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I know that you can run into formatting issues with copying and pasting into AMCAS, but is this the same with secondaries? I'm writing all of my essays in word on a mac, and wondering if I can just copy and paste directly into the box for secondaries or should I be converting to plain text first?

Thanks!
 

tima

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That's fine. I copied my text from Word and pasted it in the secondary applications. Before I submitted, I proofread everything to make sure there were no mistakes.
 

ghostman

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That's fine. I copied my text from Word and pasted it in the secondary applications. Before I submitted, I proofread everything to make sure there were no mistakes.

I think the OP was referring to the formatting issues that can arise that's not completely obvious to the naked eye. For example, Word uses curved quotes (called Smart Quotes) by default. If you typed directly into a web form's textarea, it will uses vertical line quotes instead. It will look just fine in the textarea prior to submitting the form, but the Smart Quotes may not store or render correctly in whatever admissions people use.

You can see this issue if you open Word, type in "Test" (you'll notice curly quotes), then save as Text and choose Windows Default text. Then open this document in Firefox and change the encoding to UTF-8. The quotes become special characters.

It has been quite a while since I've worked with web forms, but I believe that results will depend on (1) whether the script properly parses out these special characters and (2) how the viewer ultimate views these results.
 
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tima

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That makes sense. But, can't you modify the quotation marks once you paste your text on the secondary application? You can delete the wrong quotes, and type the correct one in the browser. The advantage with using Word is that you can save it and easily come back and work on it more, without having to log in everytime.

That's why I read each secondary two times to make sure everything was good, like text, spacing, etc.

I think the OP was referring to the formatting issues that can arise that's not completely obvious to the naked eye. For example, Word uses curved quotes (called Smart Quotes) by default. If you typed directly into a web form's textarea, it will uses vertical line quotes instead. It will look just fine in the textarea prior to submitting the form, but the Smart Quotes may not store or render correctly in whatever admissions people use.

You can see this issue if you open Word, type in "Test" (you'll notice curly quotes), then save as Text and choose Windows Default text. Then open this document in Firefox and change the encoding to UTF-8. The quotes become special characters.

It has been quite a while since I've worked with web forms, but I believe that results will depend on (1) whether the script properly parses out these special characters and (2) how the viewer ultimate views these results.
 

zeppelinpage4

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For AMCAS, I pasted the word document onto notepad, made adjustments if needed, and then pasted into the text box. I am not sure if this works for secondaries, but I'd like to know if this is acceptable.

It seemed to work for my AMCAS essays though.
 

ghostman

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That makes sense. But, can't you modify the quotation marks once you paste your text on the secondary application? You can delete the wrong quotes, and type the correct one in the browser. The advantage with using Word is that you can save it and easily come back and work on it more, without having to log in everytime.

That's why I read each secondary two times to make sure everything was good, like text, spacing, etc.

Indeed, you can delete the wrong quotes and substitute with the right ones. But Word special characters are not limited to quotes. For example, in Word, if you type:

This - is a test.

That "dash" will be changed into an "em dash", which looks the same, but is longer. If you didn't know to change it after you copy/paste into the web form, it could become a funky character.

For the record, I did use Word (then copy/paste into Notepad and fix) for my AMCAS and my secondaries. I think it was fine, for the most part. The only time I think there was a problem was with NYU's application. They insist you type your essays in their web form and not copy/paste from Word, but they had quite a few essays. I didn't listen, thinking I knew what I was talking about and knew about the special characters that needed to be changed. Everything looked good and I submitted.

After submission, it presented me with a copy of what I submitted. My essay was clumped into one giant block of text without paragraphs (I don't think this is the result from different interpretations of Carriage Return/Line Feed. Yes, even hitting Enter on your keyboard to create a new line is represented differently in different systems: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newline). I don't know if typing directly into the forms would have changed the result. I don't recall there being a way to make changes after submission, so I just lived with it. I never did get an interview from them, but I doubt that was the cause. I hope not, at least :eek:
 
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For AMCAS, I pasted the word document onto notepad, made adjustments if needed, and then pasted into the text box. I am not sure if this works for secondaries, but I'd like to know if this is acceptable.

It seemed to work for my AMCAS essays though.

I just figured everyone knew by now to do this. Seriously takes an extra 10 seconds (CTRL+A, CTRL+C, ALT+TAB to notepad, CTRL+V, CTRL+A, click in web form, CTRL+V).
 

tima

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Good advice. This is something applicants should pay attention to.

Indeed, you can delete the wrong quotes and substitute with the right ones. But Word special characters are not limited to quotes. For example, in Word, if you type:

This - is a test.

That "dash" will be changed into an "em dash", which looks the same, but is longer. If you didn't know to change it after you copy/paste into the web form, it could be a become a funky character.

For the record, I did use Word (they copy/paste into Notepad and fix) for my AMCAS and my secondaries. I think it was fine, for the most part. The only time I think there was a problem was with NYU's application. They insist you type your essays in their web form and not copy/paste from Word, but they had quiet a few essays. I didn't listen, thinking I knew what I was talking about and knew about the special characters that needed to be changed. Everything looked good and I submitted.

After submission, it presented me with a copy of what I submitted. My essay was clumped into one giant block of text without paragraphs (I don't think this is the result from different interpretations of Carriage Return/Line Feed. Yes, even hitting Enter on your keyboard to create a new line is represented differently in different systems: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newline). I don't know if typing directly into the forms would have changed the result. I don't recall there being a way to make changes after submission, so I just lived with it. I never did get an interview from them, but I doubt that was the cause. I hope not, at least :eek:
 

ghostman

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I just figured everyone knew by now to do this. Seriously takes an extra 10 seconds (CTRL+A, CTRL+C, ALT+TAB to notepad, CTRL+V, CTRL+A, click in web form, CTRL+V).

This helps, but it won't fix all the issues. Type the following in Word (with the quotes):

"This - is a test."

Then follow your example of selecting all, then pasting in Notepad. Within that same Notepad document, type exactly the same thing you did in Word so that it's right on top of each other.

You'll notice that the pasted long dash (the "em dash") was converted to a regular dash. Or so it looks. You'll also notice Word's Smart Quotes (curly quotes) are preserved! In fact, both the pasted em dash AND the curly quotes are still Windows special characters. To prove it to yourself, save the Notepad file as test.html, open it in Firefox and change the encoding to UTF-8. The one you typed in looks fine, but the one pasted from Word is gibberish.

I actually don't know what's a good, automated way to get rid of all the special characters. Within Word, if you attempted to save it as a plain text, you'll have an option to choose the encoding. If you select ASCII, it will highlight everything in red that WILL NOT translate properly into plain ASCII text. But stupidly, Word won't fix it for you.

As I play around with all this, here's the only thing that has yielded proper conversion to plain ASCII text. This was not a thorough test, so use at your own risk.

1. Type everything in Word.
2. Paste into Wordpad (NOT Notepad).
3. Save as Text Document - MS-DOS Format
4. Close the file. (You must close the file)
5. Open the file again (in Notepad or Wordpad).
6. Copy/Paste to web form.

To verify this works, after step 4, rename the file as test.html. Open up in Firefox. It should display properly in most encodings (similar to if you typed it up manually in Notepad).

Again, no guarantees that this actually works though. I just did a quick 10min test.
 
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