Control the formatting when you paste text

In Word, you can choose to paste text using the formatting of the source, destination, or just pure text. If you always want one of the options, set it as the default for pasted text.

Set default paste options

By default, Word preserves the original formatting when you paste content into a document using CTRL+V, the Paste button, or right-click + Paste. To change the default, follow these steps.

  1. Go to File > Options > Advanced.

  2. Under Cut, copy, and paste, select the down arrow for the setting to change .

    • Pasting within the same document    When you paste content into the same document from which you copied the content.

    • Pasting between documents    When you paste content that was copied from another Word document.

    • Pasting between documents when style definitions conflict    When you paste content that was copied from another Word document, and the style that is assigned to the copied text is defined differently in the document where the text is being pasted.

    • Pasting from other programs    When you paste content that was copied from another program, such as a browser.

    Copy - paste options in Word

  3. Each setting has options you can set:

    Keep Source Formatting
    Merge Formatting
    Keep Text Only

    For more info on these options, see Get the look you want.

  4. Select OK.

Notes: 

  • You can also select Set Default Paste from the Paste Options  Paste options button menu.

  • Paste menu with set default paste selected

Change options when pasting content

When you copy content from a formatted source, such as a webpage or another Word document, you can select options at the time you paste it into your document.

  1. Click or tap where you want to paste the content.

  2. Press CTRL + V and then select Paste Options  Paste options button .

  3. Hover over the buttons for a live review.

    Paste drop down with cursor hovering over text

  4. Select the paste option to use.

The Paste Options  Paste options button button lets you select formatting options and is on by default. If you don't see the button, it might be turned off. Follow these steps to turn it on.

  1. Go to File > Options > Advanced.

  2. In the Cut, copy, and paste section, select Show Paste Options button when content is pasted.

  3. Select OK.

If the setting is on but you don't see the button when you paste, make sure you're pasting formatted content, not pure text (like from NotePad.)

When you copy text from a Word document, webpage, or other app's document and paste it into a Word document, you can choose how the text is formatted. You can keep the original formatting, merge with the destination formatting, or paste just plain text.

  • Keep Source Formatting (K)    This option retains formatting that was applied to the copied text. Any style definition that is associated with the copied text is copied to the destination document.

  • Merge Formatting (M)    This option discards most formatting that was applied directly to the copied text, but it retains formatting that is considered emphasis, such as bold and italic, when it is applied to only a portion of the selection. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted. The text also takes on any direct formatting or character style properties of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted.

  • Picture (U)   This option is only available on Office 365 Subscription. Converts text into an image and pastes that. The text can't be changed, but you can treat it like any other picture or image and use effects, borders, or rotation. When selected, choose options from the Picture Format tab.

  • Keep Text Only (T)    This option discards all formatting and nontext elements such as pictures or tables. The text takes on the style characteristics of the paragraph where it is pasted and takes on any direct formatting or character style properties of text that immediately precedes the cursor when the text is pasted. Graphical elements are discarded, and tables are converted to a series of paragraphs.

When you paste items from a bulleted or numbered list into another list, you can keep their original formatting or sequence, or blend in with the numbering or bullets of the destination list.

Paste numbered items so the sequence continues    Choose Continue List (C) to have inserted items stay in sequence in the list.

Keep original sequence on numbered items    Choose New List (N) to have inserted items keep their original list sequence.

Paste bulleted items into a numbered list    To keep the bullets, choose Keep Source Formatting (K). To convert bullets to numbers, choose Merge Formatting (M).

Paste numbered items into a bulleted list    To keep the original numbers, choose Don't Merge List (D). To convert the numbers to bullets, choose Merge List (M).

Paste Text Only lists    By default, bullets and numbers are preserved when pasting text only. To turn this behavior off:

  1. Go to File > Options > Advanced.

  2. Clear Keep bullets and numbers when pasting text with Keep Text Only option.

  3. Select OK.

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