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Copy and Paste in Outlook Without Messing Up Your Formatting

Often times you will need to copy and paste text into an email from various sources. By default Outlook keeps the formatting of whatever it is that you are pasting instead of the formatting of the email you are composing. Here is a quick tip on how to change that behavior.

Change Copy and Paste Options

This tip should work for Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010 and probably most older and newer versions. This fix will only apply to emails that are being composed in HTML or Rich text. The first thing you need to do is open up Outlook and got to the Tools menu, then select options.

Click on the mail format tab and then editor options.

Next click on the advanced options on the left.

Scroll down a little ways and you will see the cut, copy, and paste options. Drop down each option and select match destination formatting or keep text only.

You can also click on the smart cut and paste options to fine tune your pasting.

Now whenever you copy and paste in an email your formatting should stay the same as your original email instead of whatever the original source formatting was.

Justin is a Linux and HTPC enthusiast who loves to try new projects. He isn't scared of bricking a cell phone in the name of freedom.

  • Published 09/14/10

Comments (16)

  1. Nanty

    A pity, it does not work for my windows 2003.

  2. Amit

    Very nice trick and very useful too :)

  3. Dermot Harrington

    There are no ‘Editor Options’ at the bottom of the Mail Format tag in Outlook 2003

  4. Nanty

    That’s what I meant too.

  5. Michael

    Doesn’t work in Office 2003. Maybe there is another way in Office 2003 to do the same. Anybody have any suggestions?

  6. Liam

    Also looking for outlook 2003 options (especially if not using Word as editor. Huge system drag)
    Closest I have so far is to select the pasted text and type Ctrl-Space. Seems to wipe all extra formatting and I’m left with the default.

  7. CRS

    There’s definitely a way for Outlook 2003 users to get it to work. It’s called upgrading.

  8. Justin Garrison

    @CRS that’s harsh.

    I will look into Outlook 2003 but I am pretty sure this option was added in 2007. If I find anything expect another how to article. (or possibly an update to this one.

  9. Marco Polo

    Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for! It works flawlessly in MS Office 2007. Thanks again.

  10. JGD

    You should have base this “howto” on the latest Outlook – Outlook 2010. It took me while to find how to do this…

  11. Dean Miller

    Would be great if this could be done in 2003 – eagerly awaiting an update! :-)

  12. Trevor Hayes

    In 2010: File tab, select options, mail, editor options, advanced, then it’s under “cut, copy, and paste”.

    Note that these settings only seem to apply to new emails you write. If you reply to an email it ignores all your settings and still screws up your formatting so its value is pretty limited.

  13. Trish Morfitt

    Googling an issue I have and came across this – I’ve reset my defaults to “keep source formatting” on all accounts, and it still reverts anything I copy and paste to Calibri size 11.

    Any suggestions as to why it’s ignoring the defaults I set?! It’s getting quite annoying!

  14. DJ Ice

    If you have Outlook 2003, the only option you have (that I know of) is to choose a formatting style after you have pasted whatever you copied. To do that, after you paste it into your e-mail, select the portion you pasted (or you can use ctrl-A to select everything), Select “Style” from the “Format” dropdown and click on a format. Default I believe is normal. That should make everything look normal so you don’t have giant gaps between lines.

  15. Herter

    After posting text into the email you can click the little briefcase that appears and choose “Use same format as destination” or something along those lines.. works like a charm :)

  16. -DC-

    The little briefcase doesn’t always appear when replying to an e-mail pasting in 2003. I’ve had to resort to pasting the text into notepad or some other text-only area to remove the formatting, then copying it back again. PITA.

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