Control the formatting when you paste text

When you cut or copy text and then paste it into your document, do you want the text to look the way it did in its original location, or do you want it to adopt the look of the surrounding text where it is pasted? Sometimes you may want one option, but in another situation you may want the other.

For example, if you insert a quotation from a Web page into your document, you may want the quotation to appear in the same font as it is on the Web page. On the other hand, if you copy text from one of your own documents to another, you may prefer that the copied text look like the rest of the text in the document where you paste it.

In Word, you can choose either of these options each time that you paste text. If you commonly want one of the options, you can set it as the default for pasted text.

What do you want to do?


Preserve the look of the original text

The text that you move or copy can have a font or other kind of formatting applied to it, such as bold or italic, that differs from the document where you are pasting the text. For example, you can move or copy text that is bold, 10-point Times New Roman, and paste it next to text that is regular, 11-point Calibri. If you want the pasted text to be in Times New Roman instead of Calibri, you can preserve its look.

  1. Select the text that you want to move or copy, and then press CTRL+X to move the text, or press CTRL+C to copy the text.
  2. Click where you want to paste the text, and then press CTRL+V.
  3. Click Paste Options Button image, which appears after you paste the text.

ShowI don't see a Paste Options button when I paste text.

If you don't see a Paste Options button when you paste text, turn on the option for displaying it.

  1. Press CTRL+Z to undo the paste.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste section.
  2. Select the Show Paste Options buttons check box.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Press CTRL+V to paste the text.

  1. Click Keep Source Formatting.

 Note   If you paste items from a bulleted or numbered list into a document that contains a bulleted or numbered list, you might not see Keep Source Formatting when you click the Paste Options button. For more information on pasting lists, see Paste items from a bulleted or numbered list in this article.

ShowI followed these steps, but the formatting does not match the original.

If you paste a portion of a paragraph from another Word document and styles such as Normal, Heading 1, and so on are defined differently in both documents, the Paste Options button can display Keep Source Formatting as selected, yet the pasted text does not look like the text in the original document. This is because the format of the text in the original document is governed by its paragraph style. If you want to preserve its original formatting, do the following:

  1. When you cut or copy the original text, be sure to include the paragraph mark (¶).

 Note   To display the paragraph mark, click Show/Hide ¶ in the Paragraph group on the Home tab.

Word Ribbon

  1. Paste the text.
  2. Click Paste Options Button image, and then click Keep Source Formatting.
  3. Delete any unwanted text that precedes the end of the paragraph.

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Change formatting to match the look of the surrounding text

The text that you move or copy can have a font or other kind of formatting applied to it (such as bold or italic) that differs from the document where you are pasting the text. For example, you can move or copy text that is bold, 10-point Times New Roman, and paste it next to text that is regular, 11-point Calibri. If you want the pasted text to be in Calibri to match the surrounding text, you can do so.

  1. Select the text that you want to move or copy, and then press CTRL+X to move the text, or press CTRL+C to copy the text.
  2. Click where you want to paste the text, and then press CTRL+V.
  3. Click Paste Options Button image, which appears after you paste the text.

ShowI don't see a Paste Options button when I paste text.

If you don't see a Paste Options button when you paste text, turn on the option for displaying it.

  1. Press CTRL+Z to undo the paste.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste section.
  2. Select the Show Paste Options buttons check box.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Press CTRL+V to paste the text.

  1. Do one of the following:
  • If the text that you are pasting includes portions of formatting that you want to preserve, such as bold or italicized words, click Match Destination Formatting.
  • If you want to remove all of the original formatting from the text that you are pasting, click Keep Text Only.

 Notes 

  • If your selection includes content that is not text, the Keep Text Only option discards the content or converts it to text. For example, if you use the Keep Text Only option when you paste content that includes pictures and a table, the pictures are omitted from the pasted content, and the table is converted to a series of paragraphs.
  • If your selection includes a bulleted or numbered list, the Keep Text Only option may discard the bullets or numbering, depending on the default setting for pasting text in Word.

To preserve the bullet and number characters, you can convert the bulleted or numbered list formatting to paragraphs that begin with bullet or number characters.

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste section.
  2. Select the Keep bullets and numbers when pasting text with Keep Text Only option check box.

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Paste items from a bulleted or numbered list

If you paste items from a bulleted or numbered list into a document that contains a bulleted or numbered list, you can paste the items as part of an existing list and continue the numbering sequence. Or you can paste the items as a new list.

Paste numbered items so that they continue a numbering sequence

  1. Select the list items that you want to move or copy, and then press CTRL+X to move the items, or press CTRL+C to copy the items.
  2. Click where you want to paste the items, and then press CTRL+V.
  3. Click Paste Options Button image, which appears after you paste the text.

ShowI don't see a Paste Options button when I paste text.

If you don't see a Paste Options button when you paste text, turn on the option for displaying it.

  1. Press CTRL+Z to undo the paste.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste section.
  2. Select the Show Paste Options buttons check box.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Press CTRL+V to paste the text.

