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Client Tip 2: Word Documents

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

Everyone knows of Microsoft, and just as many know of Word its flagship Word Processor that comes bundled with the Microsoft Office suite. For many businesses if information doesn’t fit in an Excel spreadsheet it goes into Word. But many that use Word don’t know the frustrations it can cause to web professionals.

Two problems consistently crop up when a client uses Word:

Embedding Images

Many clients tend to add images into Word documents to indicate which images are required and where they are to be placed within content. This is an excellent idea when a client also sends the images in support of the Word document, but at times they do not.

When all a designer has available is images within a Word document the value of those images is greatly reduced. Not only does it take more time to extract the images from the document and save them as actual image files but once extracted they can commonly be small in size. This reduces what can be done with these images as they cannot be increased in size without loss of quality.
Simply put it’s about ensuring you provide information be it text or images that are fit for purpose and make your web developers job as easy as possible. Not only is making a your designers job easier a good thing but also it can save a client money as usually the easier the task the less time it takes, and time is money.

Content Management Systems

Clients are increasingly managing their own websites through Content Management Systems (CMS) and using Word as a method to write the content before copy and pasting the content into the system. Using Word in this way throws up a few issues for your friendly web designer.

Essentially what happens when content is copied from Word is that all the styling information such as text size, font choice and colour is copied too. When a web designer has taken into consideration so many factors into the design of a websites content it’s unfortunate that these decisions can be negated by the addition of the styling copied from Word.

As a Web Designer this can be rather annoying but a change of style doesn’t in itself break a website. Copying this hidden style information from Word can however break a websites layout completely. The hidden styling information that is copied from Word can actually interfere with the code that is used to construct the website and break the layout of the website. If this occurs it would usually result in a call to your friendly web designer to ask them to fix what’s gone wrong.

There is however a solution. What we ask our clients is for them to copy any content from Word into Notepad (or similar basic text editor) and then copy the content from Notepad into the CMS. This strips the content from all styling information, so any styling required would need to be reapplied using the available controls within the CMS.

This is the best and simplest way to ensure your content adheres to the style choices of your web team and that any copied content won’t break the website.