I more often than not compose my nodes in Wordpad (no flames!), complete with paragraphs, etc. I then go back and insert the HTML so that it looks like I expect (typically a <BR><BR> for paragraphs), any italics, bolding, etc, then cut and paste it into the text box.
I do this not so much because of Netscape crashes (IE *does* tend to be more stable, like it or not), but back from when the site would get lots of server errors. Or, in case I do something remarkably stupid, like forgetting to click new. I don't typically save the Wordpad document unless the net seems unusually flakey, but I usually don't close Wordpad until I see the node submitted successfully.
Using Wordpad, or any other editor besides the text box, gives a better feel for the article, since you're seeing more of it at one time. I think seeing more of it in the editor also helps you reflect on the overall tone of the article, and allows you to judge what you're saying before you go on a holy flame war. And, you can even run spell check against it.
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Posts may use any of the Perl Monks Approved HTML tags. Currently these include the following:
<code> <a> <b> <big>
<blockquote> <br /> <dd>
<dl> <dt> <em> <font>
<h1> <h2> <h3> <h4>
<h5> <h6> <hr /> <i>
<li> <nbsp> <ol> <p>
<small> <strike> <strong>
<sub> <sup> <table>
<td> <th> <tr> <tt>
Snippets of code should be wrapped in
<code> tags not
<pre> tags. In fact, <pre>
tags should generally be avoided. If they must
be used, extreme care should be
taken to ensure that their contents do not
have long lines (<70 chars), in order to prevent
horizontal scrolling (and possible janitor
Want more info? How to link
or How to display code and escape characters
are good places to start.