October 18, 2016 Last Updated 3:46 pm

Apple News now supports HTML markup, Apple says in email to publishing partners

Although most Apple News commercial publishers probably don’t manually input their content, small and self-publishers will appreciate the added formatting capabilities

One supposes that most publishers who are publishing to Apple News do so using their CMS or the WordPress plug-in, rather than manually inputting text. But Apple today sent Apple News publishers an email letting them know that their news app will now accept HTML text formatting.

header_logo_publisher2xYou can see the email below, if you haven’t received it by now in your in-box.

I suppose this is a good thing, but the fact that Apple didn’t allow this before just goes to show you the lengths Apple will go to dictate how publishers must interact with the company’s products. Every publisher knows how to publish to the web, but the early version of Apple News was so limited, reminiscent of iWeb or some of Apple’s other long forgotten products. Really, no HTML?

But for publishers, the real issues with Apple News are two-fold: 1) traffic can sometimes be good, sometimes surprisingly good, but it is always variable; and 2) monetization, monetization, monetization. Apple dumped its iAds efforts, so really what’s the point, why even have Apple News?

If Apple made a serious effort to get into the ad business, to compete against Google, it would know that there are a ton of small to medium sized publishers who need to monetize their content and want and need help. Instead, Apple does what it always does, which is talk to a small group of people who have told them that the number one priority is for them to be able to sell their own ads. But have you ever just once heard the heads of the major newspaper or magazine companies discuss Apple News during their investor conference calls? No, it just isn’t that important to them. Why set policy based on what people who don’t care have to think?

Today, all the major publishing companies can talk about is video, and the trade press is going along as if this is some new thing (hey guys, you’re actually late to the game, not on to some hot new trend).

In any case, I will believe that Apple is serious about Apple News the day they announce that they are providing support for it through their very fine developer support program. Right now, there is no one to call if you are a publisher – or, at least, not the NYT or Hearst or Condé Nast.

Here is what Apple sent your this afternoon to Apple News publishers:

Dear Publisher,

Apple News allows publishers to reach millions of readers every month. With such a large audience, it’s important to ensure your Apple News Format articles are error free.

With the addition of HTML text formatting, it’s now easier to translate text content from the web into Apple News Format.


HTML Markup

Along with Markdown text formatting, Apple News Format now supports HTML Markup and tag-based text styling. Supported tags include:

  • Strong (Bold): <strong><b>
  • Emphasis (Italics): <em><i>
  • Links: <a>
  • Lists: <ul><ol><li>
  • Line Breaks: <p><br><br />
  • Subscript and Superscript: <sub><sup>
  • Strikethrough: <del>
  • Preformatted Text: <pre>
  • Code: <code><samp>
  • Footer: <footer>
  • Aside: <aside>
  • Block Quote: <blockquote>

To use HTML Markup, set the format property on supported components to html.

Example JSON:

    "role": "body",
    "text": "<a href=\"http://www.apple.com/news/\">News</a> collects all the stories you want to read, from top news sources, based on topics you’re most interested in, so you no longer need to move from app to app to stay informed. News also combines the <strong>rich and immersive design</strong> found in print with the interactivity of digital media, letting you enjoy stunningly <em>crafted articles</em> that reflect the style of the publications they come from.",
    "format": "html"

For more information, including a list of unsupported HTML tags, see the HTML Markup for Apple News Format appendix in the Apple News Format Reference.

Download the latest version of News Preview to preview Apple News Format JSON. Xcode is required to use News Preview.

Tips and Tricks

Adjust Column Layout

Apple News Format’s Column System allows publishers to craft a single design for the largest iOS device and it automatically scale down to smaller devices — from 12.9-inch iPad Pro to iPhone SE. Adjusting an article’s column layout can allow for more fine-tuned control of component layouts on larger device sizes.

For more information about Apple News Format’s Column System, see Creating Content for News in the Apple News Format Reference.

Utilize columnStart and columnSpan

Tailor the layout of your articles for all device sizes. Utilizing columnStart and columnSpan for component layouts ensures engaging designs on large iOS devices while preserving legibility on smaller iOS devices.

For example, articles with a 10 column layout and body components with layout of “columnStart”: 1, “columnSpan: 8” will receive centered body text with larger margins on iPad devices while preserving full-width body text on iPhones, creating a more comfortable reading experience across all iOS devices.

For more information, see Component Layout in the Apple News Format Reference.

Promote Your Channel
Use the Read it on Apple News badge, Follow on Apple News badge, or the Apple News icon whenever you promote your articles or your channel outside of News. You can find more information about these different badges and how to use them in the Apple News Marketing Guidelines.


The Apple News Team