Is it Possible to Use Microsoft Word or Office to Create a Website? If So, How?

How to Create a Website Using Microsoft Word / Office


Is it Possible to Use Microsoft Word or Office to Create a Website? If So, How?

by Christopher Heng, thesitewizard.com

I was recently asked by one of my visitors whether it was possible to use Microsoft Word (or Microsoft Office) to create a website. This article answers that question and also provides some practical information on how to create basic web pages with Word/Office.

Can You Use a Wordprocessor to Create a Web Page?

The answer to that question is basically the same as what you get when you ask "is it possible to use a pair of pliers to remove a screw?".

That is to say, of course you can, but it's not really the best tool for the job. Just as a screwdriver can remove the screw more efficiently and easily, likewise a specialized program like a web editor can make the creation of your website much easier than using a wordprocessor. In fact, there are things that you may want to do with your website that is not easily accomplished, and perhaps not even possible to achieve, using Microsoft Word or any of the free wordprocessors.

Different Mediums

Wordprocessors are primarily meant for creating documents that will ultimately be printed out. As such, their features are optimized for that purpose. They have the ability to set the margin on your pages in inches or centimetres ("centimeters" in US English), the ability to set your page to either the A4 size or some other standard paper size, and so on.

Web pages are a completely different medium. They exist to be read on the screen and not on paper. Inches and centimetres are not really useful for use on a monitor; here, pixels reign. There is also no universal fixed monitor size, and even if there were, users can freely resize their browser windows to whatever sizes they want. More importantly, websites have interactive features, such as menu buttons that change colour when the mouse hovers over it, or forms that can be submitted, layout and content that can change when certain actions are taken, etc.

If you were to design your web page using a wordprocessor, you will be unnecessarily restricting yourself to the subset of features that printed pages have in common with web pages.

But it's not impossible. If you're adamant about using Word to create a web page, carry on reading the rest of this article. On the other hand, if you don't mind using a web editor, the following articles will give you a head start. Information about how to get the relevant web editors can be found in those articles.

What You Can Do with a WordProcessor

Microsoft Word has rudimentary facilities to make it slightly easier for you to put an existing document onto your website.

  1. It can convert your document into a web page so that it can be displayed like a normal web page in a browser.

  2. You can create links that point to other websites or other pages on your own website. This can be done either automatically by Word when you type a web address (like "http://www.example.com/") or manually.

My guess is that the facilities are primarily meant for people with existing documents which they want to place on the Internet, and not really meant for someone who wants to create and maintain an entire website from scratch.

What You Lose When You Use a WordProcessor to Create/Maintain a Website

So that you don't have an unrealistic expectation of what you can accomplish using Word for your website, let me mention some of the things you will lose out. Note that this doesn't mean that you can't use Word. You just won't be able to use those facilities.

  1. You will lose the ability to embed code supplied by other websites into your web page. Some sites, including thesitewizard.com, provide special facilities which you can add to your website to extend it in some way. Such facilities are often provided in the form of code known as either HTML code, CSS code, JavaScript or some other thing. For example, there are numerous free web statistics services that you can use so that you can find out how many visitors are using your website and so on. Such services typically require you to insert some type of code into your web page. It doesn't seem to be possible to insert such code using Word.

  2. Consequently, you will also lose the ability to create interactive features such as a putting a feedback / contact form on your site, inserting navigation menu buttons that work like what you see in the left hand column of thesitewizard.com, and so on.

  3. You will not be able to easily publish your document to your website from within your wordprocessor. While Office 2007 (and perhaps 2010 too) appears to have some ability to integrate with some blog providers, it doesn't seem to have an integrated facility to publish ordinary web pages via FTP. For those wondering what "FTP" is, in layman's language, it's basically the method used to transfer web pages from your computer to the Internet. But don't worry. It's still possible to publish your document. You'll just have to use a separate program, called an FTP client, to do it.

  4. Word also does not provide an easy way for you to update and change the design of all the pages on your website should you decide to change it in the future. If you have many pages on your website, and you decide that you want to change the design, you will have to manually change them on every page yourself.

    To be fair though, only commercial web editors like Dreamweaver have this facility. At the time I write this, the free KompoZer web editor does not do this either. But it's a handy feature, especially if you have many pages on your site.

