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Moving and Copying Text and Objects

Perhaps the most important benefit of word processing over typewriter use is the ability to move and copy objects and blocks of text. There are many ways of accomplishing move and copy operations in Word, so you can select whatever method is most comfortable for you or makes the most sense in a particular situation. The following sections explain the various move and copy operations and the differences between them.

Moving or Copying Text with Drag-and-Drop

Drag-and-drop operations are popular because they most closely resemble the way you do things outside the computer. (Yes, there really is a life outside the computer!) When you want to move something in your living room, you pick it up and reposition it. Or if it's heavy, like a piece of furniture, you drag it and drop it. You can do the same thing with objects and with blocks of selected text in Word.

For a standard drag-and-drop operation, follow these steps:

  1. Select the text or object(s) you want to move or copy.
  2. (Optional) To copy, hold down the Ctrl key. You don't have to hold anything down if you want to move.
  3. Position the mouse over the selection, and then click and hold down the left mouse button on it.
  4. Still holding down the left mouse button, drag the selection to a new location. Then release the mouse button.

There are additional drag-and-drop options; to see them, use the right mouse button rather than the left one in the preceding steps. (Don't hold down the Ctrl key if you are using the right mouse button.) When you release the mouse button in step 4, a shortcut menu appears with these choices on it:

  • Move Here—The default operation; the same as regular dragging with the left mouse button.
  • Copy Here—The same as holding down the Ctrl key with the left-mouse-button drag.
  • Link Here—Creates a copy that retains a link to the original location, such that if the original changes, this copy changes too.
  • Cancel—Cancels the current drag-and-drop operation.

Using Cut, Copy, and Paste

One of the complaints that many people have with drag-and-drop is that they are simply not coordinated enough to manage positioning the mouse pointer in exactly the right spot while holding down keys and mouse buttons. People who have this problem may prefer to use the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands instead.

Cut and Copy are very similar operations. Cut removes the selection from the document and places it on the Clipboard, which is a hidden holding area; Copy leaves the selection as is and places a copy of it on the Clipboard. After a Cut or Copy operation, you can then use Paste to place the Clipboard's content at the insertion point location.

Word offers ribbon, keyboard, and right-click methods for issuing the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands. Table 3.5 summarizes them.

Table 3.5. Cut, Copy, and Paste Methods




Click these buttons on the Home tab:




Press these shortcut keys:




Right-click your selection and then choose one of these commands:




Pasting with Paste Special

The Paste Special command enables you to define the format of the pasted copy, and in some circumstances also create a dynamic link to the original.

To use Paste Special instead of Paste, open the drop-down menu below the Paste button and select Paste Special from that menu, as in Figure 3.9.

Figure 3.9

Figure 3.9 Select Paste Special from the Paste button's options.

Doing so opens the Paste Special dialog box, shown in Figure 3.10.

Figure 3.10

Figure 3.10 Use the Paste Special dialog box to paste in a different way than the default.

For a normal (nonlinked) paste, select a paste format from the As list. The choices on the list depend on the type of content you cut or copied. For example, if you copied some text from another document that had some unusual formatting, you could choose to keep that formatting by selecting Formatted Text (RTF), or you could choose to discard that formatting by selecting Unformatted Text.

Pasting in a format whose name ends with "Object" creates an embedded copy that retains its link to the original program. This is not especially relevant for copying text within and between Word documents because the original program is Word itself, but it makes a difference when copying multimedia content, such as graphics from a graphics program, into Word, for example. When you choose an "Object" format, the selection is placed in its own separate frame from the rest of the document, and you can edit that object in its native program later by double-clicking it.

Under some circumstances, a Paste Link option is also available. For Paste Link to be available, the selection must have been copied from some other document or file than the one in which it is being pasted, and the document/file from which it came must have been saved at least once (so it has a filename, not just the generic "Document1" name a file gets before it is saved). Paste Link creates a dynamic link between the original and the copy so that when the original changes, the copy also changes.

To learn more about linking and embedding, see "Embedding Data," p. 615 and "Linking to Data in Other Files," p. 620.

Using Paste Options

After you have pasted something in Word, a Paste Options button appears next to it. You can click this button to open a menu of choices governing the paste operation, as shown in Figure 3.11. Here are the choices:

  • Keep Source Formatting—The object retains its look from its original location.
  • Match Destination Formatting—The object is stripped of any previous formatting and the formatting of the new location is applied.
  • Keep Text Only—The object is stripped of any previous formatting and remains stripped in the new location.
Figure 3.11

Figure 3.11 Choose options for the paste operation just performed.

