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Practical Computer Advice
from Martin Kadansky

Volume 8 Issue 6
June 2014
Microsoft Word: Problems with Paste? Try Paste Special!

The problem: Copy and Paste into a Word document doesn't do what you expected
Have these Copy-and-Paste problems ever happened to you?
  • You're working on a Microsoft Word file. You select and Copy some of its text, open a second Word file (which already contains some text), and Paste in the text from the first document. You then realize that the newly pasted text is in a different font or size or color than the rest of the second document, and you wish that your Paste had simply inserted the text using the font that's already present in the second document instead of bringing over the formatting from the first document.
  • You're looking at a web site in your web browser, and perhaps because you want to save it to your computer, you select some (or all) of it, Copy to the clipboard, and Paste into a Word file. You then find that your Word document has become a complicated mess, or that Word has hung or crashed.
In general, the Paste command tries to make the right choice, but that sometimes causes problems.

The Solution: Paste Special
You're in luck! Microsoft Word has an alternative to the standard Paste command that lets you Paste while exercising more control over the result. It's called "Paste Special." Here's how to use it:

Step 1: In whatever program you're using, select the text you want to copy.

Step 2: Copy your selection to the Clipboard.

Step 3: Go to your Microsoft Word document.

Step 4: Place the insertion point (blinking vertical line) at the appropriate location in your document.

Step 5: Invoke the Paste Special command:
  • In Word 2004 or earlier, pull down the Edit menu and click Paste Special.
  • In Word 2007 or later: On the "Home" tab in the Ribbon, click the little triangle under "Paste," then click "Paste Special" in the menu that appears.
Step 6: In the Paste Special dialog that appears, select the "Unformatted Text" option.

Step 7: Then click OK.
Word will insert the text into your document without any of the formatting from its original source.

Additional things you should know about Paste Special
Here are some of the finer points:
  • If you've Copied text from a source that also includes pictures or photos or other drawing objects, Paste Special will only insert the text into your Word document and omit the other objects.
  • If you've Copied text from a document that uses tables, automatic numbering, footnotes, or other complicated formatting, or if you're pasting into a complex Word file, Paste Special will probably either convert the more complicated source elements to simpler ones or omit them entirely. Be careful to save (and perhaps also back up) your Word document before using Paste Special.
Where to go from here
How to contact me:
email: martin@kadansky.com
phone: (617) 484-6657
web: http://www.kadansky.com

On a regular basis I write about real issues faced by typical computer users. To subscribe to this newsletter, please send an email to martin@kadansky.com and I'll add you to the list, or visit http://www.kadansky.com/newsletter

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Copyright (C) 2014 Kadansky Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved.

I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.

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