Copy and Paste from Microsoft Word to WordPress?

If you use Microsoft Word for writing and WordPress for publishing, you already know they are not very compatible. Somewhere in the process of copying and pasting content, the format of your site starts to look like a mess.

The reason for this is that in the copy/paste process, Word includes a lot of extra HTML that makes WordPress “forget” your theme settings. This forgetfulness is caused by what software developers call “inline styles.” You can’t see them in the visual editor, but they’re important because they force your text to look the way Word wants, not WordPress.

Fortunately, you have a few options to prevent this additional HTML code being imported into WordPress, making it possible to fix this annoying problem.

Manually clean your content

The first option is to clean your content manually. That is, to go into the HTML and remove Word’s inline styles.

To do this, you need to change your editing mode in WordPress. By default, WordPress uses a “visual editor” mode, which behaves like Word. You are probably familiar with your text looking different when you press the bold or italics buttons or using headings to change font size. Exactly like Word does.

To manually clean your content you first need to switch to WordPress “text editing” mode. This mode lets you change the HTML hidden by the visual editor, which you access by selecting the “text” editing tab at the top of the editor window area.

Once in text mode, you will see a lot of extra HTML that you now need to remove. If you have ever had to do this before you know it can be a slow and tedious process, so be patient. Plus you need to have a basic knowledge of HTML.

Remove all formatting, then add it back

If you don’t have HTML knowledge, your second option is to copy your content from Word into a plain text editor—such as Notepad on Windows or Notes on OSX—and from there copy/paste it into WordPress. Basically, a two-step copy/paste process.

For most people, this is an easier task than manually cleaning HTML in WordPress, but it also has some disadvantages. The biggest issue is that any formatting you had in Word (bold, italics, headings, links) is discarded by the plain text editor, and therefore won’t appear in WordPress.

Just like manually cleaning the HTML takes a lot of effort, you’ll also need to set aside time in your schedule to manually add all your styles as well as recreate website links.

Automatically clean your content

Unlike the first two options, which require a lot of manual effort, expertise and time, the third option is to use WordPress plugins that automate the cleaning of your Word content.

The same company that builds the TinyMCE editor in WordPress makes a plugin that does this for you. The solution is called PowerPaste, and it has been used by content professionals around the world for years. It’s a little like a productivity secret weapon in their workflow.

What PowerPaste does is automatically remove Word’s inline styles (the cause of the problem in the first place), leaving valid HTML behind. In a sense, it’s like typing directly into the editor but with all the benefits that come from using Word. Most importantly, your site design won’t get messed up with weird fonts and headings.

If you’re interested in automating the Word to WordPress copy/paste problem, check out the TinyMCE PowerPaste for WordPress page for more information. Who knows, perhaps it will become your content secret weapon too.