Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Understanding Smart Cut and Paste.

Understanding Smart Cut and Paste

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 14, 2015)

Word includes a default feature, which tries to make your editing chores just a little easier. This feature, called smart cut and paste, adds or removes spaces when you are cutting or pasting text. This may sound odd, but it is really helpful in many situations. For instance, if you are pasting a word into a sentence, smart cut and paste makes sure that spaces are added around the word so that it doesn't "run in" to the words you are pasting near.

Likewise, when you cut a word from a sentence, sometimes the cut might result in two spaces left: the ones that used to surround the word being pulled. Instead, smart cut and paste results in one of the spaces being automatically deleted so the resulting sentence has (at least) the proper number of spaces in it.

You can control smart cut and paste in the following manner:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box and scroll down to the Cut, Copy, and Paste section. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Set the Use Smart Cut and Paste check box as desired. If selected, the feature is turned on; if not selected, it is off.
  5. Click the Settings button to make changes in how smart cut and paste works. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Settings dialog box.

  7. Click on OK.

Note in step 4 that the Settings dialog box provides a number of different settings you can specify for how smart cut and paste work. These are the options available:

  • Adjust Sentence and Word Spacing Automatically. This option is selected, by default. When selected, Word removes or adds extra spaces, as necessary, when pasting text.
  • Adjust Paragraph Spacing on Paste. This option, when selected, results in Word removing "empty" paragraphs when pasting. It also tries to prevent inconsistent paragraph spacing.
  • Adjust Table Formatting and Alignment on Paste. Selected by default, this option controls how table "fragments" are pasted. If you paste a cell, then it is pasted as text. If you paste multiple cells (or multiple rows) they are pasted as new rows in an existing table. If you paste an entire table it is added to the existing table and formatting is modified to match the existing table.
  • Smart Style Behavior. This option, also selected by default, serves absolutely no purpose that we can discover. (So it doesn't really matter if it is selected or not.)
  • Merge Formatting when Pasting from Microsoft PowerPoint. This option is selected by default; it only comes into play when you paste information from a PowerPoint presentation into your document. If selected, Word applies the formatting of surrounding text to the pasted text. If what you are pasting includes lists, then the most recently used bullet, number, or list style (in Word) is applied to what you are pasting. The formatting of tables, hyperlinks, images, and a few other items are retained from the formatting in PowerPoint.
  • Adjust Formatting when Pasting from Microsoft Excel. This option, when selected, results in Excel data being pasted into a Word table and charts being pasted as pictures.
  • Merge Pasted Lists with Surrounding Lists. This option, selected by default, results in Word formatting pasted text to match the list into which you are pasting. (If you are not pasting into a list, it has no effect.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Understanding Smart Cut and Paste.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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