How to Convert a Word Document to HTML

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The structure of web pages is provided by HTML (hypertext markup language). While there are a number of fancy and powerful software packages and content management systems that can be used to author HTML, the reality is that these files are just text documents. You can use a simple text editor like Notepad or TextEdit to create or edit those documents.

When most people think about text editors, they think of Microsoft Word. Inevitably, they then wonder if they can use Word to create HTML documents and web pages. The short answer is "yes, you can use Word to write HTML." That does not mean that you should use this program for HTML, however. Let's take a look at how you would use Word in this fashion and why it is not the best course of action.

Start With Word Itself to Save Documents as HTML

When you're trying to convert Word DOC files to HTML, the first place you should start is Microsoft Word itself. Ultimately, Word is not an ideal program for authoring HTML documents and creating web pages from scratch. It does not include any of the helpful features or coding environment that you would find with an actual HTML editor program. Even a free tool like Notepad++ offers some of the HTML-centric features that make author website pages so much easier than trying to struggle through that task with Word.

Still, if you just need to convert one or two documents quickly, and you already have Word installed, then using that program may be the path you wish to travel. To do this you should open the document in Word and then choose "Save as HTML" or "Save as Web Page" from the File menu.

Will this work? For the most part, but again — it is not recommended. Word is a word processing program that creates documents for print. As such, when you attempt to force it to act as a web page editor, it adds a lot of strange styles and tags to your HTML. These tags will have an impact on how cleanly coded your site is, how it works for mobile devices, and how quickly it downloads. Yes, you can use the program convert pages when you need them up on a website quickly, but it is likely not the best long-term solution for your online publishing needs.

Another option to consider when using just Word for a document you want to publish online is to leave the DOC file alone. You can upload your DOC file and then set up a download link for your readers to download the file.

Your Web Editor May Be Able to Convert DOC Files to HTML

More and more web editors are adding the ability to convert Word documents into HTML because so many people would like to be able to do this. Dreamweaver can convert DOC files to HTML in just a few steps. Additionally, Dreamweaver actually removes a lot of the strange styles that Word generated HTML will add.

The problem with using a web editor to convert your documents is that the pages don't usually look like the Word document. They look like a web page. This might not be a problem if that is your end goal, but if it is a problem for you, then the next tip should help.

Convert the Word Document to a PDF

Instead of converting the DOC file to HTML, convert it to PDF. PDF files look exactly like your Word document but they will be displayed inline by a web browser. This can be the best of both worlds for you. You get a document that is delivered online and viewable in the browser (instead of requiring a download like an actual .doc or .docx file), yet it still looks like the page you created in Word.

The downside to taking the PDF route is that, to search engines, it is basically a flat file. Those engines will not scour the page for content in order to rank it effectively for keywords and phrases that your potential site visitors may be looking for. That may or not be an issue for you, but if you simply want a document you created in Word added to a website, a PDF file is a good option to consider.