Advice · Associated Content · basic HTML · computer · Life · writing · writing for money · writing online

Welcome to the Web. Know Your Enemy.

The web’s greatest enemies are word processing programs. They do violent and unpredictable things to web forms. With a little knowledge you can avoid hours of heartache and destruction.

Now don’t even start with the, “but every web site on earth needs to work with Microsoft Word.” The worldwide web standards are not controlled by Microsoft. Just because you happen to use MS Word for everything is no reason for the rest of the world to conform to your limits. Arm yourself with a little knowledge and get with the program.

“Keep is Simple Stupid,” is the best advice you can take away from this article. Use a very basic text editor to write things you plan to paste into a web form. Articles, resumes, and feedback rants are all examples.

Why are word processor so heinous?
Programs installed on your PC have access to the PC’s operating system, font definitions and formatting options. They also use proprietary codes to work their magic. Web servers do not have these nifty attributes. They expect you to provide plain text. When your text contains codes the web form can’t decipher, horrible, nasty things happen.

If you have dodged the bullet until now, chances are you were just keeping it simple when typing in Word. Trust me it will bite you eventually.

A little HTML goes a long way
The web runs on HTML. Just learning a little bit can be a life-saver. There is absolutely no reason to not learn the basics. Having a “mental block” is not an excuse. HTML is too easy. You need only know a hand-full of tricks to simplify your life.

1. Hypertext Markup Language is all about putting tags around your text which make the browser do certain things. HTML tags are inclosed in less-than and greater-than signs. To mark the end of what you want the tag to do, you use less-than, slash, tag, greater-than. Seriously, it’s that simple. For example <b>make it bold</b> gives you make it bold.

2. Know the basic tags: b=bold, u=underline, i=italics. That will cover 90% of your formatting needs.

3. Hyperlinks are simple. HTML has a multi-tasking tag called the anchor. You use it to create many things, but the one you’ll need most is a hyperlink. The format is: <A HREF=””>My Blog</A>. This leaves the words “My Blog” for the reader to see, but if they click on them, their browser goes to the address. So the results are: My Blog. (Note: the tag is case-insensitive.).

Why should you listen to me?
I know. I know. Some say this is all too difficult to bother learning, but I promise it will save your text one day. Some say, “Word has worked so far,” but I promise it will get you eventually.

I happen to be the technical weenie for a site which process hundreds of résumés each day. About once a week, we get notice of someone whose résumé won’t transfer correctly. One hundred percent of these cases have been people who pasted word-processor documents directly into the web site which houses their résumé. If you’ve ever been perplexed by Associated Content not displaying your article correctly, just think how these poor people feel when the window to apply for the job is closing in a few hours and they have no résumé to send.

All you Word die-hards, I’ll be looking for you in the AC forums. It’s just a matter of time before you post in a panic.


7 thoughts on “Welcome to the Web. Know Your Enemy.

  1. The newer versions of WordPress now have the option to import Word documents. This gets rid of all the formatting errors at least for blogging but it never hurts to write in basic html.

  2. Darn you Barefoot! Another thing I need to worry about. I learned your HTML link thingie but that just isn’t enough for you. NO! Now I need to learn hypertext markup language AND give up Word. I just give and give and give but it isn’t enough for you. Next you will make me give IE and go to Firefox. Cyberbully!

  3. I absolutely agree with the assertion that “A little HTML goes a long way”as does the ability to link. Being a bit obsessive (okay, PLENTY obsessive) I’ve had to restrain myself from linking here, linking here and linking,linking everywhere. I must be really out of the loop because I never heard
    described as less than and greater than signs outside of algebra class. Is that a technical term? If so, I guess I need to get a HTML for dummies book right now! Back to Square One for me.

  4. Thanks for clearing up yet another mystery for me. I have to find a good HTML guide somewhere, do I can read it at my leisure!

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