How to Create a Web Page Using Word 2003 and Word 2007 / 2010

To create a web page using Microsoft Word, just type your document as you normally would. (Sorry, this is not a Word tutorial, so I'm not going to teach you how to type a document. I'm assuming that if you are asking this question, you already know how to use Word, and just want to know if you can use it to make a web page.)

To create links to other web pages, do the following. If you use Word 2003, just skip to the Word 2003 section. If you use Word 2007 or 2010, just read that section. The 2 sections are written to be independent of each other.

How to Save Your Document as an HTML File in Office 2003, Office 2007 and Office 2010

Apart from inserting hyperlinks, the other thing you'll need to know is how to convert the document from its default ".doc" or ".docx" file format to an HTML file. To do this, if you are using Word 2003 or 2010, click the "File" menu. If you are using Word 2007, click the nameless round button at the top left of the Word window. Then, whether you're using Word 2003, 2007 or 2010, click the "Save As" item in the menu that appears.

Once the "Save As" dialog box appears, type the name of the file you want to save as in the "File name" box. For example, if you are making the main page of your website, you should call the page "index" (without the quotes). Then click the "Save as type" drop down box to expand it.

There are two possible options that you can use to create HTML files (ie, web page files). Select either the "Web Page (*.htm; *.html)" option or the "Web Page, Filtered (*.htm; *.html)" option.

The "Web Page, Filtered" option creates smaller and more standard web pages that contain only the formatting code understood by web browsers and search engines. The "Web Page" option creates HTML pages with additional hidden Word formatting code. This additional code is (hopefully) ignored by web browsers and search engines, but is used interally by Word when you open that same file again to edit it. If the additional code is not present, when you reopen the file in Word, you may not be able to use some of Word's features on your document in the usual way. (For example, some facilities may be disabled.)

In view of this, unless you know what you're doing, you probably should save it as "Web Page". Your page will not be considered as 100% valid HTML, but then, since you're using a wordprocessor to create the page, it probably isn't going to be 100% valid anyway, whether or not you use the "Filtered" option. (It will probably also be more bloated than it needs to be.)

Once you've selected either the "Web Page" or "Web Page, Filtered" options, the dialog box will change, and a new "Change Title..." button will appear. Click it. A dialog box, called "Set Page Title", will appear.

This page title is the title of your web page that you see in the search engine listings of your website. It also appears in the top menu bar of the browser window when you view your web page in a web browser. It is not displayed in your document, but is an important part of a web page.

Type an appropriate title for your web page here and click the "OK" button.

Next, if you use Word 2007 or 2010, click the "Tools" button at the bottom of the dialog box, and select "Web Options". In the "Target Browsers" drop down box, select the "Microsoft ® Internet Explorer ® 6 or later" line, and click the "OK" button. (It's probably already selected by default in Word 2010, but you may want to still want to check to make sure, just in case.)

Before you proceed, notice that Word has changed your filename to add ".htm" to the end of it. For example, if you typed "index", the file will now be called "index.htm". Change it so that the ending is ".html" instead of ".htm". That is, if Word has changed it to "index.htm", modify it so that it is now called "index.html".

Finally, click the "Save" button in the "Save As" dialog box.

Word saves your file along with an additional folder containing any embedded pictures you have in your document as well as some other data. You will have to publish both your file and this additional folder (and its contents) to your website.

How to Publish Your Web Page

Since Word doesn't have a built-in facility to publish your web page, you will have to use a separate program to do this. As mentioned earlier, such a program is called an FTP client. Please see the article How to Upload a File to Your Website Using the FileZilla FTP Client for a step-by-step guide on how to use one such FTP client, Filezilla (which is free), to publish your web page and its associated folder.

Note: this assumes that you have already signed up for a web host and all the other things associated with website publishing. This guide doesn't deal with those aspects. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or have not done any of those things, please read How to Make/Create Your Own Website: The Beginner's A-Z Guide. Otherwise, when you read the Filezilla tutorial, you'll wonder what I'm talking about when I mention "web host".

Conclusion

Publishing a website using Word or Office isn't really ideal. You have to make do with a lot of limitations. However, in a pinch, it is possible to create a rudimentary web page if you need to.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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