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Using the Rich Content Editor (RCE)

What Is the RCE?

The “Rich Content Editor” (RCE) is a core Canvas tool used to enter text and other content in a wide range of areas.  The RCE is the basis for the Pages tool, but it is also used for Announcements, Assignment instructions and submissions, Discussion prompts and posts, Quiz questions, and more.

The new RCE has all the same features as the old RCE, as well as several new features, including a redesigned toolbar and Auto-Save.



Video Guides

The following videos provide an overview and tour of additions, changes and enhancements in the new Rich Content Editor.




The following video from Case Western Reserve University is also an excellent overview of the changes, and illustrates several specific workflows.


There are a variety of changes to the Rich Content Editor, including a consolidation of several items in the toolbar, relocation of some tools, automatic resizing of the editor text box (when typing), and an Auto-Save feature (see video below for more info).

Toolbar Changes

Notable changes to the RCE toolbar include:

(A) Course Links (Pages, Assignments, Files, etc.) are consolidated with External Links (web site URLs).

(B) Course Images includes link options from multiple sources, or upload from your computer.

(C) Course Media includes options to record, upload, or embed video from multiple sources.

(D) All External Tools (Google Drive, 3C Media, PlayPosit, etc)  have moved to the Plug-in icon at the top right.

(E) The Accessibility Checker has moved to the bottom right.

(F) The HTML/Text Editor toggle has moved to the bottom right.

Screenshot of the new Rich Content Editor toolbar


Toolbar Icon Consolidation

In the new editor, related features have been consolidated into single icons with drop-down menus.  The icons themselves have also been updated.

The table below gives the old and new icons and labels for icons that have changed significantly and/or been moved to an option in a drop-down menu.

Classic editor New editor
Tooltip label Icon Tooltip label Icon
Clear formatting Classic Clear formatting icon Clear formatting New Clear formatting icon
Align leftAlign center, or Align right Align left, Align center, and Align right icons Align leftAlign center, or Align right New Align drop-down
Superscript or Subscript Classic Superscript and Subscript icons Superscript and Subscript New Superscript drop-down with Subscript option exposed
Decrease indent or Increase indent Classic increase and decrease indent icons

Increase indent and Decrease indent

(The drop-down with the Decrease indent option is only visible when text is indented.)

New Increase indent drop-down with Decrease indent option exposed
Bullet list or Numbered list Classic Bullet list and Numbered list icons Ordered and Unordered Lists New Orderd and Unordered Lists drop-down
Insert/edit media or Record/Upload Media Classic Insert/edit media icon Classic Record/Upload Media icon

Upload/Record MediaCourse Media, or User Media

New Record/Upload Media drop-down
To insert media with an embed code, use the Embed icon. New Embed icon
Link to URL or Remove link Classic Link and Remove link icons

External Links or Course Links

Edit Link or Remove Link (if a link is selected)

New Links drop-down New Links drop-down with Edit Link and Remove Link options exposed
Embed image Classic Embed image icon

Upload ImageCourse Images, or User Images

(Choose the Upload Image option to upload an image file, search for an image file in Unsplash, or enter the URL for an image.)

New Images drop-down
Embed External Tools Apps; this icon opens a searchable list of the available external tools New Apps icon
Left to right or Right to left Classic text direction icons directionality, and then left to right or right to left

New directionality drop-down


Functionality Changes

Course Links and External Links

The “Course Links” sidebar along the right has been removed. 


Options for adding course links (links to internal course content such as Pages, Files and assignments) and external links (outside web sites) are now included in the Link icon. Clicking the downward arrow to the right of the Link button will give you two options: External Links or Course Links:

Select External Links to create a link to anything outside your Canvas course, such as a Wikipedia or WordPress page. After clicking External Links, copy-and-paste the address of the External Link into the “Link” field.

Select Course Links to create a link to anything inside your Canvas course (except files), such as a page, assignment, or discussion. When you click Course Links, a right-hand panel will open that lets you browse all your course’s content. Click on a category of content to expand it, then click on the item you wish to link to.



The method of adding links to course documents (stored in Files) has changed.  Use the Documents icon in the toolbar to choose from the option to Upload a new document, or select a Course Document (Files), or User Document (User Files).

RCE toolbar - Documents icon

See the Canvas Guide:

How do I embed documents from Canvas in the Rich Content Editor as an instructor?



The new RCE includes an auto-save feature to reduce the loss of content edits while working.

NOTE:  Students will only see content that has been manually saved and published.  Auto-saved content will not be visible to students until the instructor clicks the Save or Save and Publish button.




Read More

Complete list of features and enhancements in the new RCE
A comprehensive list of new features, including screenshots and detailed information about how to use the new toolbar.

New Rich Content Editor – Interface Overview
Descriptions and screenshots of the many changes to the toolbar and RCE interface.

New Rich Content Editor – Inserting Links
Changes to the workflow for inserting links to web sites or internal course content.


If you have comments or suggestions for improvements to the new RCE, please visit the Ideas page for the new RCE in the Canvas Community.


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