POWER USER

Magician's tips pull the tricks out of Word

John McCormick

How often have you resorted to opening two small windows to copy data between a form or a Web page and a desktop application?

I've found a few ways around that.

You can often copy something from a Web page into Microsoft Word 2000 via the highlight and Ctrl C, Ctrl V copy-and-paste maneuver. But obvious or hidden tables show up as line boxes. You can't just highlight the parts you want and copy them elsewhere. They have to be in plain text before you can do much with them.

The easiest workaround is to save the file in .txt format, then reopen the file, which eliminates most of the coding. It's the fastest way to get rid of the hyperlinks Word annoyingly inserts.

A more tedious option is to right-click on each and every hyperlink to remove it.

For no reason I could see, halfway through this column Word 2000 decided to insert a blank line'not a carriage return'between paragraphs.

There's probably a way to eliminate the extra lines if I drill down far enough in the help menu. But it takes only about five seconds to save the file as .txt, close it, then reload it into Word with the unwanted formatting gone.

What if you need to retain certain formatting, such as uniform resource locators? Going from .doc or .rtf to .txt and reimporting would lose them. To eliminate just the lines from Web tables, highlight the table block. Then click on the Table menu, click on Convert and see whether a choice called Table to Text appears. If it does, you can convert to text without removing other special coding.

Although Adobe Portable Document Format is important for read-only documents posted, say, on the Web, too many people use it to publish plain old text.

Fortunately, there are several e-mail services that convert PDF documents to a more accessible format. They are intended for disabled users' screen-reading software, but there's no restriction on their use by others.

If the PDF code is on the Internet, e-mail the URL in the otherwise blank body of an e-mail message to one of the addresses below. If the PDF file is local, e-mail it as a Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions attachment. The converted PDF document comes back to you as a MIME attachment.

Send to pdf2txt@adobe.com for conversion to plain text or to pdf2html@adobe.com for Hypertext Markup Language. You can submit multiple URLs in a single e-mail.

The Trace Research Center at trace.wisc.edu, a clearinghouse for technology for the disabled, also hosts a PDF conversion service that works the same way. Send a file to pdf2txt@sun.trace.wisc.edu for plain text conversion or to pdf2html@sun.trace.wisc.edu for HTML.

You can reverse course and translate a document or file into PDF. Visit www.economicsbulletin.uiuc.edu/PDF.asp for TeX conversion and www.this.net/~frank/pstill.html for PStill, an Adobe PostScript-to-PDF conversion utility.

John McCormick is a free-lance writer and computer consultant. E-mail him at poweruser@mail.usa.com.

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