Microsoft Word making weird characters in your blog or email?
So you’ve crafted a new article, carefully copied it into your blog, pressed the Publish button, and then visited the home page to check your work — only to find weird characters strewn throughout your blog article.
You may find characters such as those in the image to the left, or question marks or other gibberish characters such as strange accented A’s strewn about your article, but whatever they are, theyÁ areÁ notÁ welcomeÁ.
Know what I mean? <grin>
What’s happened here?
A closer inspection reveals that the weird characters have replaced quotation marks, apostrophes and dashes. One cause of this is writing in Microsoft Word before copy/pasting into WordPress — if Word is set to use "smart quotes" (curly quotes). Unfortunately, while Microsoft Word is great for writing, it’s a word processing program — meaning that it’s output is intended for print. And printer characters such as smart quotes have no direct Web translation, so they get replaced by weird characters. (Of course, if you visit the site in Microsoft Internet Explorer, you will see less of these characters; I guess Microsoft tries to "protect" their users from seeing what is happening). However, not everyone uses Internet Explorer and the articles are littered with the weird characters.
Weird characters in Email
I mention WordPress, the famous blog software, because WordPress converts text to web coding, so that your output can be displayed properly on a website.
But the same thing could happen with email. If you write email with formatting such as special fonts, bold, italics or colors or you insert images into your email, your email program is assisting you by converting your input into "HTML email" — meaning Web-ified coding that supports anything more than plain text in a typewriter-style font.
Unfortunately, email programs are generally even less standardized (or up to date) than browsers, the programs we use to surf the Internet — and, if you’ve ever received an email containing trademark symbols and other gibberish in place of apostrophes (or similar gibberish), you now know how that came to be: copy/pasting from Microsoft Word without turning off "smart quotes".
How to turn off Smart Quotes in Microsoft Word
You can fix this on future blog articles and email by turning off smart quotes in Word:
- On the Tools menu:
click AutoCorrect Options, and then click the AutoFormat As You Type tab
- Under Replace as You Type:
select or clear the "Straight quotes" with "smart quotes" check box
Then, before you cut/paste into WordPress, make sure there are no curly quotes in the document; if there are, just use Search/Replace to replace them with straight quotes.
So, there’s the end of the mystery. May your web pages and email contain no more weird characters!
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