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Adding a Signature File

Written by Hanan Ammar, forum member and host of Fun Social Studies for Kids.

If you have seen all of those cute little pictures at the bottom of posts, you may be wondering just how it is done. It isn't very difficult, and even for those relatively new to computers, it can be achieved with a little time and patience.

In order to make this as simple as possible, I am going to give rudimentary instructions. I apologize in advance to those of you who know the basics.

Copy and Paste
To copy and paste text do the following:

  • Place your mouse at the left hand side of the item you want to copy.
  • Click and hold the left mouse button down, while dragging to the end of the area you want to copy.
  • Release the button and the text should be highlighted.
  • Either go to edit, at the top of the page, and click copy or press ctrl + c (at the same time) on your keyboard.
  • Place the cursor where you want to paste the information to
  • Either go to edit, at the top of the page, and click paste or press ctrl + v (at the same time) on your keyboard. The text should reappear in its new home!

Important Information about Graphics
Just like any other file on the computer, graphics files take up space on your hard disk. The amount of space they take depends on the physical size of the picture, the resolution and the form that the picture is stored in.

Graphics, or pictures come in various forms. Some of the ones that you may have come across include .bmp, .gif and .jpg. There are others, usually related to a specific graphics program. Usually bmp format uses a 24-bit palette, and so it uses more storage space. Files in the .jpg and .gif formats use 8-bit palettes, so they take less storage space. Ideally a signature graphic should not exceed 25kbytes, or it takes too long to load.

Physical size is also important, the smaller the physical size of your picture the fewer bytes it will take to store. Obviously you don't want it so small that the details are lost. It is important to remember that a file that is greater than 450 pixels in width will cause your message to be too wide for the screen. This causes readers to scroll horizontally to read your message, which most people find very annoying.

URL or Address
In order to add a signature with a graphic to your posts, you need to understand what the address or URL is. If you look up at the top of your screen, you should see an address bar. It has the address or URL of this page. It begins with http://. Sometimes if the address is long you cannot see it all in the window. If you click on it the entire thing will be highlighted, not just the part you can see. You can copy and paste it elsewhere using edit or the keyboard, as stated in the copy and paste section.

Finding the Right Picture
Now you know the basics, you should be able to make your own signature. There are only a couple more things that you need to know.

  • In order for other people to see your signature, it must be stored on the Internet somewhere. It will not show up if you link to it from your hard or floppy drive.
  • If you want pictures of family or friends you need a scanner or digital camera.
  • If you want to take a picture from somewhere else on the Net, you should capture it and store it to your hard drive first, then upload it to your storage space. You should not link directly to someone else's site.
  • You should check that the site you take the picture from allows copying for personal use (if it is for forum use you needn't worry about rules pertaining to commercial sites/use).
  • If you want to search for pictures. go to any search engine that has a button for image searching. Enter the type of image you are looking for in the search box, and hit go. Both www.mamma.com and www.altavista.com have the ability to search for images only.
Uploading to the Net
The next step is to upload the pictures to your storage space on the Net. Over the past few months many sites have stopped allowing remote access. In other words, they are unsuitable for storing pictures for signatures. One site that still gives free space and allows linking is www.worldzone.net . If you go to that site you can sign up for space.

For pictures from the Net:

  • Capture the picture you want. Do this by right clicking on the picture and then choosing save as.
  • If the file is not jpg or gif format, you can change the format as you save it.
Uploading:
  • Open your storage space and find the button that says upload.
  • Press this and you will see a button that says browse.
  • Press browse and you should see the directories on your hard drive.
  • Locate the file and press open.
  • Now the address of the file on your hard drive will show in the window.
  • Press upload file.
  • After a few seconds you should see a message saying that the file has been successfully uploaded.
  • And giving you the URL.
  • Copy and paste the URL to a blank notepad file.
Making the Signature
  • Open the forum, and go to My Forums (located on the top right of the gray bar, just to the left of the related forums box)
  • Go to my preferences.
  • Scroll down until you get to the area for signatures.
  • Below the box for entering the information, there is a small box saying check here if signature contains HTML, check that box.
  • Scroll further down and hit submit.
  • Once the new page comes up saying your information has been submitted return to the forum.
  • DO NOT ENTER ANYTHING IN THE SIGNATURE BOX JUST YET!

In order for your signature to show, it needs to have some html tags, and a little bit of code. Don't worry. It sounds more difficult than it is. < > are the tags that tell the computer to read the code. The code you need is img src. This stands for image source. It tells the computer that it is looking for an image. Next you need the URL, so the computer knows where to look. That's it. It's that simple.

The code should look like this: <img src="http://the URL code for your site and picture">

Example:

The URL for my picture is: http://wonkypages.com/me/something.gif. I need to enter it like this: <img src="http://wonkypages/com/me/something.gif">
Spaces and "" marks are important; don't forget them.

  • Start a new thread in the forum, under Forum Tips and Testing.
  • Write anything in the text box.
  • Enter your code into the signature box below the message box.
  • Hit preview, your picture should show up!
  • If you are happy with it hit post.
  • If not, hit revise and try again. or cancel, and start from scratch again.
  • If you have posted it, and it shows up fine, then copy and paste the exact same code into the signature area in My preferences, under My Forums. Don't forget to hit submit!
Resizing
If you think your picture is too large you can resize using the code and tags.
  • Right click on the image and then click properties.
  • Check the size and write it down.
  • Width should not exceed 450 pixels
  • If it does, reduce the size or the picture by dividing, BOTH height and width by the same number.
  • Add the new size to your code, like this:
  • <img src="http://wonkypages/com/me/something.gif" width=newwidth height=newheight>. The sizes are in pixels so it may look like this:
  • <img src="http://wonkypages/com/me/something.gif" width=400 height=250>
New Forum Formatting If you are using MSIE you should see a formatting box when you post messages. If you have this, and you cannot make your signature work, just copy and paste the code to the message box, with a little note saying help, and someone will help you figure it out.

If you are using Netscape, you can do the same, but you have no formatting box. If you want the code to appear in the body of the message, do NOT hit the HTML button under the message box.

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