Paste text in Word 2010 documents + Customize pasting options

Whenever you cut or copy text in Windows, it is placed  in a special "system" location called the Windows clipboard, and this information remains stored there until you cut or copy something else, or shut down your computer. Behind the scenes, Windows stores this text information in a variety of formats, and will determine what format fits best the target document in which you paste that content. Because of its sophistication, Word 2010 is able to accommodate pretty much any kind of data, including non-text elements: you can paste pictures in a Word document, you can even paste files! This implies that when you paste text into a Word document, it will typically inherit all the properties (formatting, structure, colors, bold and underline, even graphics), and you will end up importing external formatting information which, aside from potentially looking awkward, may "break" the formatting of your own document; but, as you'll learn in this tutorial, Microsoft Word has prepared for this eventuality by allowing you to paste unformatted text, (also known as "pasting plain text"), which retains content without any formatting! This tutorial explores the three standard pasting options in Word 2010, and will show you how to customize your paste settings based on document source (copied text) and target documents (pasted text).


Paste text in Microsoft Word documents

Once you are inside Word 2010, with a document (blank or not) opened, try copying text from another source (like this tutorial, for example) - select a portion of this text, right-click, and choose "Copy". Once back into your Word document, press the Ctrl+V keyboard shortcut to do a "regular paste".

Unless you changed the default paste options in Word 2010, you'll see formatting from this page included in your document, and a custom menu appear on screen: click on it, and you'll see a few options:
Custom paste options in Word 2010 You can also press the Ctrl key on your keyboard, and Word will show the menu; press the Tab key to cycle between the available paste options, and preview the changes to the already pasted text!

Directly select a paste option

Besides picking a paste option after the fact, you can access these and another paste option by clicking instead on the dropdown arrow below the "Paste" button, as shown on the screenshot below (clicking on the "Paste" button itself will do a regular paste).
Select a paste option for your document You will recognize this menu from the previous screenshot, but it adds a choice, namely the "Paste Special" command: if you click on it, Word 2010 will open a Paste Special dialog, which includes choices that depend on the type of data you have copied - but for regular text, the standard three options will do.

Change default pasting options in Word 2010

Both menus include a "Set Default Paste" option: clicking it will allow you to customize the default behavior Word 2010 will display when pasting different kinds of data. These settings can also be customized by clicking on the "File" button (top left corner of the Word window), and choosing "Options".

When the Options dialog opens, select "Advanced" on the left hand side, and scroll down in the right pane until you see the "Cut, Copy, and Paste" header:
Customize default paste options in Word 2010 There are four paste cases whose default paste you can customize:

Customize your clipboard paste behavior based on target document

For each paste option, customize a default behavior that Word 2010 will follow when you call a "default paste" command (by pressing the Ctrl+V keyboard shortcut or clicking on the main "Paste" button, for example). All you need to do is pick a preferred setting for each case: each dropdown menu includes the very same three paste option we discussed in the first section. The "factory setting" default option is differentiated in the respective menu with the word "(Default)" appended.

Tip: the pasting option that deals with the style conflict includes an additional, fourth choice labeled "Use Destination Styles". If selected (it is the default behavior for this particular scenario), this setting instructs Word 2010 to force the pasted text to inherit the style of the document it is pasted into.

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