Pasting Pictures and Text into a Document

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 24, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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Robert periodically needs to copy information from the Web and paste it into a Word document. If he selects the webpage, presses Ctrl+C, and then presses Ctrl+V in the document, the text from the webpage is pasted, but the images are not. Even if he tries to copy and paste the images one at a time they are not pasted into the document. Robert wonders if he is missing some technique that will allow him to paste the entire webpage (including images) into his document.

When you try to copy from a website and paste into a Word document, there are an astounding number of variables that come into play. Trying to think how these variables interact with each other can be enlightening, but it can also be very frustrating when you just want to copy and paste something. For instance, consider the following short list:

  • In what format does the image reside on the web page?
  • What technology is used to display both the text and image on the web page?
  • What is the effect of the CSS used to display both the text and image on the web page?
  • What does your browser do to the information transferred from the server? How does that affect what you see?
  • When you press Ctrl+C, what is actually copied from the web page to the Clipboard?
  • Does Word know how to display image formats the same way your browser does?
  • Is Word interpreting the contents of the Clipboard properly?
  • Does the style automatically applied to what you are pasting allow for the display of images and text as you expect?

This is just a sampling of some of the considerations that come into play when you chose to copy from a website and paste into a Word document. As you can tell, the considerations that affect your ability to successfully copy and paste are not all related to Word. Some considerations originate with the website, others with your browser, and still others with your operating system. And, you probably have no control over some of the considerations and limited control over others.

So, what can you do within Word itself, where you can hopefully exert a little bit of control? The first thing to realize is that Word has the ability to paste things in a variety of formats. You can see this if, after copying from the web page and switching to Word, you display the Paste Special dialog box. (See Figure 1.) (Do this by displaying the Home tab of the ribbon, clicking the down-arrow next to the Paste tool, and choosing Paste Special.)

Figure 1. An example of the Paste Special dialog box when pasting from a web page.

Note that there are multiple pasting options presented in the dialog box. These options are dynamic, based on what Word thinks should be done with the contents of the Clipboard. This means that when you display the dialog box, you will probably see a different number of options than what I've shown here.

Now, if you had chosen to press Ctrl+V instead of displaying the Paste Special dialog box, which format would Word have used to do the pasting? The short answer is that it would have used the one that was Word's "best guess" of how to represent the contents of the Clipboard. And, in some cases, that guess may be incorrect—you may not end up getting what you expected.

This has led many people to never press Ctrl+V, but to instead always display the Paste Special dialog box and choose what they feel is the best choice. For me, I'll often press Ctrl+V and if the paste doesn't seem right to me, I'll immediately press Ctrl+Z to undo the paste and then display the Paste Special dialog box to exert more control over what Word does. (I should note here that it isn't unusual to have to press Ctrl+Z more than once to undo the paste. In some instances, Word will not only paste, but then automatically format what it pasted. This results in two entries in the Undo stack, and two presses of Ctrl+Z to undo those actions.)

If I use the Paste Special dialog box to choose the pasting format that I know should work the best and I still don't get what I expect—like the images I wanted—then I have to face the fact that this isn't a Word issue, but is probably related to one of those considerations I talked about earlier, considerations over which I have much less (and possibly no) control.

In that case, if I want to copy an image, I try to right-click on the image in my browser and see what options are available to me. The options will vary, depending on what the browser thinks can be done with the image. If I'm lucky, I'll see an option that says "Copy Image." Choosing this, I can then switch to Word and paste the image into the proper place in the text I previously pasted.

There's a good chance that there will be no "Copy Image" option, however. In that case, I may need to try "Open Image in New Tab," and then right-click on the image on that tab in order to copy it. I've even had to resort to displaying the page source, tracking down the URL of the image, and trying to access it in that manner.

This may all seem like a lot of work, and it can be. When it comes to websites and what they may contain, there is no one-technique-fits-all approach to copying and pasting information. Instead, getting what you want can be an adventure that can test both your knowledge (of how information is stored and served on the Web) and your patience.

If push comes to shove, you can always use the brute-force method, which is to take a screen shot of what you see in your browser and then edit the screen shot so that it contains just the image you want. This image can then be pasted into your document as you would add any other image.

If you want to understand a bit more about some of the considerations when pasting text and images from the Web into a document, you'll find this article by Susan Barnhill to be most helpful:

http://wordfaqs.ssbarnhill.com/InvisibleGraphics.htm

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12453) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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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 six more than 5?

2022-12-27 17:14:46

Fred

I copy and paste images from an internal website into Word dozens of times a day. The images always paste the size of the width of the Word page (if the original image is larger than that). I'd love to have images paste automatically at a specific size (almost always three inches on the long side).


2022-12-24 12:03:00

David J. Bookbinder

Another alternative, if none of the Paste Special options work, is to save the web page as a PDF and then open the PDF in Word. Later versions of Word do a pretty good (though not perfect) job of converting PDFs to editable format.


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