If this all seems a bit daunting, think of your teletext canvas as a slightly more (less?) advanced version of Microsoft Paint, Super Mario Paint or even a piece of paper. The only difference here is that you must ‘program’ the page to tell it where you want to add text or graphics using character codes.
Firstly, hit CAPS LOCK then ESC and Q to reveal character codes. We haven’t added any yet, so nothing should appear!
Using the arrow keys, move the rectangular cursor to the extreme top left of the canvas. Now, ensuring CAPS LOCK is still activated, hit ESC followed by either W (white), R (red), B (blue), C (cyan), M (magenta), Y (yellow) or G (green) to add a graphic character code.
Move the cursor to the first column of the next row and repeat the process. Keep adding graphic codes until each row has been programmed. You can now use your page much as you would a digital paint program.
Here‘s a page set up entirely with white graphics for you draw over with your mouse. Go on, try it out!
You may have noticed that you can add capitalised text and certain punctuation marks in the aforementioned ‘graphics mode’. For full text capabilities, there is a dedicated ‘text mode’ that can be programmed in much the same way as the graphics.
To add alphanumeric characters, insert a ‘text mode’ character code to the start of a line by ensuring CAPS LOCK is released before pressing ESC then one of the seven colour keys.
Of course, it is possible to insert graphic or text codes anywhere on the grid, but be aware that it will result in a ‘blank’, uneditable space.
Notes on troubleshooting
- You can delete a misplaced character code by highlighting that space with the arrow keys and hitting the space bar, or just overwrite it with a new character code.
- Undo a mistake by hitting your browser’s back button and refreshing the page. You can also ‘save’ your page locally by copy-pasting the page URL to a safe location.
- If your ESC button does not trigger, try using SHIFT+ESC to activate/deactivate character code mode.
You can save your page as a bitmap image by right clicking the canvas and selecting ‘Save Image As’, or share your page on the web by copy-pasting the full URL from your browser – all page data is stored right there in that very long URL! Here‘s a handy URL shortener in case your favourite social media platform doesn’t like you adding too many characters to your updates.
Don’t forget to post your url on Twitter! Tweet to @teletext40 or #teletext
Stuff that takes more than 10 minutes
But, but… there are loads more character codes in that list that you didn’t even mention!
That’s right, dear reader. Teletext is capable of so much more – just have a play around with the different functions, applying the same logic as above and see what you can create. Here are some brief pointers for teletext’s more ‘advanced’ options:
- Steady and Flash (f and F) – apply flashing effect. Add a Flash code just before the spaces you want to blink, then apply a Steady code where you would like it to stop.
- Normal and Double height (d and D) – make text or graphics two lines high. Note that double height graphics are a bit glitchy.
- Hold and Release graphics (h and H) – make a character repeat across many columns. This allows you to, for example, fill spaces normally left blank by character codes.
- Contiguous and Separated graphics (s and S) – activate/deactivate teletext’s trademark stylised graphic mode.
- Much of Lektrolab’s Cebra Text tutorial applies to general teletext page design.