Why are the backgrounds of your WYSIWYG editor fields colored?

From Joomla! Documentation

The simple answer as to why this happens is in the term WYSIWYG. Content editors such as TinyMCE attempt to allow users to see what the text they're entering will look like when it appears on the Frontend of the website. To this end, they show the text against the color or image specified in the template.css file of whatever template the Frontend of the website is using.

This often presents a problem for users when their website is designed to appear as a lighter content pane floating over a dark background. The darker background is what appears in the editor windows, making the text almost impossible to see. In such cases, it may be necessary to tell the editor not to use the template.css file as a reference, but rather to use a different CSS file.

Note Some editors such as JCE and FCK have configuration interfaces that allow you to override the template.css file or to ignore template classes. Explore this option before trying the solution below.

Step 1: Create a customized CSS file. The first thing you'll need to do is to write a customized .css file for your editor. It doesn't have to be very complicated, and you can use the file below for reference.

/* CSS Document */
/* Editor Assigned Styles */
/*make sure that any styles you put here also exist in your ''template.css' file or they will have no effect in the front end */
p.rightalign {
text-align: right;
.red {
color: #c00;
.green {
color: #0c0;
.highlight {
background-color: Yellow;
color: Blue;
padding: 0;
p.code {
background-color: #ddd;
border: 1px solid #bbb;
.small {
color: #999999;
font-size: 10px;
/* Body Tag for Background Color and Font Specs. */
body {
font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Sans Serif;
font-size: 12px;
color: #333333;
background: #ffffff;
/* Optional Basic Stuff you can use to make everything look like it does on the site itself */
/* you can get this stuff right out of your template.css file, or you can just leave it out */
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
list-style: none;
line-height: 16px;
padding-left: 16px;
padding-top: 0px;
background-image: url(../images/arrow.png); /* use the real image path that you have on your site. An absolute path is okay. */
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-position: 0px 2px;
td {
text-align: left;
font-size: 12px;
a, a:link, a:visited {
color: #c64934; text-decoration: none;
font-weight: bold;
a:hover {
color: #900; text-decoration: none;
font-weight: bold;

Make note of the comments in the file above. The first section consists of text classes; you'll want to go into your template's template.css file and find the text classes (.highlight, .small, etc.) it specifies that you'll be likely to use in your content and make sure to copy them into the editor_content.css file as well. The same is true of the styles defined in the last section (a:hover, td, ul etc.).

The key part that fixes the background issue is the body style specified in the middle. You can change parts of this to match your template if you like, but leave the background rule set to #FFFFFF. This will make the editor windows white, as opposed to the dark background color of your site template.

Incidentally, if your website uses a background image in addition to a color, the same thing applies.

Also, if this is too much work, you can just copy and paste your template's template.css file into a new CSS file and change the body style so that the background is set to #FFFFFF. This is less neat and orderly, but you'll be sure you have all of the classes and such defined properly this way.

When you've finished, save your new CSS file as editor_content.css.

Step 2: Upload your CSS file to the correct directory.

You'll use an FTP client for this. If Joomla! is in a separate folder, you'll navigate to:

joomla/templates/[the template you're using]/css/

If you don't have Joomla! in a separate folder, just go to whatever directory houses your Joomla! files. The key is to make sure you're in the correct Frontend template folder for your website. Upload your editor_content.css file to the CSS folder under this template directory.

Note that in most cases, the only other file in this directory is a file called template.css. If you see that file, you're probably in the right place. Also, note that there is a css directory in joomla/templates/ as well, but this IS not the directory you're looking for. You want the CSS directory under the template you're using.

Step 3: Point your Editor to the new CSS.

Now go back to your site and into the Administrator area. Click on Mambots and Site Mambots to see the list of Mambots currently in use in your website. Check TinyMCE WYSIWYG (or whatever WYSIWYG editor you're using) and then Edit to open the editing pane for the editor.

Look to the right side under Parameters and scroll down until you see the option entitled Template CSS Classes. Click the radio button to no. Right under this is a field entitled Custom CSS Classes. In this field type:

templates/[template you're using]/css/editor_content.css

Then Save and exit.

This should correct the background issue in your editor. If it doesn't, you've either set up your editor_content.css file incorrectly or you've uploaded the file to the wrong directory.