or remote teams, where you rarely see each other in person and there may be language barriers.
Even with colocated teams, research shows there are several significant benefits to incorporating emojis into your online team communications:
- People react to them like they would react to a real human face, making conversation more personal.
- They help soften the blow of a critique or negative feedback made within your project management software tool.
- They make you appear more friendly and competent.
- They help employees more accurately “read” the emotional content of a message.
- They help people remember what they’ve read.
- People enjoy using them.