  1. Click Merge With Existing List.

Paste numbered items so that they retain their own numbering sequence

  1. Select the list items that you want to move or copy, and then press CTRL+X to move the items, or press CTRL+C to copy the items.
  2. Click where you want to paste the items, and then press CTRL+V.
  3. Click Paste Options Button image, which appears after you paste the text.

ShowI don't see a Paste Options button when I paste text.

If you don't see a Paste Options button when you paste text, turn on the option for displaying it.

  1. Press CTRL+Z to undo the paste.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste section.
  2. Select the Show Paste Options buttons check box.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Press CTRL+V to paste the text.

  1. Click Paste as a New List or Paste List Without Merging.

ShowI want to paste numbered items in a numbered list so that the items I paste are numbered separately from the surrounding list.

For example, if you want the items that you paste to be numbered 1-3, as subitems of number 2 in an existing list, do the following:

  1. Click in front of the item or paragraph that follows item 2, and then press CTRL+V.
  2. Click Paste Options Button image, and then click Paste List Without Merging.

 Note   If you are pasting from one list to another in the same document and you use the Paste List Without Merging command, you may need to restart the numbering of one of your lists. To restart numbering, right-click the item that you want to be first, and then click Restart at 1 on the shortcut menu.

  1. Select the numbered items that you pasted, and then, in the Paragraph group on the Home tab, click Increase Indent.

Word Ribbon


Paste bulleted items into a numbered list

  1. Select the list items that you want to move or copy, and then press CTRL+X to move the items, or press CTRL+C to copy the items.
  2. Click where you want to paste the items, and then press CTRL+V.
  3. Click Paste Options Button image, which appears after you paste the text.

ShowI don't see a Paste Options button when I paste text.

If you don't see a Paste Options button when you paste text, turn on the option for displaying it.

  1. Press CTRL+Z to undo the paste.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste section.
  2. Select the Show Paste Options buttons check box.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Press CTRL+V to paste the text.

  1. If you want the bulleted items to be converted to numbered items in the list, click Merge With Existing List. If you want the bulleted items to be a bulleted list within the numbered list, click Paste List Without Merging.

ShowI want to paste bulleted items so that they create a bulleted list as part of an item in a numbered list.

For example, if you want the items that you paste to be bulleted subitems of number 2 in an existing list, do the following:

  1. Select the list items that you want to paste as subitems in your numbered list, and then press CTRL+X to move the items, or press CTRL+C to copy the items.
  2. Click in front of the item or paragraph that follows item 2, and then press CTRL+V.
  3. Click Paste Options Button image, and then click Paste List Without Merging.
  4. If you need to indent the bulleted items that you pasted, select the items, and then in the Paragraph group on the Home tab, click Increase Indent.

Word Ribbon


Paste numbered items into a bulleted list

  1. Select the list items that you want to move or copy, and then press CTRL+X to move the items, or press CTRL+C to copy the items.
  2. Click where you want to paste the items, and then press CTRL+V.
  3. Click Paste Options Button image, which appears after you paste the text.

ShowI don't see a Paste Options button when I paste text.

If you don't see a Paste Options button when you paste text, turn on the option for displaying it.

  1. Press CTRL+Z to undo the paste.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste section.
  2. Select the Show Paste Options buttons check box.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Press CTRL+V to paste the text.

  1. If you want the numbered items to be converted to bulleted items in the list, click Merge With Existing List. If you want the numbered items to be a numbered list within the bulleted list, click Paste List Without Merging.

ShowI want to paste numbered items in a bulleted list so that they create a numbered list as part of an item in that bulleted list.

For example, if you want the items that you paste to be numbered 1-3, as subitems of a bulleted item in an existing list, do the following:

  1. Position the cursor in front of the item or paragraph that follows the item where you want to create the new numbered list, and then press CTRL+V.
  2. Click Paste Options Button image, and then click Paste List Without Merging.
  3. Right-click the item that you want to be first in the new list, and then click Restart at 1 on the shortcut menu.
  4. Select the numbered items that you pasted, and then, in the Paragraph group of the Home tab, click Increase Indent.

Word Ribbon


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Set Word defaults for pasting text

If you commonly use one paste option, you can configure Word so that it automatically uses that paste option. That way, you don't need to specify which option to use every time that you paste text. You can override the default behavior whenever you paste text by choosing a different option on the Paste Options menu.

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
  1. Click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste section.
  2. Select the settings that you want with the following boxes.
    • Pasting within the same document
    • Pasting between documents
    • Pasting between documents when style definitions conflict
    • Pasting from other programs

For more information about these options, see the Options for pasting within and between documents, and from other programs of this article.

  1. To use settings for the smart cut-and-paste option, select the Use smart cut and paste check box, click Settings, and then select the settings that you want. For more information, see the Settings for the smart cut-and-paste option section of this article.
  2. Click OK.

Options for pasting within and between documents, and from other programs

Because formatting can be stored in the style definitions of paragraphs, you can fine-tune the way Word pastes text from various sources.

Pasting within the same document

When you paste content into the same document from which you copied the content, you can specify the following default behavior.

