Invisible Formatting- a hidden meance
This is a really quick post to warn about the dangers of hidden formatting. You know what I’m talking about, when you have some copy that’s been sent to you in an email or a word document, and you copy and paste it into your CMS or campaign tool and it just doesn’t look right.
It’s got weird spaces. There are line breaks where there shouldn’t be. There aren’t line breaks where there should be.
This is probably because there is formatting applied to the text that you can’t see in the original document.
How do you get around this?
There are two ways. First is that you can use the clear formatting tool that you get on most text editing applications (including CMS systems). It’s the little icon that usually looks like a rubber. This is OK, but I sometimes find it does quite do the job completely.
My preferred method?
Nice and simple. Open Notepad (or TextEdit if you’re on a Mac ensuring it’s in plain text mode) and paste the content there. Once you’ve done this, you can then copy the content out of notepad and into the text editor on your CMS and apply any formatting you need, like paragraphs, header or lists.
Why do this?
Notepad is a plain text editor, so it strips out any formatting and just shows the characters, the bare bones of your content. It highlights any weird characters you might not have known were there, any line breaks, any funny spacing.
Does it matter?
If your a pedantic like me, then yes, it does. Plus it will save you time trying to figure out why your content isn’t doing what you want, saving you pressing the return and delete keys over and over and over again trying to figure out what’s going on.
It also helps pick out subtle changes you might not notice too, like if you’ve copied a source that’s Arial pt 11 whereas your default font is Arial pt 12, or where the font colour is black whereas yours is a slightly lighter shade of grey. These sound like trivial things, but you’ve spent time, effort and probably money on the design of your website, so don’t waste it!
I recommend this approach for pretty much any content editing, whether it’s on your website or composing an email. I even do it if I’m working offline on word documents, presentations or spreadsheets because I find it saves me a lot of frustration.