MS Word as a HTML Editor

MS Word can produce HTML code and is widely available.  It is therefore a very frequent choice for creating and updating web pages.  It does have the disadvantages of producing an excessive amount of HTML code and not coexisting well with other methods of maintaining web pages.  Here I will explore this topic in greater detail.

The following table lists URLs are web sites and documents that discuss the HTML code produced by MS Word and how to improve the situation.  I've added a comment for each.  Below the table I have some personal remarks.

URL Comments Advice from Fermilab CD on using MS Word to create HTML.  Comparison of HTML produced by MS Word and by Dreamweaver. Minos advice on Editing Tools for creating HTML (by Cat James).  It advises not to use MS Word. Tech Republic article on HTML produced by MS Word.  It discusses the HTML filter for Word 2000.  The nice feature of this article is that is discusses in depth how to do additional HTML filtering by using the MS HTML filter in stand-alone mode. UIC instructions on using Dreamweaver to clean up MS Word generated HTML. IU page asks "When I use Microsoft Word to make web pages, why is the resulting code so long?"  There isn't much of an answer, but there is a discussion of using the HTML filter for Word 2000 to cut down on the size. UT site that discusses HTML generated by MS Office 2000 applications & gives a Microsoft browser compatibility white paper reference.  It has links for the MS HTML filter. Advice from the University of Victoria. Byte magazine article on the subject. Advice from NetMechanic.

Personally noted disadvantages of using MS Word

I've tried MS Word as a HTML editor on a copy of an existing NuMI document--the commissioning web page.   That web page has Minos CSS styling applied to it (the older style recommended by Cat James--not the newer XML styling that she now advocates).  The test done was to change one word, and then do "Export to Compact HTML" (which used the HTML filter that was downloaded).  The result was that some of the Minos CSS styling was still evident, but MS Word had visibly altered things.  For example, everything was pushed to the left side of the browser window.  Use of the more severe HTML filtering available from the stand-alone HTML filter executable was tried, but the end result was not pretty.

Using the NVU HTML editor I inserted an anchor into the Run II Upgrade internal web page.  This is a web page that had been generated by MS Word.  The anchor would not function in Internet Explorer 6, but would work in Netscape 7.2.  I then regenerated the web page by using "Export to Compact HTML" (the added command added by the HTML filter) in MS Word 2000.  The anchor then worked in Internet Explorer 6.  To see how the anchor lets the browser jump to a chosen location in a web page, try this link to the Run II Upgrade internal web page, which uses the anchor.

In MS Word one can highlight some text with the mouse, do Insert, Hyperlink and then use the Browse for File button to choose a file as the target of the hyperlink.  This can result in having the relative path for the file contain the wrong kind of slash "\", instead of the right kind of slash "/".  Internet Explorer 6 accepts such a result, but Firefox does not.  I can't recall what Netscape 7 does.

Substitutes for using MS Word

There are numerous lists of possible editors to create HTML.  Yahoo has this one.  Netscape Composer, Mozilla Composer and NVU seem to be close cousins.  NVU may have the temporary advantage of allowing installation of only an editor--instead of a package of applications.  It is available for both Windows and Linux platforms.  I've used NVU to create this web page.  I've been using it instead of Adobe GoLive 6--as a comparison test.  It's doing quite well.  However, I have experienced some inexplicable crashes, which may be due to having multiple web pages open.  If used on HTML generated by MS Word, it helps to use the MS HTML filter to get rid of some empty paragraph construct browser tests (<![if !supportEmptyParas]>&nbsp;<![endif]>) that NVU alters to make into HTML comments, and that then become visible in a browser.