Font Changes when Pasting to Another Document

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 6, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


Jens has a document that uses the Tahoma font, which is his company's default. When he tries to copy text from this document to a different one that also uses Tahoma in the entire document, the font of the pasted text changes to Times New Roman. Jens wonders why this happens and how he can fix it.

This almost certainly has to do with the way that Word works with styles. You can check this out by opening both documents on the screen at the same time. In explaining how this works, I'll refer to the document from which you want to copy as the source document and the document to which you want to paste as the target document.

First, let's take a look at the source document. You want to follow these steps:

  1. Select the paragraph you plan on copying. (Just double-click in the paragraph; that should select it.)
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Styles group. Word displays the Styles task pane.
  4. One of the styles in the task pane should have a blue box around it. This is the style applied to the paragraph selected in step 1. There is a good chance it is the Normal style or one of the other built-in Word styles.
  5. Hover the mouse pointer over the style you noticed in step 4 (the one with the blue box). After a moment, Word displays a box that shows a summary of the formatting for the style. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. A style summary.

You'll want to jot down two things: the name of the style (such as Normal) and the name of the font used by that style (such as Tahoma). Now you need to take a look at the target document, but you need to follow steps that are slightly different:

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Styles group. Word displays the Styles task pane.
  3. In the list of styles in the task pane, locate the style that has the same name as the one you jotted down from the source document, such as Normal. Don't click on it, but instead hover the mouse pointer over the style name. You should see the same type of summary box that you displayed with the source document.

In Jens' case, I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts that the summary box in the target document shows that the font is Times New Roman. Why is this significant? Well, when you copy a paragraph from the source document and paste it into the target document, if the target document has a style with the same name as the what is used by the paragraph being pasted, that paragraph adopts the settings used by the style in the target document. Thus, if you are copying a paragraph formatted with the Normal style, when you paste it in the target document, it uses whatever is defined for the Normal style in the target document.

The natural question at this point is why the target document shows text in Tahoma, then. Notice that when you follow the steps earlier outlined, the font shown in the style definition summary boxes doesn't necessarily match the font used for the paragraph selected. Let's say that in the target document all the paragraphs use the Normal style. Even if the style definition uses Times New Roman, it is possible that someone selected all the text in the document and explicitly changed the font to Tahoma using the tools on the Home tab of the ribbon. This, however, doesn't change the font defined in the underlying style (Normal), and it is that underlying font that is being used when the paragraph is being pasted.

The short-term solution may be to modify how you paste your text into the target document. Instead of simply pressing Ctrl+V, use Paste Special to paste only the text. This forces the text being pasted to adopt the formatting used at the point where the insertion point is located.

The longer-term solution is to modify the style definition in the target document. For instance, if the style you are working with is the Normal style (as already discussed), then you'll want to change the formatting associated with that style so that it uses the Tahoma font instead of Times New Roman. Then your pasting should work as expected.

Of course, it could be in Jens' case that the text in the target document uses a different style, such as Body, and that the Body style is defined to use the Tahoma style. If you copy a paragraph from the source document that uses the Normal style and paste it into the target document, it doesn't automatically use the Body style, as the rest of the document does. Instead, it keeps the Normal style but uses the style settings for the Normal style as they exist in the target document. In this case it would be a simple task to apply the Body style to the paragraph you just pasted, thereby changing the appearance of the text.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (4634) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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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What is 9 + 3?

2023-02-06 14:22:28


Thank you so much for this info! I am constantly having to bring notes between documents, and it was becoming a nightmare to constantly have to edit the text after copy pasting every time. I appreciate you laying this out so clearly. Thank you.

2023-02-03 14:07:24


Weird. I copy text (normal style, Times New Roman) from a document, then paste it in another region of the same document and it pastes as Arial font. When i put the cursor in the Arial font pasted text, there is no box around a corresponding style. In other words, Word is pasting the text using a style that does not exist.

2020-10-16 03:41:21

Meredyth Sawyer

I don't get it. I have set the default for all my documents to Sans Serif. I like as plain a text as possible, so it's easy to read. Every time I paste from 1 document in Sans Serif to another document in Sans Serif, it always comes out Times New Roman. There must be a way to fix this. How can that be the default when I set the default to something else? It makes a mockery of having a default. Also, is there a way to may the type darker when I change the size to 8 or 9. It used to be fine but now that I've downloaded the new 2019 Office, 8 & 9 sizes in Word are very faint and so it this comment I'm typing to you. How can Word affect what you type on the internet?

2017-11-13 16:33:59

Derek Brown

You can map the key sequence Ctrl-Shft-V (or whatever) to a macro with the code "Selection.PasteAndFormat (wdFormatPlainText)" so that the pasted text always takes on the format of the document into which it is copied.

2017-11-11 23:45:01

Art Osgatharp

Word can control how material copied from another document is formatted by default when pasted . Go to File...Options...Advanced...Cut, copy, and paste and set the desired paste type using the drop-downs.

2017-11-11 05:30:59

Gary Loew

Allen - With donuts costing a dollar or more nowadays, your bet might not be a rewarding transaction for your counterparty. :-)

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