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Copying and Pasting Word Tutorial

Free Online Microsoft Word Tutorials
MS Word 2010 - Entering Text

* Copy, Cut and Paste
* The Paste Function
* Paste Special
* The Clipboard

A document in Word is not static or final and changes, edits and updates are a normal part of the lifecycle of any document.  The cut, copy and paste functions allow you to quickly move content from one part of a document to another part of the document or a different document altogether.

In Word you will frequently copy and paste text using keyboard shortcuts, the right mouse button and drag and drop.

Test your MS Word skills with the corresponding FREE Online Multiple Choice
Copying and Pasting Test




* Copy, Cut and Paste

The Copy, Cut and Paste trio in Word streamlines working with all types of content in a document.  It allows you to make duplicates of sections of text, paragraphs, images, tables and even whole documents, and paste these repeatedly in different locations within the same document or other documents.  The Cut function is similar to the Copy function except, as its name suggests, the Cut function removes content from its original position.  The Paste function partners with Copy and Cut and is usually the next action you will perform after copying or cutting content in a document.

The first step to Copy or Cut content is selecting the content you wish to move or insert in a different location. 

There are a number of ways to COPY content:

1.  Use the Copy button located in the Clipboard group under the Home Tab on the Ribbon (circled in yellow in the screenshot below).  This button will be greyed out (unavailable) if you have not selected something to be copied.  After you have clicked the Copy button, the content will be copied onto the Office Clipboard which operates in the background and is therefore not usually visible.

Copy

2.   A second way to quickly copy is to right-click on the content you wish to copy and then select Copy from the menu that appears (circled in yellow in the screenshot below):

Copy

 

3.  The third, and possibly preferred way of copying content, is to use shortcut keys on your keyboard.  After selecting the content you wish to copy, press Ctrl+c on your keyboard to copy the content to the Clipboard.


There are also a number of ways to CUT content:

1.  Press the Cut button (circled in yellow in the screenshot below) in the Clipboard Group located under the Home Tab on the Ribbon, after selecting the content you wish to cut out of an area of a document.  The Cut button will be greyed out (unavailable) unless you have selected content to cut.  After you press the Cut button the content will be copied to the Clipboard that works in the background of the Word program.

Microsoft Word Tutorial - Cut


2.  The second method for cutting content is to select the content you wish to cut
and then use the right mouse button by right-clicking on your selection.  Choose the Cut option from the menu that appears (circled in yellow in the screenshot below).  This will cut the content and place it on the Clipboard that works in the background of Word.

Microsoft Word Tutorial - Cut

3.  A third, and possibly preferred way of cutting content, is to use shortcut keys on your keyboard.  Select the content you wish to cut then hold down the Ctrl key and press the X key.  This will cut the selected content from its current position and place it on the Clipboard.


* The Paste Function

Next we look at the third member of the trio, the Paste function.  Copying and cutting content serves little purpose if you are not going to Paste it.  The Paste function works in exactly the same way as you would imagine a tube of glue stick works in that it takes items you have collected and allow you to insert them into a desired space.

There are a few methods you can use to Paste content, but remember that you cannot Paste unless you have copied or cut content FIRST.  The Paste function will always paste the last copied or cut item. 

1.  Move your cursor's insertion point to where you wish the content you have cut or copied to be pasted.  Press the Paste button (circled in yellow in the screenshot below) located in the Clipboard group under the Home Tab on the Ribbon.  This will paste your copied or cut text, image or other element(s).

Microsoft Word Tutorial - Cut

2.  A second way to Paste copied or cut content is to use shortcut keys on your keyboard.  First, move the insertion point in your document to where you wish to insert the cut or copied content then hold down the Ctrl key and press V on your keyboard to paste.




* Paste Special

Paste Special is a set of options that gives you the power to tell Word what format you wish the cut or copied content to adopt when pasted.  This function enables you to stipulate whether you wish pasted content to be matched to the paste destination, keep its original formatting or to remove all formatting altogether.  Formatting is any customization that you apply to text, images or other elements that aids its functionality or aesthetic value. 

Imagine you are copying from text that is formatted to be Times New Roman, bold with wide spacing between lines and you are pasting it into content that is formatted size 12, Arial, not-bold and with single line spacing.   Compare the two blocks of text below and note how different they look:

Microsoft Word Tutorial - Paste Special

If we wanted to copy or cut the items from the first document into the second document, we would use the Paste Special function to ensure that the text conforms to the destination document (the second block in our example).

To use Paste Special: 

1.  Copy or cut the text you wish to Paste.  Move the insertion point to where you wish the content to be inserted and paste it either by pressing the Paste button on the Ribbon or using the Paste shortcut key (Ctrl+v).

2.  Directly after pasting, you will note that a Paste icon appears at the bottom right-hand corner of the content you pasted (see icon circled in yellow in screenshot below).  This is called the Paste Special Option Box.

Microsoft Word Tutorial - Paste Special
3.  You may also have noticed that the text you paste has retained its original formatting after pasting which means it looks different to the text surrounding it, which is not usually desired.  To fix this and match the pasted text to the destination format, click on the Paste Special Option Box.  Depending on the type of content you copied, a couple of icons will appear.  If you hover your mouse icon over each icon you will be provided with a short explanation of what each button's function is.  For the purposes of this tutorial we will focus only on matching the formatting to the destination format. 

4.  Click on the button that says Keep Text Only (when you hover your mouse over the icon) to ensure the pasted content is pasted as text only and picks up the formatting of the document where you are pasting it.

Do experiment with the results of selecting any of the other buttons in the Paste Special Option Box.



* The Clipboard

The Clipboard in Microsoft Office is an exceptionally useful tool that is often overlooked or altogether missed.  It functions in the same way as a real clipboard would by allowing you to add multiple items to it that can then be retrieved at a later point.  When the Clipboard is not displayed, it will save only the last item you copied or cut.  When the Clipboard is displayed, it can save up to the last 24 cut or copied items.

1.  To view the Clipboard, click the dialogue box launcher in the right-hand corner of the Clipboard Group (circled in yellow in the screenshot below):

Microsoft Word Tutorial - Paste Special

2.  The Clipboard appears as a panel on the left-hand side of the screen.  The last item you copied or cut will be on the clipboard.  Experiment with copying and/or cutting different elements in a document and note how they are displayed on the Clipboard.

3.  To Paste an item from the Clipboard into the current document, move your selection point to where you wish to insert the item.  Click on the item on the Clipboard to paste it.

4.  To delete an item off of the Clipboard, hover your mouse icon over the item and click on the dropdown arrow located to the right of the item and then select 'delete'.

5.  To paste items collected in one document into another document, simply display the Clipboard in the document into which you wish to paste and click on the item(s) to insert.

6.  You can delete all items off of the Clipboard by selecting the Clear All button located at the top left-hand corner of the Clipboard.

Test your MS Word skills with the corresponding FREE Online Multiple Choice
Copying and Pasting Test