If you copy and paste from the web, you frequently get a bunch of garbage and some bad formatting.  The same can be true with PDFs and other such documents, and formatting each individual item is aggravating to say the least.  When I was working on a project to organize and format questionnaires for a clinical psych lab, I ran into a lot of issues when it came to copying and pasting.  I'm sure some people already know these tips and perhaps take for granted that not everyone knows how to do this, so this is for people who struggle with formatting and want an easier solution than painstakingly editing each line.

This Instructable shows to quickly format copied text for reuse on the web, for an email, or for a document using Notepad and Word (2003).  Here is the source used in this example.

If you want to more clearly see the process, click on the "i" on each image and view the original size.

Step 1: Copy and Paste Into Notepad

Copy and paste the text into Notepad.

Further Explanation:
  • Open Notepad and the application/document containing the text you would like to format.
  • Highlight the text and hit the CTRL button and the C button at the same time.
  • Open the Notepad window and click on the white space.
  • Hit the CTRL button and the V button at the same time.

Step 2: Copy and Paste Into Word

Copy and paste the text from Notepad into Word.

Note:  This will help give you the raw text without the hidden formatting such as URLs.

Further Explanation:
  • Open Word and the Notepad screen.
  • Highlight the text and hit the CTRL button and the C button at the same time.
  • Open the Word window and click on the blank document.
  • Hit the CTRL button and the V button at the same time.

Step 3: Removing Bullets and Numbering

Bullets and numbers (or really any sort of weird spaces or characters) usually have a rhythm to them, and you can remove these bullets/numbers using the rhythm to your advantage with the Replace function in Word.  Once the bullets/numbers are removed, you can quickly go back through the text and add them again using the usual methods.

Copy the bullets/numbering plus any symbols and spaces that appear before each line of text.

Go to Edit->Replace (or hit CTRL+H).

Paste into the "Find What:" box.

Click on More->Special->Any Character or type in "^?".

Replace ^? for any numbers or recurring characters.

Leave the "Replace with:" box empty unless you are wanting to substitute for a character, format character, or text.

Hit Replace All and click Yes in the next box.

Repeat the process for double digit numbers by adding another "^?" next to the other.

Repeat once more for triple digit numbers if they exist.

At this point, you can add the bullets/numbering back using Format->Bullets and Numbering.

Step 4: Adding/Removing Paragraph Marks

After every return for a line of text, there is a hidden paragraph mark.  You can use this to add or remove paragraphs/returns.  You can add extra paragraph marks/returns, or you can delete excess paragraph marks/returns.

For Adding Paragraph Marks:
  • Go to Special->Paragraph Mark or type "^p" into the "Find What:" box.
  • Type "^p^p" into the "Replace with:" box.
  • Click Replace All and Yes.
For Removing Paragraph Marks:
  • Type "^p^p^p" into the "Find What:" box and "^p^p" into the "Replace with:" box.
  • Click Replace All and Yes.
  • Repeat until the replacements is 0.

Step 5: Regional Formatting

Sometimes you only want to remove or add formatting to a particular portion of a text, or you may only want to work on a portion of the text at a time such as when you want to remove paragraph marks/returns to one portion but not to the entire document.

Highlight a portion of text you would like to format differently than the rest or separately from the rest.


Enter your "Find what:" and "Replace with:" text, characters, or formatting characters.

Click "Replace All" and then "No".

Note:  If you click "Yes", the replacements will be made throughout the document which would defeat the purpose of selective editing. 

Step 6: Swapping Out Formatting for HTML Code

You can also use characters or formatting characters to insert HTML code.  In this example, I will be adding line breaks for every paragraph mark.


Type "^p" into the "Find what:" box and "< br > ^p" (minus the spaces) into the "Replace with:" box.

Click Replace All and Yes.

Step 7: Copy Back Into Notepad for Web Applications

Copy the text in Word and Paste it into Notepad.

Copy the text in Notepad and Paste into the application you intend to use for publishing if other than Word.

Step 8: Formatting by Hand

Not everything can be done by replacement.  You will need to format by hand or edit portions individually.
hello, <br>i'm quite new here. can his format technique work for the mac format. can it also be applied to ipad format where it could be enlarged by fingers?
Nice....the only problem I have is that I can't afford WORD. SO I must use OpenOffice (I think it has changed hands again, so it may be called something else....). I will see if the instructions translate well, later.
Unfortunately I don't think it does - just checked. I'm using Word 2003, which you can find on eBay for $20-30 if it helps at all.
Not really, it isn't very secure. I will look at what you were trying to do, when I get a chance, and then maybe I can post the same instructions for those few of us that can't afford Word :-)
used to do this A LOT as well back in the day...<br><br>assuming taken from http://snapjudge.posterous.com/paraprosdokian<br><br>in looking at the HTML source, there was simply a <li> between each line item<br><br>copying the source and pasting into work as raw text &amp; then searching and replacing each <li> with a new line = one step ;)<br><br>hopefully sounds helpful :)
sorry, just realized you linked source to a different page, but in numbered HTML lists it's same same :)
Going to the source code and editing from there is definitely an option, but if you know to look at the source code, then you probably know how to do this. I'm trying to keep it simple for people who aren't as comfy with source but who might want/need to blog, send out newsletters, or something along that line of skill/knowledge/interest. ;-)
all good :D<br><br>my &lt; /li &gt; &lt; li &gt; got stripped out in original post

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