The Set Default Paste command opens the Word Options dialog box (same as Office, Word Options) and displays the Advanced options. From here you can set a variety of paste options in the Cut, Copy, and Paste section, as shown in Figure 3.12:

  • Pasting Within the Same Document—Choose how formatting is applied to the copy when copying within a document. You can choose Keep Source Formatting, Match Destination Formatting, or Keep Text Only.
  • Pasting Between Documents—Choose how formatting is applied to the copy when styles are not an issue (for example, when both the source and destination use the same style defined the same way).
  • Pasting Between Documents When Style Definitions Conflict—Choose how formatting is applied to the copy when you are copying between documents and the style applied in the source document differs from that applied at the insertion point location in the destination document.
  • Pasting From Other Programs—Choose how formatting is applied to the copy when the text is coming from some other application than Word.
  • Insert/Paste Pictures As—Choose how non-text objects are placed in the document. In Line with Text means the object is treated as a text character at the insertion point, and will move with the surrounding text. The other options are all various wrapping settings for floating objects.
Figure 3.12

Figure 3.12 Paste options are controlled in the Word Options dialog box.

For more on picture/text wrap settings, see "Setting Text Wrap Properties," p. 402.

  • Keep Bullets and Numbers When Pasting Text with Keep Text Only Option—Just like the name says. If you have set one of the previous settings to Keep Text Only, but you are copying a bulleted or numbered list, this setting determines whether the bullet or number is preserved.
  • Use the Insert key for Paste—Mark this if you want the Insert (Ins) key on the keyboard to be remapped to be a shortcut for the Paste command. This check box is paired with the Use the INS Key to Control Overtype Mode check box (on the same tab); only one or the other can be chosen at once.
  • Show Paste Options Buttons—Clear this check box if you don't want that Paste Options button to appear next to pasted selections. (Sometimes it can get in the way.)
  • Use Smart Cut and Paste—Enables Word to apply a rather complex set of rules to determine how selections should be pasted. To fine-tune these rules, click the Settings button to display the Settings dialog box (see Figure 3.13). Note that you can choose default options for Word 2002-2007 or for Word 97-2000, or go your own way with custom settings.
    Figure 3.13

    Figure 3.13 Fine-tune the paste options here.

Using the Office Clipboard

The Office Clipboard is an expanded version of the Windows Clipboard. It can hold up to 24 selections, and you can choose which item to paste with each operation.

To access any clips other than the last one stored, you must display the Office Clipboard task pane. To view the Office Clipboard task pane, click the dialog box launcher for the Clipboard group on the Home tab.

The Office Clipboard appears to the left of the main document window, as shown in Figure 3.14.

Figure 3.14

Figure 3.14 Use the Clipboard task pane to access the Office Clipboard's 24 separate areas for storing clips.

Each time you copy something to the Clipboard, it is added to the Clipboard task pane's list, with the most recently added items at the top. To paste an item from it, position the insertion point and then click that item in the Clipboard task pane. To paste all the items at once, click Paste All.

To remove a single item from the Clipboard task pane, right-click the item and click Delete (see Figure 3.15). (Alternatively, you can point at the item until a down arrow appears to its right. Click that down arrow to open the same menu as with right-clicking; then click Delete.)

Figure 3.15

Figure 3.15 Delete an item from the Clipboard.

To clear the entire Clipboard at once, click the Clear All button at the top. Clearing the Office Clipboard also clears the Windows Clipboard.

To fine-tune how the Office Clipboard works, click the Options button. A menu appears with these options on it:

  • Show Office Clipboard Automatically—Displays the Office Clipboard automatically when copying items.
  • Show Office Clipboard when Ctrl+C Pressed Twice—Displays the Office Clipboard when Ctrl+C is pressed twice.
  • Collect Without Showing Office Clipboard—Copies items to the Office Clipboard but does not show the task pane unless you specifically call for it (by pressing Ctrl+C twice, for example).
  • Show Office Clipboard Icon on Taskbar—Displays an Office Clipboard icon in the notification area of the taskbar (near the clock) whenever the Office Clipboard is active. You can double-click that icon to display the Office Clipboard in the active application. (Remember, all Office apps share the Office Clipboard.)
  • Show Status Near Taskbar When Copying—Pops up a message near the Office Clipboard icon when something has just been copied to the Clipboard.
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