Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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 August 15, 2020)

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.
  • Clear means to remove text or another element from your document without saving it in the Clipboard. This is typically done with the Del (which is the same as deleting) or Backspace key. You can also clear other elements by using various tools on the toolbar (for instance, to clear formatting).
  • 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 Paste 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, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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

Printing a Bookmark List with Contents

Bookmarks can be a great tool in Word, allowing you to easily remember the location of desired blocks of text. If you ...

Discover More

Setting Default Options for Track Changes

The Track changes feature in Word is a great help in editing documents, particularly if you are working with others or ...

Discover More

Creating a Center Across Selection Button

The ability to center text across a range of cells has long been a staple of experienced Excel users. Here's how to ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Unknown Non-Printing Characters

When you paste information into Word from the internet, you may get more than just the plain text you hoped for. This tip ...

Discover More

Pasted Text Looks Like Hollow Squares

When you paste something into your document, you expect it to at least be readable. If, instead of letters, you see small ...

Discover More

What Line Am I On?

At the bottom of your document, on the status bar, Word allows you to include an indicator of the line on which your ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 four more than 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.

Videos
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.