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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 15, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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. ...

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