Stripping Formatting in WordPerfect and Word

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A reader recently submitted a question about formatting that is worthy of posting:

Any advice on stripping the formatting in a WordPerfect document, Beverly, to start over? (I’m into it to the tune of +500 MB, and suddenly it’s forgetting things it was doing for me, at the start.)

If you have a suggestion, I’m all ears. Thanks!

Plain Text is Your New Best Friend

The easiest solution is to use paste as plain text. Follow these steps:

  1. Make a copy of your original document by navigating to the folder where the document resides, selecting it with your mouse, right-clicking, choosing copy, then pasting to the same folder. Call it “document name” COPY 2022 01 08. This clearly identifies it as a copy of your original made on this date. “Document name” is whatever you called the file in the first place. Yes, I know there are time and date stamps, but they are fluid and will change when a document is edited. Let’s just give it today’s date. Also, I realize it is possible to open the document and do a File > Save As; however, since the document may be corrupting the less we open it the better.
  2. Close the copy and leave it be for now. Your backup routine should capture the original and the copy. If not, ensure that it does before proceeding.
  3. Open the original document.  Choose Edit > Select All, then Edit > Copy.
  4. Open a NEW document, choose Edit > Paste Unformatted Text. 
  5. Save the NEW document. Perhaps “document name” PLAIN TXT 2022 01 08.
  6. Backup the NEW document.
  7. Consider splitting the NEW document into two – see my cautionary words below.
  8. Keep the original for now – just in case. You can discard the copy if you are confident you’ve created a new plain text version that works for you.

Why It Works

The maneuver of pasting as plain text strips all formatting.  It works the same way in Microsoft Word and is handy when you want to copy and paste text from a web page, but don’t want a weird font or other website formatting. 

Tips

  • To be safe, choose Edit > Paste Unformatted Text from the *menu* drop-down or enter CTRL ALT V. The more familiar CTRL V will merge formatting, which is not what we want.
  • Use Edit > Select All, then Edit > Copy *not* Select All > Cut. If anything goes wrong this will give you more than one chance to paste the text into a new document. For Word users, paste plain text by selecting Paste > Keep Text Only.

Cautionary Words about File Size

Best practice is to assume that WordPerfect files have a finite size and may corrupt when the file becomes too large. Therefore, it may be wise to split up a document of this size.

Really? WordPerfect Files Have a Maximum Size?

Some say yes. Some say no, including the WP Universe users forum.  Some acknowledge that file corruption exists, but place the blame on other culprits – the user’s operating system, limited hard drive space, lack of RAM, etc.

Experience tells me that corruption does occur. In the old days, it happened most frequently when users converted documents from WordPerfect 5.1 to Microsoft Word. However, I’ve also observed corruption which appeared to be based solely on document size.

You be the judge. My risk management background tells me to err on the side of caution.

What if I’m a Word User?

Microsoft Word acknowledges a finite file size of 512 MB.

eCourt Reminder

And of course, if a document the size of the one described should ever become part of a court proceeding it would have to be split under eCourt filing rules.

Happy New Year!

All Rights Reserved 2022 Beverly Michaelis

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