Have you visited forums recently, and wondered how some of the members have pictures, links and other things like colored text? Chances are high that the forum you were viewing was done in phpBB – a coding system which is basically a twisting of HTML. The only real differences between the two is that phpBB allows you greater control of your posts through the clickable interface above the post’s text box, and phpBB uses square brackets [ ] instead of  arrows < > like HTML does. The rest is debatable by proponents of both systems.

 To begin with, not all phpbb forums are the same regardless of their appearance. The forum’s administrators can enable or disable functions, such as allowing pictures and links to be viewed, at any time with a few simple clicks. Also, many functions are available through the clickable interface above the text box (examples include bold, italics, underline, and text size). The beauty of phpBB is that it allows you to use either the clickable interface or insert code.

 The most common features people want to use, if the forum’s administrators haven’t disallowed them, are adding links (or links within text), and adding pictures to their posts. If allowed, there are different ways to add them.

 Adding Links

 In the default settings for a phpBB forum, links are now automatically rendered by adding the http address (example: http://www.yoursitename.com). If that function has been turned off, you will have to use the [url] [/url] tags – the former before the http addredd, and the latter after it (example: [url]http://www.yoursitename.com[/url]). This tag tells the forum to render the address as a link.

 Sometimes though, you want a word or name to be a clickable link. This is accomplished by using the tag [url=address]text[/url]. (Example: [url=http://www.yoursitename.com]text[/url]) The result would be that the “text” in between the brackets will be clickable, sending the clicker to the site indicated. Only the “text” would be viewable by forum readers.

 Adding Pictures

 Most forums will not allow uploading pictures to insert in the text. Most of those who do have either have a directory of pictures uploaded on the forum’s server which users can access through a drop-down menu, or the picture upload will have to fall under a predetermined limit (15 to 30 kilobytes for example). To add other pictures to your post you will need to know the exact url address of the picture, or have the picture uploaded to an account like Photobucket and use the url address from there. Keep in mind that many forums will take down any picture which is copyrighted (company logos for example), and using copyrighted materials could get your account suspended or banned.

The easiest method for adding pictures is with the img tag (example: [img]http://www.yoursitename.com/imagename.jpg[/img]). For most forums this will place the image directly into your post. , you can add a double tag (example: [url= http://www.yoursitename.com/imagename.jpg][img] http://www.yoursitename.com/imagename.jpg[/img][/url]). This method is technically not correct, and could result in your post being deleted. Again, different forums have different features enabled and disabled. If neither of the two methods produce a viewable picture within your post, the forum probably does not allow pictures. You may have to add a link to the page where the picture is viewable.

Other Basic Tags

The most common tags used are for text types. Those include bold, italics, underline, text size and color. The first three are typed as [b] [i] [u] with the text right afterward. When using any tag, just like HTML, you must tell the code to stop running with the / command (example: [/b] [/i] [/u]). Without the end command you will not see the effect you want to.

 Text sizes run form barely visible to huge. The different sizes are rendered with numbers – usually in multiples of ten from 20 to 200. To change the default size, type [size=number] before the text (example: [size=150]text[/size]). This will change the size of the text between the brackets only. All other text will be in the default size for the forum.

 Changing the text color, if allowed, can be done in one of two different ways. Simply type [color=the color you want] and [/color] after it (example: [color=red]text[/color]), or the hexadecimal triplet value of the color (example: [color=#FF0000]text[/color]. Either of the two, depending on the forums settings, will render the text between the brackets to the corresponding color. Be sure that the color name or hexadecimal value number is a recognized color (example: red, yellow, blue, etc.) - sky-blue-pink is not an option for recognized colors.

 There are other codes which can be used in phpBB, and multiple websites which have listings for them - the most reliable being phpbb.com because of its being developer’s website.

 With all this in mind, the next time you’re on a phpBB forum, you can be one of those people who look like a master.