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LinkedIn has worked as a “plain text, no formatting” site for long enough that I don’t really think about trying to use formatting within a profile to do anything other than put the right amount of whitespace around material.

But when reader Joe asked about special fonts and colors in profiles, I decided to look into it.

It’s interesting enough to put up here, but don’t get too excited – you can use symbols, but don’t overdo it…

Copy and paste

I searched on the LinkedIn help site and found a response to an inquiry that mentioned one could copy and paste to get things like bullets and numbered lists – so I tried it.

The bullet didn’t quite look like the one in Word, but I was able to put one in:

· a bulleted item

Rather crude, but it is a bullet…

How did they do that?

I extended my investigation, testing html code and pasting other items onto my profile – without consistent success.  One thing is clear – as of today, you cannot use html code in your profile and expect it to work.

The site also “highlights” search terms, so when you click through to a profile on a search, the terms you were looking for will be called out on the profile – but the user didn’t do that, the search page did.

But I did find a source of characters and symbols that I could reliably paste…

Unicode

That’s a fancy word to descibe the allowed character set, but that’s my conclusion.

If you put specific unicode characters into your profile, they will be retained and displayed as best the viewer can.

So when I looked up the characters for the four suits in a deck of cards, they can go in:

♠ ♣ ♥ ♦

Or when I noticed that the character set includes musical notes, they too can go in:

♪♫

But – if the viewer doesn’t have a way to view those charaters, they get a rather odd “box” instead.  If you make extensive use of odd unicode characters, the viewer might be left wondering about your efforts…

Where can I get them?

I found a nice page on Wikipedia that has a good list of the characters:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unicode_characters

But you might be able to find a better site through your favorite search engine.

Kind of like sweets – a little could be good, a lot probably isn’t

Use some restraint here.  I don’t want to be remembered as the instigator that showed eveyone how to overload their profiles with extra symbols;-)

And another reason to limit these symbols – they probably won’t be helpful in matching search strings…

So there you go – a little bit of eye candy for your profile.

To your continued success,
steve

Steven Tylock
http://www.linkedinpersonaltrainer.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevetylock