[NOTE: As of April 30, 2014, this post has been superceded by WordPress 3.0 wisdom: A paste in haste saves waste]
Today is a quick reminder and a suggestion related to pasting content you have drafted in Word into your WordPress website.
Through the week I had one of those rare moments where some wording on a client’s website did not behave the way it was expected too.
It was easily fixed, and I’ll share the story below but the main take away from this incident is a reminder about those two important keys in the WordPress editing window; paste as plain text and paste as word.
Your website has enemies and one of them is Word
Every day, your website is likely to be visited by hackers, cheats and crooks. We take measures to protect you against them, with security plugins and backups, and reminders for you to keep applying those updates when they appear.
But a nasty enemy dwells within your computer: Microsoft Word.
Although this is really a handy program for creating business documents and drafting your site content offline, you should NEVER copy and paste content from Word directly into your website.
This is because that underneath your harmless lines of words lurks invisible, poisonous coding that was telling your fonts how to behave inside Word.
This coding is fine for Word but guaranteed to interfere with your website or, in some cases, destroy your website until it is removed.
That is why WordPress and similar content management systems for websites give you buttons so that when you do copy content from Word, you can safely paste it into your website with this unwanted code REMOVED.
Word is fancy, Plain Text is smart
The Paste From Word button lets you paste words from Word with supposedly ‘safe’ styling elements in tact, like tables, bulleted lists, bold, italics and some other basic formatting.
This means you don’t need to do much reformatting of your work when it is inserted into your website.
However, as we shall see, this button can occasionally be a little too generous with what gets through, causing havoc.
My preferred option is to always choose Paste as Plain Text.
Paste As Plain Text really does strip everything from your copied text.
This means you will need to go through and reinsert bulleted lists and some other formatting elements within WordPress BUT you know you have nothing untoward creeping into your site.
How to reverse the damage
If you are reading this article and it is too late, you’ve already pasted directly from Word and have some misbehaving fonts and alignments, all is not lost.
Simply go to the Page or Post in question from the public view of the site, select and copy all the text.
Once you have copied the text, go to the edit screen for that Page or Post, click your cursor into the editing window then hold down your CTRL key while clicking A to select all elements, and hit delete. Yes, you are wiping the page.
Now click the Paste As Plain Text button in the second row of WordPress editing buttons and do CTRL and V to paste your rescued text into the box.
Click the Insert button which is on that Paste As Plain Text box and you will have safely pasted your text back into your Page or Post.
The final step, if needed, is to whip through and redo any formatting you require, reinsert images or video elements, then Update your Page or Post and you are done.
All I ask is if you meet someone else new to WordPress, impress upon them the importance of this step.