Pasted Text Looks Like Hollow Squares

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 8, 2018)

1

At work every day Robert is required to research media articles, copying and pasting anything relevant to his department into a Word document. Recently, after pasting a specific article, all the text appeared as hollow squares. This is a first for Robert; he wonders why the text would appear this way when the original source is in legible English.

Virtually every time you see the small squares instead of characters, it means that your document (or at least the portion that you pasted) is using a font that is not installed on your system. Short of figuring out what that font is and installing it, there are a couple of immediate solutions.

First, if you've already pasted the information, then select it and press Ctrl+Space Bar. This resets the selected characters so that they use the font defined in the underlying style. Since you are pasting from a Web page, in most cases this means that the underlying style is the Normal style, and you should be able to immediately see the letters.

If this doesn't work, it means that whatever you pasted is using a different style where the font defined in the style is one you don't have installed. In this case, with the text selected simply pick a different font using the tools on the Home tab of the ribbon.

If you haven't pasted your text yet, but you've already copied it from the source, then place the insertion point where you want to paste and click the down-arrow next to or under the Paste tool on the Home tab of the ribbon. You'll see some options (they can vary for a variety of reasons), but you want to pick the Keep Text Only option. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Choosing a pasting option.

If you cannot find the right option—the one that results in only text being pasted, not formatting—you can always choose the Paste Special option, which displays the Paste Special dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Paste Special dialog box.

Again, the options available in the Paste Special dialog box will vary from system to system, but you want the Unformatted Text option. That will paste just the text, and you won't see the hollow squares in what you paste.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1590) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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

How Excel Treats Disk Files

Workbooks are loaded from disk files, but workbooks aren't the only type of files that Excel can load. This tip provides ...

Discover More

Changing the Starting Page Number

Word normally numbers pages in a document starting at one and extending as far as the number of pages you have. If you ...

Discover More

Trimming Spaces from Strings

When processing text with a macro, you often need to remove extraneous spaces from the text. VBA provides three handy ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Selecting a Text Block

Word has an interesting way of allowing you to select a rectangular block of text, without reference to what may be ...

Discover More

Using Correct Apostrophes

Word does a pretty good job of figuring out what apostrophes to use around your text. There may be times, however, when ...

Discover More

Working with Master and Subdocuments

Word has long had the capability of establishing relationships between documents by designating some as master documents ...

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 7 + 2?

2018-09-10 19:46:04

Aviel Roy-Shapira

Is there a way to make word use unformatted text as the default? (I am using Word 2016 for Mac)


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.