  • Keep Source Formatting (Default)     This option retains character styles and direct formatting that were applied to the copied text. Direct formatting includes characteristics such as font size, italics, or other formatting that is not included in the paragraph style.
  • Match Destination Formatting    This option discards most of the formatting that was applied directly to the copied text, but it retains formatting that is considered emphasis, such as bold and italic, when it is applied to only a portion of the selection. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted. The text also takes on any direct formatting or character style properties of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted.
  • Keep Text Only    This option discards all formatting and nontext elements such as pictures or tables. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted and takes on any direct formatting or character style properties of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted. Graphical elements are discarded, and tables are converted to a series of paragraphs.

Pasting between documents

When you paste content that was copied from another document in Word, you can specify the following default behavior.

  • Keep Source Formatting (Default)    This option retains formatting that was applied to the copied text. Any style definition that is associated with the copied text is copied to the destination document.
  • Match Destination Formatting    This option discards most formatting that was applied directly to the copied text, but it retains formatting that is considered emphasis, such as bold and italic, when it is applied to only a portion of the selection. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted. The text also takes on any direct formatting or character style properties of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted.
  • Keep Text Only    This option discards all formatting and nontext elements such as pictures or tables. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted and takes on any direct formatting or character style properties of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted. Graphical elements are discarded, and tables are converted to a series of paragraphs.

Pasting between documents when style definitions conflict

When you paste content that was copied from another document in Word, and the style that is assigned to the copied text is defined differently in the document where the text is being pasted, you can specify the following default behavior.

  • Keep Source Formatting    This option retains the look of the copied text by assigning the Normal style to the pasted text and applying direct formatting. Direct formatting includes characteristics such as font size, italics, or other formatting to mimic the style definition of the copied text.
  • Use Destination Styles (Default)    This option retains the style name that is associated with the copied text, but it uses the style definition of the document where the text is being pasted. For example, you copy Heading 1 text from one document to another. In one document, Heading 1 is defined as Arial bold, 14-point, and in the document where you are pasting the text, Heading 1 is defined as Cambria bold, 16-point. When you use the Use Destination Styles option, the pasted text uses Heading 1 style, Cambria bold, 16-point.
  • Match Destination Formatting    This option discards the style definition and most formatting that was applied directly to the copied text, but it retains formatting that is considered emphasis, such as bold and italic, when it is applied to only a portion of the selection. The text takes on the style definition in the document where the text is being pasted.
  • Keep Text Only    This option discards all formatting and nontext elements such as pictures or tables. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted and takes on any direct formatting or character style properties of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted. Graphical elements are discarded, and tables are converted to a series of paragraphs.

Pasting from other programs

When you paste content that was copied from another program, you can specify the following default behavior.

  • Keep Source Formatting (Default)    This option retains the formatting of the copied text.
  • Match Destination Formatting    This option discards most formatting that was applied directly to the copied text, but it retains formatting that is considered emphasis, such as bold and italic, when it is applied to only a portion of the selection. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted. The text also takes on any direct formatting characteristics of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted.
  • Keep Text Only    This option discards all formatting and nontext elements such as pictures or tables. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted and takes on any direct formatting or character style properties of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted. Graphical elements are discarded, and tables are converted to a series of paragraphs.

Back to Set Word defaults for pasting text

Settings for the smart cut-and-paste option

The smart cut-and-paste option helps you to automatically adjust formatting as you paste text.

In the Settings dialog box, specify default behavior when merging, cutting, and pasting text. You can override default behavior by using the Paste Options button that appears when you paste content from the Clipboard into your document. This button is available only when the Use smart cut and paste option is turned on.

  • Use default options for    Click an item in the list to preselect a configuration of options in the dialog box. To select your own configuration of options, click Custom in this list.
  • Adjust sentence and word spacing automatically    Select this option to remove extra spaces when deleting text or add necessary spaces when pasting text from the clipboard.
  • Adjust paragraph spacing on paste    Select this option to prevent creating empty paragraphs and to prevent inconsistent paragraph spacing.
  • Adjust table formatting and alignment on paste    Select this option to control the formatting and alignment of tables. When this option is turned on, single cells are pasted as text, table portions are pasted as rows into an existing table (rather than as a nested table), and tables added to an existing table are adjusted to match the existing table.
  • Smart style behavior    Selecting this option has no effect. To fine-tune the behavior of styles when pasting content, use the Pasting options in the Cut, copy, and paste section of the Advanced options.
  • Merge formatting when pasting from Microsoft Office PowerPoint    Select this option to control the results when you paste content from a PowerPoint presentation. When this option is turned on, the formatting of the surrounding text or table is applied to the pasted text; the most recently used bullet, number, or list style is applied to the pasted list; and the look of items such as tables, hyperlinks, images, OLE objects, and shapes is preserved from the source in PowerPoint.
  • Adjust formatting when pasting from Microsoft Office Excel    Select this option to control the results when pasting data from Excel. When this option is turned on, pasted data is placed in a table, and charts are pasted as pictures rather than as OLE (OLE: A program-integration technology that you can use to share information between programs. All Office programs support OLE, so you can share information through linked and embedded objects.) objects.
  • Merge pasted lists with surrounding lists    Select this option to format list items to conform to the surrounding list when you are pasting the items into a list.

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Applies to:
Word 2007