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Formatting in email and word processing

Formatting in email and word processing.

A common problem, from the beginning of the age of email to the present, has been the difference of formatting between email functionality and word processors, such as Microsoft Word. While the relative ease of use has made both email and word processors invaluable to the modern office, it is important to remember that they are two fundamentally different programs.

They are so different, in fact, that they are programmed using different computer languages. This actually dates back quite a while, to when email was primarily a tool of governments and universities and before it became popular for home and business. The difference can be compared to using a metric wrench on nuts designed with Imperial measurements; the wrench can come close, but it won’t be quite as effective. The HTML used in most email programs is not the same as the HTML used in modern word processors.

The upshot of this is: if you copy and paste text from a word processing document into an email, the end result can sometimes look a little bizarre. The text may appear to be too large, or might wrap itself in an odd way, with line breaks appearing mid-sentence rather than where they were intended.

Why doesn’t this always happen? There are a number of possible reasons, sometimes related to formatting:

  • Bolds, italics, and underlines.
  • Change of point-size for the font.
  • Fonts that exists in one program, but not another.
  • Special formatting or indentation.

It’s also important to note that the conflict might not be something that’s visible to you at all, but in the HTML code of the programs themselves.

One common work-around is to remove the formatting from the text before pasting it into the email. While this does add an extra step, it can also prevent a headache! Computers using Windows have a program called Notepad (usually located in Accessories on the Start menu). Notepad does not retain the formatting created in word processors or emails, so it can be handy for resolving formatting conflicts by:

  • Copying the text you intend to use.
  • Pasting the text into the open Notepad program.
  • Copying the text from Notepad and pasting it into the intended program.

Once the text is in the body of the email, you can make formatting adjustments to it using the email program.
 
 
 

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