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: Cut and Paste Formatting.

Cut and Paste Formatting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 12, 2016)

4

If you are copying a paragraph from one document to another, you may have noticed some strange font changes that occur in your pasted information. This is due to the way in which Word treats styles and their relation to formatting. Understanding how this relationship works can help you understand what will happen to your pasted information.

When you copy a paragraph from one document into another and it takes on a different appearance, the primary reason is because the paragraph being formatted is using a style name already defined in the new document, and that style uses different character formatting. You are using styles whether you want to or not, because Word relies on the Normal style (which is predefined) as the default paragraph style. So if the Normal style uses an Arial font in your source document and the Normal style uses a Courier font in your target document, when you paste a paragraph from the source to the target, it takes on the appearance of Courier font. If you have simply selected all the text in your target document and changed it from Courier to Arial at some time in the past, you still have not redefined the Normal style, and new text will still be affected by it.

Now that you understand how Word treats text being pasted into a document, you can make it behave differently by simply changing the way the Normal style is formatted. How you do this depends on the version of Word you are using. Follow these steps:

  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 pane.
  3. In the list of available styles, hover the mouse pointer over the Normal style. You should see a drop-down arrow appear at the right side of the style name.
  4. Click the down arrow and choose Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Modify Style dialog box.

  6. Click on the Format button, then choose the Font option. Word displays the Font dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Font dialog box.

  8. Change the font settings to what you want and click OK. The Modify Style dialog box again appears.
  9. Make sure the Add to Template check box is selected or the New Documents Based on this Template radio button (depending on which version of Word you're using).
  10. Click OK to close the Modify Style dialog box
  11. Close the Styles pane.

The only exception to this style-conflict problem is if you have explicitly applied formatting to the source text. (For instance, you used the tools on the ribbon to format the text instead of relying on styles.) In this case, the formatting of your target will copy to the destination, but not always with the results you expect. For instance, if the source is formatted as bold Arial (and Arial is the default font for the source paragraph), and you copy it to the target where Courier is the default font, then you end up with bold Courier. Why? Because your explicit formatting (bold) was copied—nothing else. If, however, your target used Arial as a default font, but you had explicitly changed it to italics Palatino, then both the font (Palatino) and the attribute (italics) are copied to the target.

If you don't want to copy explicit formatting to your target document, the best way is to not use the regular Paste function (or Ctrl+V). Instead, use Paste Special and then specify that your selection be pasted as Unformatted 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 (8722) 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: Cut and Paste Formatting.

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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Comments

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What is 7 - 0?

2016-06-29 00:08:40

jraju

Sir,
Your Quote:
he only exception to this style-conflict problem is if you have explicitly applied formatting to the source text. (For instance, you used the tools on the ribbon to format the text instead of relying on styles.) In this case, the formatting of your target will copy to the destination, but not always with the results you expect. For instance, if the source is formatted as bold Arial (and Arial is the default font for the source paragraph), and you copy it to the target where Courier is the default font, then you end up with bold Courier. Why? Because your explicit formatting (bold) was copied—nothing else. If, however, your target used Arial as a default font, but you had explicitly changed it to italics Palatino, then both the font (Palatino) and the attribute (italics) are copied to the target.

My Question is : if however i selected paste special and copied the wen text as unformated text, the Aa , the bold font does not become regualar font of selection in the target, the bold font remains as it is .
What is the soloution


2016-03-14 00:33:15

Phil Reinemann

In Word I use a macro that pastes "unformatted" because often I want to format the text differently than the source (perhaps something on a web site) or the target style. My macro is assigned a button in Word and also I use Ctrl-Shift-V (in Windoze).
On Macs there is already a paste and match style key-sequence (shift+option+command+v) that works natively (including Mac Office).


2016-03-13 16:27:52

Craig H.

I agree with Lee that attempting to create a multi-level is difficult. In fact I think I would rather have the root canal instead. I always find myself having to modify the formatting of the lists from scratch.

However, I slightly disagree about the Style Based On check box. I base all my styles either on Normal or a derivative of Normal. That way I can make wholesale adjustments to the document, such as font style or size, simply by changing those characteristics of the Normal style. Care must be exercised to avoid problems with the parent-daughter relationship of styles. Thoughtfully define your Normal style. Then create each of your other styles using Normal as the starting point and changing only those characteristics needed for the new style.


2016-03-12 08:14:50

Lee Batchelor

Good tip. There's something else. I noticed the "Style based on" text box is unchecked. This is very wise. I NEVER base a custom style on another unless I really have to. The parent-child relationship in styles can prove disastrous and unpredictable. The only time I modify this text box from "(no style)" is for multilevel lists--something else MS really dropped the ball on!! The method for developing multilevel list styles is like having root canal. MS really needs to give us a patch that simplifies the process. Their numbered lists are also very unpredictable when carried between other documents.

Good idea about mentioning the affect of direct formatting too.


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