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Make Microsoft Word Always Use Plain Text for Pasted Text

Are you tired of pasting text into Word, only to find that the pasted text included colors, formatting, links, and more from its original source?  Here’s how you can keep pasted text from messing up your documents.

By default, Word will keep the formatting of text and other content you past into a document, including links, colors, size, font, and more.  This can be annoying at best and at worst, can mess up the other formatting in your document.

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If you copied a large amount of text or images from a site, or if your internet connection happens to be slow, Word may even freeze temporarily while it’s retrieving and pasting the content.  That’s no fun.

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Word does have one saving feature: you can click the little popup under pasted text and select Plain Text to get just the text and none of the formatting.  However, that’s 2 extra clicks.  If you just want to paste the text, and nothing else, you’ll want to change the default setting.  Thankfully, it’s  easy.  If you just pasted text, just click the popup and select Set Default Paste.

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Alternately, open the Options pane in Word manually from the File backstage menu or the Office orb in Word 2007.

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Select the Advanced tab, then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste settings section.

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Here you can change a wide variety of pasting options.  To switch to pasting text only by default, select Keep Text Only in the drop-down menus.  You can change the settings for all options, or just change the ones you wish.  We often want to keep the formatting if we’re pasting within the same document, so we left the first option at default, then switched all the others to Keep Text Only.

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Once you’ve changed the settings, try pasting some text to make sure it works right.  Now it should just paste the text, even if your paste included an image, link, or other text formatting.  This is great for the default setting, and makes everything much quicker.

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Or, if you decide you want to include the formatting, links, or other content from the paste, just click the popup and select Keep Source Formatting.  This way, you’ll only have to click extra if you need the extra content.

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Now you can save time and get just the text you want from websites, other programs, and more without waiting for a large paste and taking the time to tweak it.

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 10/20/10

Comments (21)

  1. zainulfranciscus

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the tip. This will really help me when I am working on my assignments and essays =)

  2. mikycomputers

    nice thing, thanks

  3. thenonhacker

    I use PureText, which makes WIN+V paste unformatted text in ANY app. :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PureText
    http://stevemiller.net/puretext/

  4. John Horne

    Thank you so much – I had no idea these options existed!

  5. Jeff

    Thanks. That has always annoyed me.

  6. tyros

    thanks, that annoyed me as well

  7. Roel

    Thanks so much! I’ve been frustrated and annoyed for years by having to the past as… menu choices and you have made me see the light now!

  8. Awesome

    Excellent Tip!

    I always had to use notepad to purge the formating before I copypasta’d into the document.

  9. Erik

    Great tip, thank you very much!
    I never understood why this not the default setting in Word.

  10. Victor Ward

    I changed the settings in Word and it works perfectly. However, when I compose a message in Outlook the pasted text is not changed. I thought that Outlook used Word as it’s message editor so what gives?

  11. Matthew Guay

    @Victor Ward – I just checked … looks like the same settings are in the Outlook editor, but they aren’t synced with Word. So, you’ll need to change them in both places. I should have checked and mentioned that in the articles.

  12. André

    Is there a solution for Word on the Mac?

  13. Matthew Guay

    @André – There’s a workaround you can try … http://www.esquiremac.com/2009/12/paste-unformatted-text-slightly-more-easily-in-word-2008/. Not as simple as the Windows version, but should help!

  14. Matthew Guay

    @André – Alternately, when you paste text, just click the clipboard icon that appears under the text, and select “Keep Text Only”, like in this screenshot: http://bit.ly/a8HsUe. It doesn’t look like you can set that by default, though.

  15. André

    Yeah!

    http://blog.mackerron.com/2009/05/paste-unformatted-keyboard-shortcut-office-2008-mac/

    Save this as something like ‘Paste me \cV.scpt’ into ‘Word Script Menu Items’ and Cmd-V does exactly what you would like to expect.

    Greets from Lucerne &
    thank you Matthew

  16. Bob J.

    this did not help me.

  17. guest

    This doesn’t work for me. Half of the time I still get all sorts of formatting included in the paste.

  18. diana

    This used to work great, but now MS word is default pasting as html, not unformatted text. I checked to make sure the options were still as I had them before and they are – I’ve chosen “Keep Text Only”, but it doesn’t work. I still find myself having to use Paste Special – Unformatted Text all the time. So much for saving clicks. I hope Microsoft fixes this option back to the way it was.

  19. Vin

    mac word is such a piece of shit, there is no options for it. SIMPLE? you can do things in fewer steps? go frank yourself mac word!

  20. JP Rao

    How can we achive this in VBA script with Word ?
    I want to copy few reference text and paste them as normal text using VBA macros. Please help me.

  21. Power User

    In order to work this, you must keep the “Show Paste Options buttons” or else it won’t work

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