Inconsistent Availability of Drag and Drop Editing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 9, 2019)

As a freelance academic editor, Norman works with documents from many (usually unknown) earlier versions of Word. In some it is not possible to drag and drop text; he has to, instead, use Ctrl+X and Ctrl+V to move it. Norman would be interested to know what underlying property in the document causes this inconsistent behavior.

The first thing to do is to check to see if drag-and-drop capability is turned on in the document. You can do that by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Advanced. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the check box beside the Allow Text to Be Dragged and Dropped option is selected. (The option is in the Editing section.)
  5. Click OK to close the dialog box.

The reason to check this out is that it is unclear from Microsoft's documentation whether this drag-and-drop setting is stored with the document or with the system on which the document is opened. If it is the former, then it would explain Norman's experience.

If drag-and-drop editing is turned on and the problem persists, it could actually be by design. You see, the ability to drag and drop text is dependent on the state in which Word is working at the time. Specifically, it won't work if there are dialog boxes open on the screen. For instance, if you have the Find and Replace dialog box open or the Cross-Reference dialog box open, then you cannot drag and drop. You also cannot use drag-and-drop editing while the macro recorder is running.

The solution in this case is to simply turn off the macro recorder and make sure that any open dialog boxes are closed before you try to drag and drop.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13618) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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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