Word and Gmail?
December 14, 2011 4:40 AM   Subscribe

Gmail and Word Question: just recently, perhaps since the new look Gmail, sometimes when I compose a long email in Word, then copy and paste the text into an email reply, it looks fine, then I hit Send, and it ends up being sent without the proper line breaks. Specifically, the blank line between paragraphs (two paragraph marks from Word) become just one new line, and the email looks like a huge wall of text. There didn't seem to be any way for me to know that this would happen, as it looked fine when pasted into the reply box before I hit send. Also, if I compose a new message and post the text, it seems to go through fine; this only happens with reply. Is there an easy fix that I can do every time to stop this from happening? Can anyone explain this? Thanks.
posted by surenoproblem to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Do you need to use Word? I use Notepad, which is pretty much the most stripped-down text editor I have, and those formatting hiccups never happen when I paste into any other program.
posted by xingcat at 4:47 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I believe gmail still has a way to edit the raw text of a message...yup, there's a link called Plain Text right next to the formatting buttons. You may have better luck if you switch to that mode before you paste anything.

I wouldn't really recommend it, but Word does have an Export to HTML function, and if you attach the resulting file it will display inline on most mail readers.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:51 AM on December 14, 2011

I've written several web apps that allow users to compose emails, and users pasting text from Word have been our biggest headache. Word uses all kinds of non-standard formatting and weird character encoding. Copying and pasting text from Word into a web app (such as Gmail, or one of my apps) means that the web app has to do a lot of extra work to try to preserve your formatting and convert it into a format that will display correctly in the recipient's email client.

Gmail probably contains all sorts of hacks to cope with Word's weird formatting salad, so it's impressive that it works as well as it does.

Ideally, to ensure that all recipients can read your emails without formatting issues, you should compose them in plain text. So, as xingcat suggests, Notepad is a much better tool for offline email composition. When you include formatted text in your email, there's no guarantee that any two users will see exactly the same thing.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:54 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

A fix: Everytime I write an email in Word first, I always cut-and-paste it into Notepad, and then cut-and-paste it into GMail. Works like a charm.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:55 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

Or cut and paste into Gmail with Gmail in Plain Text mode, then if you need formatting click Rich Formatting in Gmail.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:04 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

After you paste the text from Word into Gmail, select all the text in the e-mail composition box and then press the "remove formatting" button (a T with a little red X in the corner). At this point, you will see if the line breaks or other formatting features were going to change. Of course, then you'll have to go back through the e-mail manually and add back in any bolding, italics, or line breaks that you wanted.
posted by datarose at 5:59 AM on December 14, 2011

Thanks for all of the answers.

The problem isn't when I'm composing using Rich Formatting but actually when I'm composing a reply in Plain Text mode.

I just did a test composing text in Notepad, and the problem was still there.

datarose's answer was very helpful; it seems if I paste then toggle from Plain Text to Rich Formatting, I can see what Gmail will do to the plain text from Notepad.
posted by surenoproblem at 6:13 AM on December 14, 2011

Seems I'm not the only one who notices this:


I'm still all ears for any other easy solutions. Thanks!
posted by surenoproblem at 6:17 AM on December 14, 2011

I'm clinging to the old Gmail look like grim death. Hopefully by the time they force me to switch, bugs like this will have been ironed out.

Probably worth your while to see if you have a "revert to the old look temporarily" option available under the new six-pointed gearwheel thing.
posted by flabdablet at 7:21 AM on December 14, 2011

I've been having this issue recently with Gmail, even composing directly in Gmail in plain text. Lots of broken/random line breaks seen on the recipient's end. I'm glad I sent an email to myself at another address or else I never would have noticed.

Something has changed. Everything worked fine for years until the recent redesign. My only recourse has been to compose in rich text, the very thing I always avoided due to... formatting issues. Ironic?
posted by quarterframer at 7:50 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't seem to have any issues with Gmail, but I CAN recommend a great text editor that you can try. It might solve your problems.

NoteTab is an excellent portable (= runs off a USB key) text editor from Switzerland that comes in three versions: Light (free), Standard and Pro. I paid for TextPad (another great text editor), but I almost never use it anymore because I can do so many nifty things with the free Light version of NoteTab. Here are a few examples:

1) Press Alt+D, U and all text that you copy onto the clipboard pops up in the current NoteTab document. Great for clipping bits and pieces from various web pages. NoteTab works in the background with an audible beep for confirmation, so there is no need for cut and paste or switching back and forth between browser and text editor).

2) Works with Unicode text (great for mixing various languages)

3) Evaluates mathematical expressions. Example: If you type and select "sqrt (25)=" then press Ctrl+E, you get "sqrt (25)=5"

4) You can choose whatever typeface and font size you like (very useful if you are working with a Netbook or you need to set sth up for people with vision issues).

More features here

Download here
posted by juifenasie at 4:38 AM on December 15, 2011

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