TNG has a lot of places where you can enter text, such as the homepage welcoming paragraph and sidebar features.  You can add stories in the Histories area of media, add sources, notes and more.  You may find obituaries, marriages and other newspaper notices that can be retyped and included inside the TNG content.  Most of us use a full-feature word processor tool for this, such as Microsoft Word.  But, there can be a catch.

Word processor applications are different from text editors.  They have hidden characters, buried inside the body of a document, that instruct Word on how and where to format the body, instructions such as start of paragraph, font, indentation, tabbing, sections, headers and footers and a lot more.  If you just do a copy-and-paste function, you could be inadvertently injecting hidden characters into your TNG site that may have undesirable side effects.

Here is an example screenshot from one of our member’s websites.  Notice the comment on the grandmother, that there is a strange character at the end of the word ( ’ ), where instead you would expect an apostrophe ( ‘ ).

That is a minor problem.  You can just go into TNG and type over the undesired character.  But, it can get worse. 

Here is another example where a table of data was copied from either Word or Excel and pasted into a citation.  Note: all of the special “A” characters that appear where you would expect spaces.

The problem arises when you copy a block of text in a word processor or spreadsheet, and then paste it as-is into your family tree application.  You might, for example, copy-and-paste into Family Tree Maker, or Legacy, or Reunion on your home computer.  And it looks okay there. But later on, you create a GEDCOM file and upload it into TNG, and see funny text showing up in your paragraphs.  GEDCOM brought along those hidden formatting characters that originated in the Word document.

How to get around this potential nuisance?

Go ahead and use your word processor to prepare the text you want for your welcoming paragraphs, histories, sources and so on.  Then, save the document as a text file, one that has a filename ending in .txt.  Open up the text file with a basic text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad, then copy the text.  It will be clear of any of the formatting characters.

You can also type directly into the text boxes within TNG as well.  That might be an easier method.

If you still want some formatting of the text, then TNG will recognize html markup language tags.  Refer to a book or internet help sites for using html for text formatting.

Note: for both examples, the TNG sites have already been fixed.

This article is also available in the tutorial wiki.