Skip to content

Inside Smart Copy and Paste in Word

When Microsoft Word was first released, all those years ago, it had a Paste feature but it was dumb and literal.   These days Word’s Paste (Word for Windows and Word for Mac) is a lot smarter and does very useful things that you may not realize or appreciate.

Before the ‘Smart Paste’ options came along, pasting into Word was followed by fiddling around to make small changes.  These days we take these ‘smarts’ for granted.  They are worth keeping in mind if you’re trying to figure out Word’s behavior.

These options are at Word | Options |Advanced | Copy and Paste | Use smart cut and paste … Settings

These are options that most people don’t change, assuming they’re aware of them at all. They haven’t changed since Word 2007 and still apply in Word 365 for Windows. Even the option that does nothing is still there after 15 years!

Word for Windows: Word | Options |Advanced | Copy and Paste | Use smart cut and paste … Settings

Word for Mac has the same options (right down to the ‘do nothing’ choice)! Go to Word | Preferences | Edit | Cut and Paste Options | Settings.

Word for Mac: Word | Preferences | Edit | Cut and Paste Options | Settings

Adjust Sentence and Word Spacing Automatically.  A real time saver. Word removes or adds extra spaces when pasting text to make it sensibly fit in.  For example, if you paste a word into a sentence but paste it right at the start or end of an existing word, the pasted word will be added with a space to separate it from the word around.  It sounds like a little thing but it’s really handy.

The same works for whole sentences.  Sentences are automatically separated by one or two spaces, depending on the setting you have in Word.

Adjust Paragraph Spacing on Paste.  Word removes blank or empty paragraphs when pasting and it tries to stop irregular paragraph spacing.

Adjust Table Formatting and Alignment on Paste.  Affects how table segments are pasted.  Pasting a cell is pasted as text. Pasting multiple cells will become new rows in a table.  Pasting an entire table into an existing table, formatting is changed to match the existing table.

Smart Style Behavior ignore this choice – it has no effect.   For some reason, Microsoft hasn’t removed or hidden this choice.  Seriously, it doesn’t nothing and that’s confirmed by Microsoft.  It’s an old option that has now been superceded by the choices at Options | Advanced | Copy, Paste.

Merge Formatting when Pasting from Microsoft PowerPoint. Word use the formatting of text already in Word to the pasted text from PowerPoint.  Pasting lists, Word’s most recently used bullet, number, or list style is.  Links, tables, images etc. retained their PowerPoint formatting.

Adjust Formatting when Pasting from Microsoft Excel. Excel data and charts pasted into a Word table are pasted as pictures.  Leave it off to get the standard pasting behaviors (including OLE linked items).

Merge Pasted Lists with Surrounding Lists.   If you paste into an existing list, the text will be reformatted to match the existing list.

Copying/Moving Footnotes or Endnotes in Word
Paste tricks and tips for Microsoft Word

About this author

Office Watch is the independent source of Microsoft Office news, tips and help since 1996. Don't miss our famous free newsletter.