I see this happen all the time with clients. The write up content in Word or Wordpad, and then later try to copy and paste into WordPress. The resulting mess usually confuses many. In fact even if there isn’t an obvious mess to the user, there is sometimes a very large behind the scenes mess.
So how do we copy this content into our blog?
It doesn’t matter what you are using, whether it’s Open Office, Pages on Mac, or even copying and pasting content from another website. If you paste formated text into a WYSIWYG editor you will end up with a mess.
What is a WYSIWYG editor?
When you are in the back end of WordPress and you are posting a blog entry, you’ll notice that you post it into a box with formatting icons on the top of it. You can make text bold, change it’s font size, colors, the list goes on. This is a WYSIWYG Editor, it stands for What You See Is What You Get.
If you paste already formated text from an external source into a WYSIWYG Editor you will find that it tries to keep the formatting intact. This results in a bunch of text, possibly an entire post, that doesn’t match the formatting of the rest of your site.
In fact, even if you paste the text into the box and it comes out looking half way decent, you might be surprised to find out there is a lot of hidden code in the background. You can’t see this code but it could be there.
The reason you want clean text, is not only because you want your posts to look like the rest of your site, but also because if there is a bunch of hidden code that serves no purpose it can possibly dilute what the search engines see on your site as content. In all cases I think it just serves your blog best if you keep it as simple as possible. It’s really not difficult.
How can I clean the text before pasting?
The easiest method is to just click the “Paste as Plain Text” button, or for a really cool effect “Paste from Word”. The first option will just clean all formatting from the text and you will need to reformat it all to match your document. Personally I use Google Docs and I just don’t ever use formatting, I just format it when I get it over there. It makes it pretty easy to manage topic ideas and content on the go from any computer.
The latter option is for if you actually drafted your document in Word. What this option does is take and remove all the formatting that MS Word adds, and replaces it with valid clean HTML markup. This is handy because it will keep bold text bold, but with proper HTML code. It will keep text that you marked as a “Heading” as the same heading you formatted it as. It won’t necessarily be able to replace all the formatting properly, but it should do a pretty good job of it. If you use this feature you’ll quickly be able to learn what will work and what won’t.
To find these buttons you have to make sure that you turn on “Show Kitchen Sink” it’s the last button on the top row, this will display a second row, which will give you the buttons we’ve talked about above.