WordPress Problems with Pasted MS Word Content

One thing that you quickly learn when maintaining your own WordPress blog or website is that you can’t copy and paste content directly from Microsoft Word documents without any problems. When you do, for example, you’ll find one of two things:

  1. Your content looks strange and appears in a different style from other text on your website.
  2. Your content does not even appear in Internet Explorer.

Why copying from MS Word causes formatting problems

When you cut and paste, MS Word tries to preserve the style information contained in the original document. And this style information causes problems because it (1) does not match the styles for the rest of your website and (2) it often contains information that interferes with how Internet Explorer should display the web page.

Fortunately, this problem has been well-documented and there are a few easy fixes.

Solution 1: Use the Paste from Word Button

All recent versions of WordPress (and its TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor) have a little button in the editing panel which enables you to remove the excess formatting. See the image below:

WordPress Paste From Word  

If you are using Dean’s FCKEditor plugin, see the image below:

FCKeditor Paste from Word  

You will also notice another button on the left of the Paste From Word button which enables you to Paste as Plain Text. This is another equally useful option for removing formatting.

Solution 2: Use an Alternate Editor

There are several offline blog and text editors which can serve as a great replacement for MS Word. Some include Windows Live Writer, Blogo, WordPad, and Notepad. These simpler editors are great because they add no additional formatting of their own.

Other Potential Problems

If you are the sole editor of your blog, it is easy enough for you to use the solutions above. But if there are multiple authors on your blog, or if you’ve created a blog for a client, you’ll inevitably run into this problem over and over again. So what can you do to FORCE all users to copy and paste using the above method? Not much…

But there is a super useful plugin by Dave at This Much I Know, which basically stops users from pasting content directly and instead presents them with a paste window. For advanced users, this plugin is highly customizable by editing the source code directly and changing some of the TinyMCE initialization settings.

If you know of any other similar plugins or filters that remove MS Word formatting, please leave a comment.

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21 Responses to “WordPress Problems with Pasted MS Word Content”

  • Kurt Avish April 2, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Normally if i have to copy or quote a part of a text i paste it in notepad, remove word wrap and then recopy to paste in wordpress.

    Weirdly Ihave the habit to do my drafts on notepad :P There are piece of notepad drafts all over my document folder lol. Then I just copy a post to wp when i have to publish and format accordingly with photos and h1 or h2 tags.

  • stratosg April 2, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Well i will have to agree with Kurt. The best way i do my pasting is pasting to notepad and then copy/pasting from there. Just because notepad removes all formating and plain text is what is left. Nice post there!

  • Nathan April 2, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I always ‘Save As’ from word and choose ‘Web Page, Filtered’ as the type. This removes most of the Word specific information. Although that’s probably a similar result as the paste from word option.

  • Dennis Edell April 2, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Oh yea this is an oldie but a goodie. I’ve been warning for years to not cut from MS for anywhere…way too much crap-code is input.

    I use notepad as well, but may try some others you mentioned.

  • Ajith Edassery April 5, 2009 at 2:32 am

    If I am using MS Word for editing, I usually copy paste it once to notepad and again copy paste on to the WP editor. I hate MS Word’s quote characters which are many and sometimes URLs can get screwed up because of this.

  • Ben Pei April 13, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Yeah just like Dennis said, I use notepad for most simple writing, copy and pasting.

  • Kim Woodbridge April 22, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I don’t use Word at all – don’t even have Office installed. I use Notepad++ and highly recommend the program to Windows users.

    But I do run into this problem with clients. I can usually teach them to use the paste from Word button. The plugin also sounds like it could be useful with certain clients.

    Funny that IE has the most trouble rendering Word ;-)

  • Ben Pei June 12, 2009 at 4:17 am

    By the way, is that MS 07?

  • Houston Web Design June 24, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Great article. I come across a lot of bad code that comes from copy and pasting directing from Word into a WYSIWYG editor. Google tends to associate this bad code with spam as people who rapidly build website for the purpose of spamming, tend to copy and paste from word and produces this bad code. To the commenter above me, this relates to all version of Word.

  • Renowned Media August 21, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I’ve always done the whole “paste into and copy from notepad” approach, but that always removes formatting. Dreamweaver does a decent job of cleaning up.

  • Freelance Web Designer November 26, 2009 at 6:51 am

    The best way i do my pasting is pasting to notepad and then copy/pasting from there. Just because notepad removes all formating and plain text is what is left.

  • qreviews April 18, 2010 at 7:07 am

    I always use same the solution 2. I just use notepad for copy a lot of text. Thanks.

  • Net Age | Web Design May 6, 2010 at 6:35 am

    Notepad is the weapon of choice this side for doing drafts in. Personally I really don’t fancy Microsoft’s Office products and use OpenOffice instead. How is OpenOffice with cutting and pasting into WordPress?

  • Paul August 12, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I have never used Word to author Web pages, mainly because of the problems you addressed above. My preferred tool is Notepad++, which is a plain text editor. The keywords are automatically colour-coded properly for me when I open a specific file – much like a developer’s IDE.

  • Ice Skates For Sale December 7, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    This post takes me back to when I started to use WordPress for blogging. Not knowing then what I know now it was quite infuriating to put it mildly. I was just so used to using Word for writing but boy was I glad when I learned what was causing my problems. There will be many who will be delighted when they read your post.

  • Free Energy Generator February 10, 2011 at 5:31 am

    I usually write my texts in the simple “notepad” software that comes with windows and then format it in wordpress or the editor of the article directory to which I want to submit the text.
    I once even had my screen get completely locked, just because I copied text from my OpenOffice into the online editor of an article directory o.O
    Won’t happen again!

  • Charleston March 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Agree but I’m still using MS word to write my article content as it could easily corrects grammatical error.

    After everything’s written, Its good idea to transfer the write to Notepad before shifting to WordPress.This is what I usually do and it clears out all the browser probs.

  • Andy April 7, 2011 at 4:38 am

    when I copy/paste stuff from word into wordpress I just switch to the source code view in wordpress and post in there, that avoids the whole formatting problem. I don’t need the WYSIWYG editor anyhow, so that’s not a big problem for me…

  • Uday August 30, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Hi,

    1.i copied image from word document
    2.past in FCk Editor
    3.image not displaying in fck editor.
    4.Help me..

  • Brent November 27, 2011 at 4:22 am

    I am having problems pasting “smart art graphics” from word 2007. I can paste one at a time but it makes them into images with the image data mixed in with the code (plus it is a pain to do one at a time). I also tried saving the document as a single page html file but that didn’t work either. Any suggestions for being able to copy and past a whole word document into wordpress?

  • suresh August 26, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Good useful information. I was struggling and breaking my head on why this is happening.

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