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Plain Text vs. Rich Text fields in HubSpot: Content editing pros, cons and best practices

May 8, 2019   |   1 min read time    Josh Markus Josh Markus

Ah, yes, the age-old dilemma of plain text field vs. rich text field. A question almost as important as "paper or plastic" but without the environmental implications. If you've ever built out templates or created custom modules in HubSpot you've undoubtedly come across this issue. Ultimately, this decision relies heavily on the end user's desired involvement. If they're more "hands off", the best solution might be a plain text field. If the end user wants more control and flexibility, a rich text field is the obvious choice. This is where it pays off to do a little planning before development. Consider the end user's preference when choosing text fields.

Of course, there are obvious downsides to using rich text fields. Inline styling is not considered "best practice" and generally avoided outside development. Also, if the end user isn't familiar with a rich text editor they may need training and the chances of them disrupting the design layout greatly increase.

If you decide the end user is more "hands off" and want to mitigate possible design hiccups as they create content, the best option is the plain text field. This approach gives the end user extremely limited options and allows development to stay within "best practices" (it's easier to write media queries when you don't have to deal with inline styles).

If we want to play devil's advocate and take a hard-line on the separation of concerns, we would undoubtedly go with the plain text field. This forces content creators to go through the proper channels to see their design properly translated into HTML and CSS by developers. Of course, this approach could certainly stifle efficiency and turnaround and has the potential to undermine otherwise capable content creators.

Unlike the timber industry, there's no "clear-cut" answer here (cue symbol crash for bad joke) but I'd argue that most of the time it's fine to go with the rich text editor. Rich text editors just aren't that difficult to use and they allow the end user to be more involved in their website - ideally decreasing your overall development involvement as well. So, next time you're faced with this issue, please, think about the environment...and then think about your end user because thinking about the environment unfortunately won't help.

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