Copying and pasting from Word and similar tools

Modified on Sun, 27 Nov, 2022 at 8:10 PM

Many users create and format content in other text editor tools like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Hemingway. When it comes time to copy and paste that content into an online platform (such as — but not limited — to Contently), your carefully crafted formatting seems to change and can lead to issues down the road. 


See additional details below specific to what software you might be using, but in short, these tools transform the HTML of your text which is then not always compatible with other editors such as Contently when copy and paste. 


Microsoft Word


Web pages are designed using HTML and CSS and browsers utilize these two languages to render content. However, Word is a software application and not a web page and the text formatting it displays are created using XML. When you paste your content from Word into the browser, you're pasting both the text and their XML formatting tags.


Browsers can understand some XML and they do their best to display your content back to you, but a significant portion of these tags are not understood by most browsers. As a result, your content is unlikely to look the same and can lead to what might seem like formatting bugs.


This issue, therefore, is not a result of anything the Contently platform is doing, but rather the interaction between the content (tags and all) you're pasting and the browser. 


Google Docs, Hemingway, and other similar tools


If you're not using Word, you may be using online tools such as Google Docs or Hemingway. While these are great tools, pasting content out of Contently and into their editors will change the HTML and CSS as those tools required to support their technology. What will affect this further is if you're copying that same content out of those editors and pasting it back into Contently. This further manipulates the HTML. Doing this can lose to formatting issues immediately, or lead to additional issues down the road when editing, including lost edits. 


It's like a game of telephone where each person speaks a different language to the other. 


Below are our suggestions to try and resolve the issue between the two:


1. Clear all formatting

If after pasting content you notice your formatting isn't the same, or are experiencing unexpected formatting behavior, we recommend using our "Clear all formatting" feature. 


This will clear all formatting and reset the HTML. You can do so by clicking the Clear Formatting icon as shown above. Paragraph breaks and links will be maintained but all other formattings will be removed.


2. Clean the HTML using Notes (Mac) or Notepad (Windows)


If you don't want to clear all the formatting of your content and/or are pasting specific sections, we recommend first pasting content from other editing tools into Notes or Notepad (depending on if you're a Mac or Windows user) and the copy and pasting again back into Contently. Doing this will clean any troublesome HTML elements, and simplify the text. 


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