If you have ever used Wordpress, Movable Type or a Content Management System, chances are you have run across the problem of incorrect formatting. You start out with a beautiful, consistent look and feel throughout your site or blog and then, poof, you post a new page or post and the formatting is suddenly inconsistent and incorrect. How did this happen? And what can you do about it?
Those are the questions I want to address today.
How did this happen?
The most common reason for strange formatting (black text instead of blue, Arial instead of Times New Roman, etc.) is pasting from Microsoft Word or another similar program. Word, because it wasn't created for the web, formats its text differently than a browser. This means that often, when pasting in from Word, you'll get both the formatting you've selected in Word (be it Times New Roman, 12 pt. or Georgia, 11 pt.) and probably get some questionable characters that may or may not show up in your browser (ever seen a possessive noun with a ? instead of an apostrophe?).
How do I fix it?
There are several ways to fix weird formatting on your website or blog.
- Many CMS editors offer a Paste From Word option. In Wordpress, this is a tiny clipboard icon with a blue W. In Atlas CMS, it's a red W icon. If you copy from Word and paste using these buttons, they will clean the formatting for you.
- Paste into a text document first. Before pasting into your Content Management System or blog, paste your text into a plain text document and then copy it from there. Plain text documents cannot accept formatting and so they strip it out for you, leaving only your text behind.
- Strip the formatting. If all else fails, most editors offer an icon that strips the formatting and lets you start from scratch with your blog entry or webpage. On Wordpress, this is an eraser icon. In Atlas CMS, it's a format stripper drop down menu.