There isn't a direct way of doing this (that I have yet discovered!)
The way I do it for a couple of clients is to export the data to excel, or csv, then manipulate that data into a word file using mail merge, but it involves a bit of applescripting and a fair amount of setup with a merge file for the headers etc...
There are web utilities that can create word docs out of PDFs, which might be worth looking at if it's just a one-off.
Outputting as plain text is certainly possible - instead of using the Print command, Export the data (File / Export Records) and experiment with the Tab Separated or CSV or Excel versions to see which would best suit.
I started poking around some more (or should we call it flailing around?) and realized that since the Merge Fields that are creating unpredictable results, what if I make an enormous calculation with all the elements of the Layout with styles etc. Then the question is can one set that field to highlight on entry and copy then paste that into a Word document with all fields "richly" styled? The answer appears to be YES!
I will test this and see if it indeed works fully the way I need it to.
Yes, that's a good way of doing it. It's often used to compile HTML formatted pages that can then be exported to a browser. If you're on a mac, you can write a little applescript which will do the copy and paste for you into Word as well, if you're feeling adventurous!
Good luck with it, and let me know if you get stuck
And this is the "correct" answer?
Yes, for me it was.
As I said originally Filemaker can make PDFs okay but one must use them as is. You can't copy usable text somehow.
If you want a text editable file, then by rebuilding the same merge fields (without the << >>, of course) in a calculation field, one can highlight that and paste it into a Word file and my customer can edit that.
One needs lots of Paragraph markers and linking it altogether with "&", ampersands.
The parts I did not find (yet) were:
1. A way to center/right-justify text. One can bold, remove bold, reset typesize etc. but I cannot find alignment. But there wasn't so many of these cases.
2. Also I had 2 tables that I did not yet find an easy way to drop in. One was just built on the original layout using various static fields and the other was in a portal that could slide up depending on items above. My short-term workaround was to open the PDF in Photoshop and save those as art files and insert them into the Word file.
Not elegant yet but fast turnaround is key for my customer and I right now!