People who come from the print publishing world (Word, InDesign, etc) after often very frustrated with HTML formatting. This is because HTML works very differently from print publishing. When you’re working on a web page you are not actually making the document like you would in Word. In web publishing what you do is give the general description of the content of the document, your browsing software (ie, firefox, etc) determines what the web page looks like.
This breakup of content and rendering is by design and is to ensure the content can be understandably rendered on as many different kinds of systems as possible. For example, if someone is blind their version of your webpage isn’t going to look like anything at all. Their browser software will analyze the HTML in your page and try to convert it to spoken words.
The Joomla editor is particularly quirky. It works by presenting you a Word-like editor, it interprets you input into HTML, then that HTML is re-interpreted by the web browser. It’s web publishing via the Telephone game.
Here is my suggested workflow for web publishing with minimal stress:
- Write the text in a word processor (like MS Word or OpenOffice Writer) so you can do a spelling and grammar check but do not waste any time on formatting.
- Copy & Paste into a text editor like notepad (or PSPad, or TextWrangler) and do the HTML markup manually. This sounds daunting but it is really not hard. You don’t need to learn all of HTML if you just knew how to put in makers for paragraphs, bold & italic text, unordered lists, ordered lists and headings you can make a well structured document.
- Switch the Joomla editor to HTML mode and paste the code into it.
- Switch the Joomla editor back into ‘normal’ mode for doing the more complex stuff like images, hyperlinks, and attaching pdfs.