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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Working with Fonts

Windows allows you to install different fonts that control how information is displayed and printed. This tip gives a ...

Discover More

Adding a File Path and Filename

If you need to stuff the current workbook's filename and path into a cell or a header or footer, you'll appreciate the ...

Discover More

Creating Two Versions of the Same Document

You may often need to create two versions of the same document, one with everything and the other with a subset of what is ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Adding a Break to Your Document

Want to modify the way your text flows between pages in a document? Word allows you to insert several types of breaks that ...

Discover More

Jumping to a Relative Page

When you are navigating around your document, you may find it helpful to jump a certain number of pages either toward the ...

Discover More

Creating Special, Compound Characters

If you have a need for special characters (particularly in technical documents), Word provides a couple of ways you can ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 4 + 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.