Using the formatting toolbar

NOTE: The formatting toolbar has different options in Mixed subjects and HTML subjects. All settings labelled 'HTML subjects only' are unavailable in Mixed subjects.

The formatting toolbar lets you control the appearance of selected text when creating items or source material. The formatting toolbar also allows you to change the content type on certain entry fields from text to equation, image, or table.

This article explains how to use the formatting toolbar in Mixed and HTML subject items and source material.

In this article

Finding the formatting toolbar

The formatting toolbar is available in the following locations:

To reveal the formatting toolbar, select the text field.

Standard formatting toolbar options

To create and edit text, select Text Editor .

The following options are visible by default. Highlight a selection of text before choosing an option to apply changes only to that content.

Icon Setting Description HTML subjects only
Bold (Control+B) Makes text darker.  
Italics (Control+I) Makes text slant to the right.  
Underline (Control+U) Adds a horizontal line below the text.  
Align Left Aligns text along the left margin.  
Centre Aligns text in the middle of the content area.  
Align Right Aligns text along the right margin.  
Strikethrough Adds a horizontal line through the middle of the text.
Insert Horizontal Line Adds a horizontal line between paragraph blocks.
Bulleted List Starts a bulletpoint list at the cursor’s position.  
Font Name Choose your typeface. See ‘Available fonts’ below for more information.  
Font Size Choose the size of your text.  
Insert Special Character Opens the Select Special Character dialog. Select a special character to add it to the text. For more information, read About special characters.  
Text Colour Changes the colour of your text.  
Table Editor Adds a table. See Creating tables in items for more information.
Resize Makes all content in stem visible without a scrollbar.  

Available fonts

The following table displays which fonts are available in Surpass on different operating systems:

Font Type Windows MacOS iOS iPadOS

Arial/Arial, Helvetica  (Sans-serif)



Comic Sans MS/Comic Sans MS, Comic Sans, Chalkboard, Chalkboard SE (Sans-serif)

Comic Sans MS

Comic Sans


Chalkboard SE

Courier New/Courier New, Courier (Monospace)

Courier New

Impact/Impact, Charcoal (Sans-serif)



Georgia/Georgia (Serif)


Lucida Console/Lucida Console, Monaco (Monospace)

Lucida Console


Lucida Sans Unicode/Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Grande (Sans-serif)

‘Lucida Sans Unicode

‘Lucida Grande

Tahoma/Tahoma, Geneva (Sans-serif)



Palatino Linotype/Palatino Linotype, Palatino (Serif)

Palatino Linotype


Times New Roman/Times New Roman, Times (Serif)

Times New Roman


Trebuchet MS/Trebuchet MS, Helvetica (Sans-serif)

Trebuchet MS


Verdana/Verdana, Geneva (Sans-serif)



MS Gothic/MS Gothic (Sans-serif)

MS Gothic

  • Arial (default)
  • Comic Sans
  • Courier New
  • Georgia
  • Impact
  • Lucida Console
  • Lucida Sans Unicode
  • Tahoma
  • Palatino Linotype
  • Times New Roman
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Verdana
  • MS Gothic

Advanced formatting toolbar options

Select Advanced on the formatting toolbar to reveal additional options.

Icon Setting Description HTML subjects only

Sets the character(s) below the line of type.


Sets the character(s) above the line of type.

Text direction from left to right

Text travels from the left side of the content area to the right.

Text direction from right to left

Text travels from the right side of the content area to the left.


Allows you to edit the current content area’s HTML source code.

WARNING: Do not edit the source code of Mixed subject items.
Insert Comment

Adds an inline comment. Read Leaving comments on items for more information.

Insert image

Inserts an image inline with text content.


Applies a pre-formatted style to the selected text.

Remove Format

Strips selected text of all formatting. See ‘Available styles (HTML subjects only)’ below for more information.

Em Space

Adds a space the width of a capital letter M.

En Space

Adds a space the width of a capital letter N.


Opens the WIRIS EDITOR math dialogue in HTML subjects for the entry of inline equation content. See ‘Creating equations’ below for more information.

Available styles (HTML subjects only)

Use Styles to apply formatting presets to your text.

Style Description
Border Places a blue frame around the selected text.
Emphasis Increases the selected text’s size to the maximum value (24 px).
Symbol Padding Inserts a transparent 10 px border either side of the selected text.
Capitals Renders lowercase characters as small capitals.
No Wrapping Removes line breaks, rendering the selected string on one line.
Strong Emphasis Changes the selected text’s size to the maximum value (24 px), its colour to red, and the font to Times New Roman.

Creating equations

NOTE: Text written equation fields is automatically formatted in italics. Deselect 1b to disable italics.

To create and edit equations, select Equation Editor (Mixed subjects) or WIRIS EDITOR math (HTML subjects).

Selecting Equation Editor in a Mixed subject changes the stem block’s content type. To add more text, images, or tables, you must add another stem.

Selecting WIRIS EDITOR math in an HTML subject opens a dialog where you can input equation content to be inserted inline with text. Select OK to add the equation content and close the dialog.

For more information on the equation plugin, refer to the MathType Web documentation.

NOTE: Candidates cannot highlight equations in question stems or answer options.

Adding images

NOTE: You can add images to question stem blocks 2-5 and Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, and Either/Or answer options. You cannot add images to an item's first question stem.
TIP: If you want to add media at the item level rather than stem level, read Adding images to an item.

To add an image, select Image Editor . This changes the stem block’s content type. To add more text, equations, or tables, you must add another stem.

Press Select Image to open the Media Library. Find or upload an image and select Add media to item. For information on uploading images to Surpass, read Importing images.

When an image has been added, select one of the following alignment options:

Aligns image along the left margin.
Aligns image to the middle of the content area.
Aligns image along the right margin.

If you want to change your image, select it to return to the Media Library.

To delete an image, select Remove image from this text area .

Creating tables

To create and edit tables, select Table Editor .

In Mixed subjects, you can add tables to question stem blocks 2-5.

In HTML subjects, you can create tables inline with question stem content in all question stems. You can also create tabular answer options for Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, Multiple Choice survey, and Multiple Response survey items.

For full instructions on how to add tables to Mixed and HTML subject items, read Creating tables in items.

Further reading

Now you know the basic functionality of the formatting toolbar, read the following articles to learn more: