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How do I preview what the ticket description will look like while entering a new ticket or editing an existing ticket?

The controls I see at the top of the description box are: enter image description here

The controls I see at the bottom of the description box are: enter image description here

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Try Visual editing.

As a JIRA administrator, you have to enable this feature in System > User interface > rich text editor. This should provide two buttons at the bottom of the description field, that allow you to switch between Text and Visual mode.

JIRA Entering Visual mode

Entering Visual mode shows the preview you're looking for.

See JIRA Core documentation for further details.

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