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Word Paste Options Explained

In most of Office, the paste options seem very straight forward. You’ve probably seen that little Paste Options box pop up when you do a copy/paste of Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V. In word you have three options.
  • Keep Source Formatting
  • Merge Formatting
  • Keep Text Only

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The first option makes plenty of sense to me, the other two behave in ways that may belie their names. Here’s what they really do.

We’ll start with this text.

 

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Keep Source Formatting will keep the original formatting of your copied text and change the target text if you paste inside the paragraph.

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Merge Formatting keeps some of the copied text’s formatting, but doesn’t change the original, target. Microsoft says (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/paste-options-HA101831692.aspx) that it changes the formatting so that it matches the text that surrounds it. Well, kinda. Here is the results of my test

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Keep Text Only is the one I use the most. It actually does what merge formatting seems to describe. The copied text will lose all its original formatting and adopt the formatting of the target text. It’s the one I use the most because I’m usually copying text from a document whose formatting served that document’s purpose, but not the one I’m now creating.

 

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2 Comments
  1. Melissa, thanks for explaining this, I have always wondered and usually just played with the one that looked the best. I wondered if there is a way to make a custom “ctrl-v” short cut for a specific paste option? I have played around a little bit with this to no avail and when I read your blog, I thought I would ask you! Thanks in advance for any feedback. Take care,

    Michelle Carrington
    Franciscan-St. Francis Heart Center
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    (317) 528-2800

    • Hi Michelle!
      I’m glad you asked. No, really, because I didn’t know if there was and now I do! In File>Options>Advanced, you’ll find a section entitled Cut, copy, and paste. Here you can decide what the default is. I tested it with Ctrl+V for Text Only and it works!

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