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 March 29, 2018)

6

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. ...

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What is nine minus 4?

2018-03-29 08:43:44

Jennifer Thomas

Thank you Ashley -- when I read 'This is analogous to Clearing", I also thought "Not really ..." and that Clear drop down list is a very handy tool!


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.


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