Paste options in Microsoft Office

Try these various Paste options next time you have to copy into another document.

Thomas Duff

by Thomas Duff on 12/13/2016

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Date Revised:
12/13/2016

Applies to:
Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, paste formatting


You've all been there… you copy something from a web page, Word document, PowerPoint slide, whatever. You then go to paste it into an email or a new Word document, and you end up with something not even close to what you wanted. Then you spend the next few minutes trying to reformat it so that it looks appropriate. Is there a better way to paste content you've copied?

Each Microsoft Office program (such as Outlook, Word, Excel, etc., as well as many other non-Microsoft programs) offers a variety of options when you paste content. This tip looks at Keep Source Formatting, Merge Formatting, and Keep Text Only.

Here's a web page from a search I did in SharePoint. I highlighted the content in the Refiners part of the page and hit CTRL-C to copy it:

Now I want to paste this content into an email in Outlook (but it would be the same for Word). I have three different options for pasting. On the Paste icon, I click the dropdown arrow to get my Paste Options. The first icon, Keep Source Formatting, will paste the content as close to how the source data was displayed:

As you can see, that looks pretty close to what I copied from the web page.

The next option, Merge Formatting, attempts to take the copied content and put it in a format that is similar to the default formatting of the document or email, while still trying to keep the look and feel of the source material:

In this case, it kept the hyperlinks, but converted the formatting to a bulleted list and removed all the font formatting.

In the last case, Keep Text Only, all the formatting and hyperlinks are stripped out, and all you get is the text of the content that is being copied:

I find these options are most useful when I have to bring content into an email, and I know I'm going to have to reformat it in some way to use it. These three options allow me to get the source content closer to my intended formatting before I start.

One more thing to keep in mind… If you don't see all the options, it's likely that the area you're trying to paste the content into has formatting restrictions. For example, if my cursor had been in the To field of the email, I would have only been able to copy my content as plain text, as the To field doesn't allow for formatting.

Hope this helps you out!

Topic: One Minute Office Magic

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