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Monday
Jul022012

Blogging from Word

A really good blog editor is hard to find. But if you create your day-to-day documents in Word, why not use that as a blog editor too?

Why use Word?

One reason not to is that if you type a document in Word, then select all the text and copy/paste it into a web page or blog editor, you also insert a whole load of hidden codes which can make formatting difficult and, especially, make it all but impossible to make sense of the text in the HTML section of the blog editor should you wish to make changes there.As you can see, the familiar Word interface is still there.

But if you use Word 2007 or 2010, there is an option to write your blog post in Word and publish it to your blog without going through any extra steps, and without creating lots of superflous code. If you have an older version of Word you can download a free plug-in called Blogging for Word. This is described on an About.com page on word processing, although the link given is now dead; go to this Softronic page instead. I haven't used this, so have no idea what it's like. I can't test it because I have Word 2007 installed.

So why even consider blogging with Word? The main reason I think is that it's a familiar environment. Typing a blog post in Word is not much different from typing up an ordinary document, except for the fact that you have to tell it where to publish the article. That means setting up your blog account within Word, and then, if you have more than one blog, selecting the one you want to post the article to.

To get started, you will need to have a blog account somewhere, as Word has to have somewhere to actually publish your article. That means setting up a blog in Blogger or Wordpress, say, before you do anything else.

Next, you have to set up your blog account within Word. In Word 2007 and, I imagine, Word 2010, you will find the blogging option in the Publish section: click on the Home button, then select Publishà Blog. Then set up your account by clicking on the Manage Accounts icon. If your blog provider isn't listed, you will need to go to your blog provider's support people and find out what information you need. It may be loisted in a Frequently Asked Questions page or a support forum. Your best bet is to do a search for API in the first instance. I did so, and found the information I required straight away.

And then you're ready to roll! Type a blog post, then try inserting stuff by clicking on the Insert tab. For example:

Insert some clip art:

(Which does not necessarily appear, it would seem.)

 

 

Or a table:
     
     

 

 

Or some shapes:

 

(Which also do not necessarily appear. I think I should have saved these images first as JPEGs or something. Seems a bit daft for the default (possibly the only option) to be a non-web-friendly format!)

Once you have written your blog post, you can insert or create categories by clicking on the Insert Category tab.

Then click on Publish or, if you are more cautious, use the drop-down arrow under the Publish button to publish it as a draft.

By the way, this article was written in Word, just in case you hadn't guessed!

So how does Word stack up as a blogging program? I use Windows Live Writer as a rule, so here is my comparison of the two programs from my limited experience so far.

Word vs LiveWriter

Attribute

LiveWriter

Word

Stability

I find it prone to crashing every so often.

Very stable indeed.

Formatting

Very easy, both for text and pictures, eg formatting a picture to make the text flow around its right-hand edge. But there is no format painter, like there is in Word.

The same as in Word. I prefer the picture formatting options in LiveWriter though, as they seem more clear – well, to me anyway. 

Ready-to-go-ness

You can do a lot in LiveWriter, but a lot of the functionality comes from plug-ins, ie small programs you have to find and then install. For example, to count the number of words in a post you have to get a wordcount plug-in.

Everyhting is there at your fingertips, because you have a lot of the usual Word features at your disposal.

Saving

Easy to save as you go along.

Unlike when saving a normal document in Word, clicking on Save does not result in the title of the article appearing in the Save As box. You may find it better to save your post online, by selecting the Publish as Draft option (see above).

Links

Very easy to create links with title text and which open in a new window. One thing I really like is that if you use a particular link a lot, you can save the reference to it as an automatic entry. For example, when I type the words "ICT in education website" LiveWriter automatically converts it to a link to www.ictineducation.org.

When creating a link by selecting some text and pressing Ctrl K, you can insert the title text, ie the text that shows up when you hover your mouse over a link, by clicking on Screentip and typing it there. To open the link in a new window, click on Target Frame and slect the appropriate option. I like the fact that you set that as the default option for links, something you cannot do in LiveWriter..

Tables

I can't remember if the table option is built in or if I installed it as a plug-in. Amending the table is fairly straightforward, but…

… I find Word much easier to use in this respect, no doubt because I'm more used to it.

Extras

One thing I do like in LiveWriter is the ability to use the Zemanta plug-in, which scans your text and suggests further reading articles which may tie in with your theme.

No Zemanta plug-in option as far as I can tell. L No plug-ins to Wikipedia or any other online service either, unlike LiveWriter. And no way to embed video as far as I know.

 

Verdict

Well, as I think you can see, in many respects there's not much difference between the two, so the advantages of using one rather than another will depend, I think, on factors like:

  • Do you work in a corporate or school environment, where it may be impossible to install a non-standard programme like LiveWriter? (Mind you, the blog publishing option in Word may be unavailable.)

 

  • Do you wish to work in a familiar environment where all the shortcuts and menus you are used to are all there?
  • Do you wish to have features in your blog posts like embedded video, or sound snippets. A dedicated blog editing application is likely to be much better for such things.
  • A problem I found when using Word is that you can insert clipart and symbols but they either don't appear or get mangled when you piblish them online. Basically, Word wasn't designed to be a blog editor, which is why these kind of issues appear.

Whatever you choose, I don't think you will be able to get away with not doing some further editing within your draft post online, such as creating a summary or introductory paragraph or adding a caption to pictures.

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