Pasting Text in a Specific Language

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 7, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Allan quite often copies and pastes into Word from other documents and from web pages. When he pastes such content, he has to select what he pasted and then format it as UK English. (Word seems to default on his system to US English.) Allan wonders if there is a way to paste and have Word automatically format what he's pasting as UK English so that he doesn't have to go through the extra step.

In Word, the language associated with text is considered a format of that text, just like bold, italic, or font size. This means that if you have text you want to use a particular language when you paste it, the easiest way is to follow these two general steps:

  1. Make sure that the target document (the one into which you will be pasting) is formatted as using UK English.
  2. When pasting, use Paste Special to paste only text, without formatting. This results in the pasted text adopting the formatting of text where it is pasted—including the language of that text.

The drawback to this approach, of course, is that any other formatting in the text being copied is lost when the pasting is complete. This means you'll need to go back and reapply any formatting you want in the pasted text. Because of that drawback, you may decide it is easier to change the language after pasting than it is to change the other formatting—the decision is going to depend entirely on the nature of what you are pasting and the results you hope to achieve.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13512) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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 five more than 6?

2018-04-09 04:59:03

Richard Price

Styles can help with this issue, particularly if the target document already has a style with the same name as that used for the text to be copied from the source document. For example, suppose the target document has a style called Body Text that has its proofing language set to UK English, and the text in the source document is in a style also called Body Text, where that has a proofing language of US English. In that case you can copy from the source and do a default paste into the target, which keeps any character formatting from the source (e.g. some superscripts) while acquiring all of the paragraph formatting of the target (UK English in this case).

The OP (Allan) should also address the issue that "Word seems to default on his system to US English". If Office doesn't follow the Windows Region & Language settings, you need to explicitly set the Office Language Preferences, e.g. in Word 2016: File -> Options -> Language, then under Choose Editing Languages click English (United Kingdom) then click "Set as Default". It might be worth checking that the Normal style in the template (Normal.dotm by default) doesn't have an explicit language setting, which I believe is no longer necessary.

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