Rich Text

Rich text is text that supports various types of formatting. Unlike plain text, which consists only of unformatted text, rich text allows the user to apply basic styles like bold, italics, and underlining; they may also change the font, font size, and text color.

Rich text also supports paragraph formatting that lets you change text alignment and line spacing. Automatic list formatting allows both numbered and bulleted lists, with options for numbering and bullet styles. You can add a simple table to a rich text file to show off data. You can also change page layout options to customize the paper size, margins, and page orientation. Some rich text editors even allow you to embed images.

Some of the font formatting possible using rich text
Some of the font formatting possible using rich text

Word processors like Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and OpenOffice Writer create rich text documents. However, each program has its own proprietary default document format; you must convert a document before opening it in another word processor. The generic Rich Text Format, which uses the .RTF file extension, is the most widely supported among word processors and can be used as an alternative to share a rich text file with any word processor.

Updated March 10, 2023 by Brian P.

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