As the name says I need a text editor that has just these basic options. I don't need anything else, is there a such text editor?

I don't wanna use "big" editors like LibreOffice or Word, because they all have a bunch of options I don't need. And also, documents written in them are intended for printing, not for viewing on computer, so they limit the max line length, I don't want that.

So to summarize, I'm looking for text editor with following options:

  • Set color to selected text, so that one document can be in my colors
  • Set text size
  • Document that I'm writing isn't intended for printing but for viewing on computer
  • Is free
  • Available for Ubuntu
  • Preferably open source

Plus minimal other features.

Note that some standard text editors like on Notepad provide almost all of these features but not one (which is most important to me): set color to text.

  • What about the Windows built-in Wordpad? That can do what you ask
    – Mawg
    May 16, 2017 at 7:44
  • 2
    @Mawg - not Free or free and not for Ubuntu. I will say that it runs OK in Wine ... but with that amount of overhead the OP could probably just use OpenOffice... which he/she has stated is not desirable.
    – ivanivan
    May 16, 2017 at 12:25
  • Do'oh! How on earth did I miss "Ubuntu"? Please accept my apologies
    – Mawg
    May 16, 2017 at 12:26

3 Answers 3



I would recommend you to use Markdown for that purpose.

You can write your stuff in any Text Editor. It is very readable in plain text and very easy to learn the basics.

If you want to have a more advanced editor, there are dozens to chose from. I use typora (but I mostly write plain text).

When it comes to viewing or exporting to HTML/PDF only, I can recommend the FireFox addon MarkdownViewer. Copy paste from MarkdownViewer to LibreOffice works perfectly. Similar exists for Chromium.

  • AsciiDoc is another simple but powerful mark-up language like Markdown. May 16, 2017 at 7:19

Plain text doesn't support ANY formatting options, unless you are creating some other file type that also happens to be plain text - HTML for example.

Between plain text and full-blown word processing with Office (MS, Open, Libre, Apache, WordPerfect, whatever) is the Rich Text Format. It does have more choices than you specify - bolt, italic, underline, etc - but that is probably the format you want...

So, I'd recommend taking a look at Ted - https://www.nllgg.nl/Ted/ Should do what you are asking....

Another option would be to use a WYSIWYG HTML editor like Nvu/Kompozer - but these are rather old these days... http://www.kompozer.net/download.php

  • +1 for Ted. It is something similar to Windows WordPad, and even edits and saves .rtf files like it. May 16, 2017 at 4:43


Personally, I would first consider Markdown (in Answer by RoVo) or the similar simple-but-powerful mark-up language: AsciiDoc.

Both Markdown and AsciiDoc can be edited in simple text-editors such as Atom or you can used more specialized editors.

Either Markdown or AsciiDoc can be used to generate HTML for web pages. Or you can generate documents in other formats.

I mention two more possibilities for completeness: HTML & RTF.


If your needs are simple, and you aim to deploy to screen rather then print, then you could use the world’s most popular mark-up language: HTML, specifically HTML5. Learning the few basic tags such as H1, H2, p, em, strong, class is quite easy.

Then learn a bit of CSS for separately specifying your fonts, sizes, colors, and other presentation formatting. Again, learning the basics of CSS is quite easy. A little CSS goes a long way to nicely format your document.

You can use plain text-editors for editing both the HTML & CSS. Or use the features in a programmers’ IDE such as NetBeans (free-of-cost). Or used a dedicated HTML/CSS editor such as WebStorm, or peruse this list of 20 Best Free HTML Editors for Linux and UNIX.

RTF – Rich Text Format

As other said, a text-editor by definition works only with plain-text and has no concept of font, font size, or font color. A document with fonts and colors and such is called rich text.

One of the earliest formats for rich text was developed by Microsoft: Rich Text Format (RTF). Many apps are available for reading and writing RTF documents.

You can indeed color text in RTF.

I do not recommend RTF, only mention it as an alternative. The format is not known for being sensibly designed. While Microsoft has occasionally released specifications, they never clearly thoroughly defined/documented every detail. Nor was RTF ever standardized.

See: What is the simplest RTF editor in linux? where people suggest FocusWriter or AbiWord if you hide most of its UI such as toolbars, statusbar, etc.

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