If you use both Word and a learning management system (such as Moodle or Blackboard), you know the frustration of seeing all those nasty span tags that appear when you just want the text!

While I can’t make the process seamless, I do have a recommended fix or two.

  1. Thanks to many people who have suggested first pasting the text into a simple RTF program (such as TextEdit on the Mac OS).  For many situations, that works quite well.  But not always.
  2. So, I’ve kept my eyes open and found a product via LifeHackerCleanHaven.  CleanHaven is a free, cross platform program able to perform a wide variety of smart clean up and manipulations operations on both text and columnar data (such as found in spreadsheet programs like Excel).  It is far more powerful than the first trick and can be applied to many different situations (like removing the numbers from a mixed column of numbers and words in Excel before you import the file to SPSS!)

If you cut and paste between applications, or download data from databases, sooner or later you will need to do some fairly sophisticated data clean up on large amounts of text.  When you do, try these two tips … and let me know how your mileage is!