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WHY BOTHER WITH THIS?

Microsoft Word buries tons of crap in its document files. These invisible landmines can cause files to fail Smashwords’s AutoVetter and MeatGrinder.

The nuclear method is a drastic, extremely destructive process that strips away old, bad code. Nuking takes time and patience, but might just be the only way to salvage code-bloated files.

HOW DOES NUKING WORK?

The nuke itself is a simple three-step process:

1) Copy the entire Microsoft Word file.

2) Paste the file into a plain text editor.

3) Copy the plain text version back into a fresh Microsoft Word document.

The oh-so-dramatic “Nuclear Method” name comes from the devastating toll this process takes on a document’s coding. Precious few ones and zeroes survive the trip into the plain text editor. Text characters (letters, numbers, basic symbols and punctuation), spaces, paragraph returns and list tags are the only survivors. Absolutely everything else is lost in the blast, including images, hyperlinks, footnotes, tables, text-boxes, table-of-contents links and colored and special fonts.

Right now, authors might be picturing a baby sailing out the window on a wave of its own bathwater, and that visual is sadly accurate; Much of the good is lost with the bad. Worse, an immense amount of work is required to return a file to its Style-Guide-compliant, reader-friendly state.

That’s where this guide comes in: The author has nuked hundreds of files, and over time developed an efficient system to streamline prep and restoration work. This guide outlines the process, step by step.

WHAT TOOLS ARE NEEDED?

The nuking process requires:

1) Microsoft Word, any version

2) A plain text editor (see below)

Plain text editor for Windows users: Notepad (not Wordpad). Notepad can be found in Start/All Programs/Accessories on most Windows systems. Do not use Wordpad. It will not annihilate all of Word’s hidden junk.

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