Staging Content for Websites: Google Docs & Clean HTML

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While working on websites, we at Stanford Web Services have found that inventorying and rewriting your content so that you're ready to put it into your newly-delivered (but relatively empty) website is one of the toughest parts of migrating to Drupal.



Often, people will prepare content in MS Word documents, and when they paste that content into their website's WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, they end up with a bit of a mess. That's because MS Word doesn't store formatting as clean HTML.

Luckily, there are good (and free to Stanford users) tools out there that do write clean HTML!

Preparing your Content for the Web with Google Docs

The best starting point for collaborating on HTML outside of your site is Google Docs. Docs allows users to edit simultaneously and keep revisions of the new website content, and current faculty, staff and students have access through Google Apps at Stanford. I recommend saving a Google Docs page for each page of your new site and keeping links to those pages in a central Google Docs spreadsheet.

While writing your content, use H2 (heading 2) , H3 (heading 3), bulleted list, and numbered list options. Reserve bold and italic for emphasis. That way you'll generate well-structured, search engine optimized, and more accessible content when you paste it into the new site. One warning: do not use the H1 style because your Drupal page titles will be the only H1's in your site.

Paste into the WYSIWYG

When you're ready to paste into the WYSIWYG edit window, keep in mind that style and font information will often "come along" with the words and formatting.  Your first step after you paste should be to remove those style characteristics.


  1. Copy all content that you'd like to add to the page.
  2. Click the Paste icon (clipboard with a document displaying MS Word logo.)
  3. Select all text.
  4. Click the Remove Format icon (blue eraser to the right.)
  5. Using this process will help you get the cleanest HTML possible.


Of course, the best option of all is composing your content directly into the WYSIWYG. However, we can't always live in a paste-free world. When typing in content isn't realistic, pasting existing content and removing formatting will give you a good result.

Your tips

What tools and practices do you put to use when working with content in Drupal? We would love to hear from you!

Note: websites use a variety of WYSIWYG editors. In the Stanford Sites Drupal environment, we use CKEditor. These instructions may not work for other WYSIYWGs.




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