Archive for July, 2014

July 1, 2014

The Oldest Trick in the Book and the Most Common Lie

Ah – you think this will be a post about prostitution, but it’s not. But I am going to talk about stripping.

Pretty exciting stuff.

Here’s the deal: the most common lie we tell ourselves is that technology has advanced far enough that you can have a What You See is What You Get tool for editing all of your web content. It’s called a WYSIWYG for short, pronounced whizzee-wig.

But it isn’t true.

Sure – it’s WAY better than it used to be. But if you’ve ever wondered why your Times New Roman started to look a lot like Comic Sans – this post is for you.

See – almost every widget you have at your disposal adds formatting information to your copy. And then when you cut or paste, or move things around, say, from Microsoft Word into your WordPress driven website, formatting Armageddon happens.

So here’s the stripping trick: Copy all of of that font hellishness over to a plain text editor. On a PC, it’s likely a tool called Notepad, and on a Mac, it’s likely a tool called TextEdit.

Both of those tools are exactly what they say they are: a plain text editor. Plain as in “no formatting” –so if it is

bold, 18 point and italic  in

WordPress, when you paste it into Notepad or TextEdit, all of that formatting goes away. Like this:


So – fine – now you know how to strip. Here are a few tips that just might help you avoid having to do that in public:

Write First, Format Second

Don’t get me wrong – what you write and how it looks are both very important. But resist the urge to format as you go – get the words in order and then go after the formatting.

Always use the same tool

Always start and finish with the same tool. If you are using WordPress – make ALL of your copy edits there – resist the temptation to create in one tool and format in the other.

Learn HTML

Almost all of the tools have a button you can press that will show you the HTML it is creating on your behalf. A little knowledge goes a long way – and after about 30 minutes, you’ll be able to spot that line break that is getting in the way.

When in Doubt, Start Over

Set a timer and stick to it – once you land in formatting hell, you should know when it is time to quit fiddling around with your text editor and just start over. Do the stripping trick, get all of your copy in place and THEN format it.

Use a Style Guide

You shouldn’t have to make it up every time. A headline should always be the same font, size, weight. Ditto for bulleted lists, numbered lists, pull-quotes, and the rest. Create or get a style guide that tells you what formatting to use, and follow it.