Tag Archives: Web formatting

From Word to HTML

Do you need to prepare Microsoft Word documents for web publication?

If you are creating web pages, you can use a web layout program such as Dreamweaver or Frontpage. Even if you are merely preparing text for the web, you can use one of these programs to generate the hypertext markup language (HTML) code so that it’s ready to be placed within a web layout, often via a content management system.

However, When someone “copies text from Word and then pastes it into a [content management system], a ton of proprietary [Microsoft] code is copied along with it,” wrote Michael Rohde in the HTML primer “Basic HTML That Everyone Should Know” on the HTML Goodies website. Content management systems “all treat HTML the same and learning a little HTML now can help,” wrote Rohde.

Also, now and then something will go sour in the code, and it helps if you can fix the code yourself. For this, too, you need a working knowledge of HTML, and a good starting place to acquire this knowledge is HTML Goodies. The free resources—primers and tutorials—get you started, and the original seven-lesson primer by Joe Burns is both easy to understand and entertaining.

Basic HTML coding is easy. Before posting an entry on this blog or on a content management systems at work, I put it into HTML and make a web page that I can look at and make sure that the text formatting, such as italics, is correct; that all hyperlinks work; and that typographical characters, such as curved quotation marks, are correctly rendered. You can fix these things with a web layout program, but sometimes it will make a real hash of things out of sight. I opened the code in one web file to fix something and found 87 font commands surrounding a picture. It’s far better to provide clean HTML for web publication. You can do a lot of the work in Microsoft Word, and formatting for a simple file can be done in a few minutes. (I don’t recommend using Word to make web pages; it creates bloated files that are hard to edit if you need to, say, fix a web address.)

In the next post, I’ll describe some easy HTML formatting you can do in Word before you change it to HTML. Meanwhile, if you’re new to HTML, study the seven-lesson primer on HTML Goodies and come back in about a week. (Don’t be afraid of HTML! When my manager first told me, in 2001, that I should learn it, I was reluctant. Then I tried it, and I liked it. Compared to Word, which can yield unexpected bizarre results, HTML is logical and generally predictable.)