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Simple Techniques Can Save Time and Aggravation When Copying Source Material Into another Document
[Ed Note – I wrote this specifically about the Notepad technique, but if you scroll down to the Comments, you'll see that some of our awesome readers have weighed in with related tricks for Macs, Google Docs, etc.! – KW]
One little trick I use all the time is removing the formatting from text with a simple copy-past, copy-paste into and back out of Windows Notepad. If you create a lot of content and often take text from one source and copy it to another, this can be a big time saver.
For example, suppose you wish to grab some content from the web or an article and it contains a title with a large font, a subtitle with a slightly smaller one, and body text with various formats and links. One might copy it, paste it in to the target document, and then work to reformat it to look like you want. But sometimes this can be pretty time consuming, involving a lot of clicking and dragging, and still present some challenges, especially with large blocks of text that may consist of mixed formats in different sections.
Try this instead: copy and past the content into Windows Notepad (I always have a shortcut to Notepad in my task bar to make it 1-click to access). When you paste into Notepad, content loses it's formatting. It becomes very “clean”. All one format, links removed, extraneous images gone, etc. And little blocks of text that may have come from sidebars in the original document are quick and easy to delete.
Now, if you re-copy and paste that content from Notepad into the target document, it will inherit the default formatting of the document you are working in. It will also be easier to reformat.
Give it a shot some time and let me know how it works out. I hope you find it as helpful as I do.
I'm not sure if there is an equivalent to this in the Mac environment (does anyone reading this know?).
[…] next post is just a quick how to on clearing formating from text. Â Yes it has applications if you’re going to be copying text for use in a class, so for that […]
Thanks Brian and Ove for the Google Docs, the script, and the special paste tips! Very helpful!
Sorry: You have to use Command + Shift + ‘v’ to paste (Normal paste + Shift). It works in Windows, Mac and Chromebooks : )
You can also do this in Google Docs – either as the described method in your post – or if you use Docs as your word processor. Copy a text and when pasting just use Comand + Shift and the text will be formatet to the format in the doc. Very simple – and time saving : )
It’s funny you mention grabbing plain text to format because this is a question I would get when teachers were trying to find the Lexile level of a piece of text. The lexile.org tool requires a plaintext file, which is surprisingly click-heavy to make. So, I wrote a quick script to scrape the HTML text from a website. You can see it in action on the bookmarklet landing page.
The other option, if you’re working in Google Docs, is to use the clean format paste hotkey: Command/Control + Shift + V. It’ll keep the formatting of the current doc, not the source formatting.
Thanks Chalice and Andrew!
Yes, on a Mac the equivalent to Notepad is the”TextEdit”.
On a Mac, you can do the same thing by using the TextEdit program and convert it to “Make plain text” under the format button. I’ve done this for some documents and it’s worked well.