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: Pasting Text with Track Changes.

Pasting Text with Track Changes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 11, 2017)


One of the Word features commonly used by editors is the Track Changes feature. You may have need, from time to time, to copy text from one document to another and retain the change marks in the text being copied. For instance, if the text in the source document has some words struck through and some others highlighted as inserts, you may want the text to appear the same way in the target document.

Getting the desired results is not a matter of simply cutting and pasting. Here are the explicit steps you should follow to get the desired results:

  1. In the source document, select the text you want to copy.
  2. Make sure that Track Changes is turned off in the source document. (If you don't do this, Word assumes you want to copy the text as if all the changes in the selection were accepted.)
  3. Press Ctrl+C to copy the text to the Clipboard, or Ctrl+X to cut the text.
  4. In the target document, place the insertion point where you want the text inserted.
  5. Make sure that Track Changes is turned off in the target document.
  6. Press Ctrl+V to paste the text from the Clipboard.

Another handy way to copy the text is to use the spike. Word users are so familiar with using the Clipboard to cut, copy, and paste information that we often forget about the spike. This is an area of Word that acts like a secondary Clipboard, with some significant differences. (You can learn more about the spike in other issues of WordTips or in Word's online Help.) To use the spike to copy and paste text with Track Changes markings intact, follow these steps:

  1. In the source document, select the text you want to copy.
  2. Press Ctrl+F3. The text is cut from the document and placed on the spike. (If you wanted to copy, not cut, then immediately press Ctrl+Z to undo the cut. The selected text still remains on the spike.)
  3. In the target document, place the insertion point where you want the text inserted.
  4. Make sure that Track Changes is turned off in the target document.
  5. Press Shift+Ctrl+F3 to clear the spike and insert the spike's text into your document.

That's it!

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11254) 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: Pasting Text with Track Changes.

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 1 + 3?

2021-07-30 13:12:28

Martin F.

Thanks a lot, your post was a big help.

2021-01-29 13:36:30


Thank you!!! This was so easy and saved me a huge amount of work!!

2020-08-05 09:58:25

Jones G.

Thanks so much, that was very easy and helpful!

2020-04-24 04:59:57


A great help in a hurry: thank you, Allen Wyatt!

2020-02-20 15:33:52

Ved Sharma

Thanks a lot, this was a big help.

2019-11-29 05:41:49


Like Andy Gillette - a life saver for me too!!!!!!
Thank you ever so much !!!!

2019-10-16 08:18:18

Andy Gillette

I'd like to just say that I've used this page about a dozen times--total life saver for me and the type of work I do. THANK YOU!

2019-06-03 07:12:56


Turning change tracking was the missing ingredient for me, thank you!

2019-05-30 07:36:00

Rekha Chaturvedi

The spike method or the other one mentioned in word tips did not work when I tried to retain track changes intact when pasted in a new word document.

2019-04-25 14:03:01


I knew I could count on you! You saved me from a huge mess!

For those who might be having trouble, the first time I tried it, I didn't realize that the SOURCE document needs to have track changes off as well as the TARGET document. Once I did that, everything worked just fine (Word 2007).

2019-04-22 18:37:46

Sandra Boedecker

Echoing the last few commenters. The steps to these simple tasks are often so straightforward yet so elusive, and we can waste so much time searching for them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

2019-03-07 10:13:10


Yessss!!! This is the answer! Top notch!

2019-02-27 02:19:32


This page and some of your other pages have been life-savers for me, time and again. Thank you from a grateful editor!

2019-02-11 22:18:28


You saved my day. Thanks a million!

2019-02-05 04:27:03

Tony B

Lorna: to use the spike on the Mac (Word365) you need to include the Fn key, so

Copy: Fn+Cmd+F3
Place spike: Fn+Shft+Cmd+F3

Anyway that works for me.

2019-02-05 01:26:58


This doesn't work. It just deletes the text

2019-02-04 16:40:55

Lorna Collier

I can't make this tip work for Word for Mac 16. I have a section of text in a book that I want to send to a client with track changes showing. I have tried turning off track changes in the source (new) document. But when I paste, the changes aren't there. I didn't turn off changes in the original file, since I want them to show up.

This "spike" business doesn't seem to work at all on my Mac. I tried with both Control and Command plus the F3 key. Nada.

Any advice for me?

I hate having to cut all the preceding and following chapters from a file each time I want to send the edited chapter to my client. Big, slow hassle. There has to be an easier way!

2019-01-16 20:55:50

Scott Fraser

Is it possible to copy text from MSWord with the unaccepted revisions and place in an Excel cell?

We're reviewing multipule document revisions, and are assembeling our concerns about the proposed revisions. We're using a spreadsheet to collect and resolve these concern.

2018-12-11 02:15:07

Mohammad Najjar

Really useful.. Life saver!

2018-11-21 04:48:56


Very useful thanks

2018-08-07 14:16:28


Thank you. Love your site!
I agree with Andrew, the real trick is to copy redlined text from a Word document into an Outlook email. Unfortunately for me, Andrew's macro solution is above my skill level. Any advice on that problem for those of us not as smart as Andrew?

2018-07-20 05:30:47


Very useful, thanks!

2018-06-27 05:39:02


Thank you. You give the best advice! You've helped me out of many jams.

2018-03-19 09:46:16


I do this all the time. The real trick, though, is to show the "track changed" text in an email. For this I use a macro to copy the selected text to a scratch document using the method of this tip, I convert the track changes text to manual formatting, and copy the whole thing into the clipboard. Very useful. Here's a macro with guts of the conversion:

Sub ConvertTrackedChangesToFormattedTextInRange(rng As Range)
' Based on macro by Doug Robbins - Word MVP
' downloaded from
' A first limitation is that this only works for simple text structures (not moves, etc.)
' A second limitation is that the formatting of the output is fixed as blue double underline
' for insertions and red strikethrough for deletions.

Dim arev As Revision

For Each arev In rng.Revisions
If arev.Type = wdRevisionDelete Then
With arev.Range.Font
.StrikeThrough = True
.Color = wdColorRed
End With
ElseIf arev.Type = wdRevisionInsert Then
With arev.Range.Font
.Underline = wdUnderlineSingle
.Color = wdColorBlue
End With
End If
Next arev
End Sub

2018-03-18 03:17:07


Oh jeez, this saved my life. I've been using Word since college and never had issues until the Beast That Is 365...ugh. That Microsoft would decide to make this random change of accepting edits by default when copying is definitely a bug...not a feature. Dang machines are supposed to do what I tell them, not what they think I want to do!!

2018-02-07 04:55:05


Tried both ways, none worked. I am on Word 2010.
Tried a few times without success. I am sure I followed the steps correctly.

2017-12-12 13:09:58


Works great, some people may need to use the Fn key as well depending on their keyboard I guess.

2017-12-10 21:38:24


This has been extremely helpful! With many organizations already shifting to G Suites, this tip in word doc saved me!

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