Skip to main content

Moodle: Text editors

Using text editors in Moodle

Moodle has two text editors:  TinyMCE and Atto.

  1. The default editor is Tiny MCE. It works well for general purposes, but is limited if you need to type formulae or equations.
  2. TinyMCE editor requires a browser with Java enabled. You can verify if you have Java enabled/available [link opens in a new window].
  3. The alternative editor is Atto. It is better for equations and formulae. It also allows quick recording of audio and video.

Selecting a different editor

To select a different editor: 

  1. Click to open the User menu at the top right hand corner in Moodle where your name and profile image appear.
  2. Select Preferences
  3. Select Editor preferences
  4. Select the relevant editor from the drop-down menu
  5. Click Save changes

Use the Navigation block to return to the Dashboard or the My units option to go to a particular unit. 

TinyMCE editor

The default TinyMCE editor is useful for most general activities. It allows you to format text using bold and underline functions, as well as bullet lists, embed images and videos and add links. 

Tiny MCE editor basic view

You can expand the menu by clicking on the first icon. The expanded menu includes other formatting options such as strikethrough and underline, subscript and superscript, alignment,text colour and highlight, as well as selecting different fonts and symbols.

Tiny MCE editor expanded view

Note: The TinyMCE editor is useful for formatting general text. However its equation editor requires the installation of Java and has known issues with some browsers. For any equations requiring symbols, you should consider the Atto editor. You should also note that TinyMCE text may not be compliant with accessibility standards.

Atto editor

The basic Atto editor looks similar to TinyMCE editor. You can still bold and italicise text, use bullet points and hyperlinks, and embed pictures, media and other attachments. Note that the Atto editor provides the option of directly recording audio and video.


You can click the first icon to expand the menu. The expanded menu also includes underline and strikethrough, subscript, superscript and text alignment, as well as symbols and tables. It also has an inbuilt formula function that allows you to create complex equations and formulae using either symbol menus or TeX code. 


To format your equation, click on the Equation editor icon. You will see a new screen pop-up (ensure pop-ups are enabled). 

The equation editor menu has four sections (click on menu names below to toggle images of each menu):

You can select symbols directly from the relevant menu, or if you are familiar with TeX or LaTeX, you can type the relevant code directly into the box. The preview box at the bottom gives you an idea of what your equation or formula will look like. The downward arrow indicates the position of the cursor.

Click here to see a labelled view of the equation editor (click again to close)

Note that if typing the code in yourself, you need to type quite slowly, as the preview refreshes as you type. You also need to include line breaks (\) etc, or enter and save each line of your equation separately. 

When you click 'Save Equation' you will see the raw TeX code in the editor window.

Once you save or post your text, you should see the compiled equation appear as it did in the preview window.