Copy from MS Word, Paste into a Rich Text WYSIWYG editor

Why is copy & paste a problem?

The problem isn't copy & paste. The problem is WHAT is being copied & pasted. Plain text (content without any styling) is completely safe to paste into a Rich Text editor. However, rich text content consists of 1) text and 2) styling.

MS Word is not good at creating web sites

There are plenty of choices for accessing the web (PC, Mac, phones, iPad, IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc). Ideally, a web site needs to function reliably in all of these environments.

What’s the solution to copy & paste?

As described above, the embedded styling (found in copy & pasted content) is the problem. Consequently, the solution is simple and obvious:

This solution is unrealistic, content authors will revolt

Everything I've written is well known to developers. Furthermore, features for automatically detecting and cleaning dirty content are widely available.

Is Clippy the solution to our problems?

This post has now come full circle and we’re no closer to a real-world solution:

  1. Authors create content in their preferred writing environment.
  2. Authors want to move this content to the web site.
  3. Copy & paste is a logical choice.
  4. Authors are confused when everything goes to hell.
  5. Authors complain to developers.
  6. Developers allow pasted styling to make authors stop complaining.
  • It empowers authors to make their own choice
  • It educates authors about the consequences
  • It only displays when relevant
  • It contains useful information
  • It will go away

If you build it, they will come!

Everything described happens because authors avoid writing content in their CMS’s Rich Text editor. The hacky style stripping & modal windows are completely unnecessary if authors simply type the content in the CMS.



Coder, Marketer, Storyteller, Hiker. Working as a Demo Engineer at Salesforce. Opinions are my own.

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