Finding time to send out engaging and clearly-written e-mails is an important part of connecting on-line, whether you’re communicating with friends, customers, or colleagues. Sometimes, though, technology (in this case, in the guise of text formatting) can offer unanticipated challenges to realizing this goal. A case in point is an e-mail that we sent to our list last week.
It was about a free call being offered by my friend and colleague Heather Dominick. I wanted to share it with my list because I know Heather’s work, and this was an excellent opportunity for others to get a taste of what she offers. Our e-mail, set up in plain text, went out on Tuesday morning and soon after, I discovered that, while it looked just fine on most platforms, on my Mac it included all sorts of strange formatting and confusing characters.
I asked my VA to do some research into this issue, because this was definitely not the kind of reading experience that I wanted to offer my subscribers! She discovered several tips and tricks that can help you quickly remove unwanted formatting from your e-mails (or from any documents, for that matter).
Here are 3 Time-Saving Tips that will help weed out formatting that you don’t want:
- This article titled “How to Remove Unwanted Formatting from Text” offers a couple of freeware options for stripping out unwanted formatting, including StripMail and PureText. Both will strip most (but not all) formatting. The email “>>” characters seem to be especially stubborn, when it comes to this clean-up process.
- Another option is to copy-and-past your text into Notepad, which will remove any formatting in the original document. This is the method we have typically used for our e-mails; however, in this recent instance, it wasn’t entirely successful.
- Selecting the text you want to remove formatting from and then clicking CTRL and the Spacebar will convert what’s highlighted to plain text formatting.
BONUS TIP: The biggest culprit, we discovered, is often the so-called “Smart Quote.
None of the tools mentioned above will strip out the formatting when your text includes smart quotes. There are two solutions that will work for dealing with this formatting challenge:
- Turn off Smart Quotes. Smart quotes look ‘fancier’ than regular quotation marks. Here’s an example:“The e-mail I sent had some odd formatting that I need to fix,” This is using Smart Quotes. Here is the same sentence with the kind of quotation marks that WON’T lead to formatting problems: ”These are the ones you want to use!”The process for turning off Smart Quotes will vary, depending on the version of Word that you are using. Here’s an example of how it’s done for Word 2007.
- If you’ve already got Smart Quotes in your text, then you can use the “Find” feature in Word to ferret out every place where these characters exist. Then use the “Replace” feature to convert them to regular quotation marks.
Removing formatting from text can be a fairly simple process, given the right tools and an awareness of what to watch out for. So, I hope you find this information helpful, and if you’re a small business owner, consultant, or entrepreneur who would like to learn more about creating and maintaining a successful business, then this is for you!
© Copyright 2012 Paula Eder, Ph.D.