Tips on copying and pasting between different text documents


Word processing apps are numerous. MS word, which is always included with MS Office, is a popular application. However it has many challengers for market share and the latest ones pose more of a market share threat than ever before. These are browser extension apps like Google Docs. They have their advantages and their disadvantages. However that is another discussion for another time. Right now the focus here is on copying and pasting between text documents, whether managed by the same application, or a different one.

Word processing applications add a lot of unseen code in with the text being copied. This ensures that when pasted, it will retain the same styling. The styling code comes across with it. However that is not always desirable. Some times we want the pasted text to take on the style of the paragraph or document it is being pasted into.

  1. Pasting into a different document conforming to the target document formatting style.
  2. Pasting into a different document bringing the formatting to the target document.

Which do you desire?

Good word processors will provide paste options for you to choose from. Here are a few popular word processors with tips on how to access these option.

MS Word:

Unfortunately MS word is notorious for changing things from one release to the next. This makes it necessary to continually relearn the techniques we get used to. So this method of control changes with different updates of MS Word. Here is a link to the Word 2010 method: See

Google Docs:

Google docs is part of a new “in Browser” application trend. As such functionality is often related to the browser being used rather than the application program (app).

Google Docs in common browsers: See

For PC: Try the paste shortcuts [ctrl] + [shft] + [v] rather than just [ctrl] + [v] to paste without brining over any formatting style.

For Mac: Try the paste shortcuts [cmd] + [shft] + [v] rather than just [cmd] + [v] to paste without brining over any formatting style.

Working with Google Docs in the Safari browser requires a slightly different shortcut key combination.

Try [cmd] + [shft] + [optn] + [v] (Mac), or [ctrl] + [shft] + [alt] (PCs).


When pasting one document to another, such as a document to a template cover sheet, you can either paste the document to the cover sheet, or paste a copy of the cover sheet to the document, depending on which document style you wish to dominate. When pasting, unless you observe the advice above, the target document may try to impose its formatting style on the document being pasted to it, however that document may bring with it some formatting style of its own. The default of which one dominates is set in the application and may not be user definable. However the options for pasting above, will override the application defaults.

Editing using an ipad or iphone:


Researched and written by Gavin Lardner CC BY, 2016.


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