Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Differences between Deleting, Clearing, and Cutting.

Differences between Deleting, Clearing, and Cutting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 5, 2014)

5

In most books you read about Word, and even in the Word documentation, you will see the terms delete, clear, and cut, each of which refers to an action you can do with text. These words are almost interchangeable, but there are subtle differences.

  • Delete means to remove text or another element from your document by pressing the Del key. This is analogous to clearing.
  • Clear means to remove text or another element from your document without saving it in the Clipboard. This is typically done with the Del or Backspace key.
  • Cut means to remove text or another element from your document and save it in the Clipboard. This is accomplished by using the Ctrl+X shortcut key or by clicking the Cut tool on the Home tab of the ribbon (in the Clipboard group).

You can undo any of these actions by pressing Ctrl+Z. It should also be noted that cutting is normally done as a precursor to pasting to another location whatever it was that you cut. (You can paste the contents of the Clipboard—what you cut—by using the Pate tool on the Home tab of the ribbon or by pressing Ctrl+V.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9193) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Differences between Deleting, Clearing, and Cutting.

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

First and Last Names in a Page Header

When you have a worksheet that includes a long list of names, you may want the first and last names on each page to appear in ...

Discover More

Removing Shortcuts for Macros

Word apparently has a bug in it that makes it very difficult to remove a shortcut key previously associated with a macro. ...

Discover More

Determining the Current Page Number

While your macro is processing the text in your document, you may need a way to determine the current page number where the ...

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)

Text Doesn't Wrap at Margin in Draft View

If you are using Word in Draft view, and the text on the screen doesn't wrap at the right margin like it should, the culprit ...

Discover More

Moving Section Breaks

Section breaks are used to divide a document into two or more sections that can be independently formatting. If you want to ...

Discover More

Moving Breaks Quickly

Breaks in a document can be easily moved from one place to another using familiar editing techniques. The trick is to make ...

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 one more than 9?

2014-07-23 01:15:18

M A Hameed

It will make life easier if you user a larger type sez for text of the Tip. As it is, it is difficult to read and one has to enlarge the type size. Why not save us this inconvenience by increasing the default type size.


2014-07-07 18:41:23

Ashley

There is actually an important difference between clear and delete: one can clear other things besides contents (formats, comments, hyperlinks, etc.).

I don't know if the default ribbons offer a clear pull-down box, but you can add one via File>Options>Customize Ribbon. Select "All Commands" in the "Choose commands from:" drop down box, then scroll down to "Clear ..." You will see there are six different "Clear..." buttons you can add, one of which is the "Clear >" drop down box.

Now, to test your new button, select some text with some sort of formatting and click on the new button. You should see a "Clear Formats" option as well as "Contents" (which is the same as deleting).


2014-07-06 15:52:33

Peter Kirkpatrick

Delete = "Use the Delete key" (hence the name). The selected item is removed.

Clear = "Remove the selected item." This may indeed be done using the Delete key (at which point Delete and Clear are synonyms) but can be done in other ways (eg in a macro)


2014-07-05 08:19:45

Kevin Dawson

I agree with Martin Andrew's comment


2014-07-05 04:50:45

Martin Andrew

It is not clear from the above what is the dfference between Delete and Clear. They both use the Del key.


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.