Saturday, October 17, 2009

Copy-pasting text from web pages without messing up formatting

Perhaps like me you often copy-paste text from web pages into your Word documents. For example, I am currently involved in a translation project that includes a lot of Bible verses. I am obviously not going to type these in from scratch every time, rather, I will copy-paste them from Bible Gateway of course.

Only problem is, the verses on Bible Gateway are formatted in a different family and size of font from my Word document, so when I paste them in to my doc, it does so in the source font and I then have to change the font, size etc. which is a pain. Also, there is a danger when copying from a web page that you will also copy across HTML tags that won't be visible, but could play havoc with your documents later.

So you need to use Paste Special instead of just CTRL-V (you DO use keyboard shortcuts to copy-paste I hope! CTRL-C to copy, CTRL-V to paste!). Paste Special is up on the Edit menu in "normal" versions of Word. If you are using 2007 onwards, sorry, can't help you, but I am sure it's there somewhere in the famous "ribbon"!

Copy your text from your webpage, then go into your Word document and select Paste Special. You will see a dialogue come up and, without worrying too much about all the options, just select Unformatted text and OK (or just double click it). Hey presto, the text is pasted in the same font as the text you were working on at that moment. By the way, this tip applies to any source of formatted text, not just web pages.

The only problem with this is that it is more cumbersome than just pressing CTRL-V, and there is no keyboard shortcut for "Paste unformatted" - you have to navigate up to the appropriate menu with the mouse, or learn the key sequence as I explained here. However, if you feel you are up to it, Microsoft's site has an article explaining how to write a macro to do this.

Happy pasting!

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