We recently covered the basics of cutting, copying, and pasting in Microsoft Word. Today, we’re going to expand on that topic by looking at how to use the Clipboard in Microsoft Word.
Specifically, we will copy, paste, and delete content in the Clipboard. Plus, we will customize the options and turn off the Clipboard.
- How to Copy Content into the Clipboard
- How to Paste Content from the Clipboard
- How to Delete Content in the Clipboard
- How to Customize the Clipboard Options
- How to Turn Off the Clipboard
First, let’s answer an important question…
What Is the Difference between Basic Copying and Pasting and Using the Clipboard?
Your PC has two clipboards: the Windows Clipboard and the Office Clipboard.
The basic copy and paste methods use the Windows Clipboard, which lets you copy one piece of content at a time—as soon as you copy a new piece of content, the old piece is deleted.
In contrast, the Office Clipboard in Microsoft Word is divided into slots where you can copy up to twenty-four different pieces of content and then paste them individually or all at once.
It’s important to note that the content in the top slot in the Office Clipboard is the same as the content in the Windows Clipboard.
For simplicity, all references to the “Clipboard” in the steps below refer to the Office Clipboard, not the Windows Clipboard.
Pro Tip: The Office Clipboard is accessible to all your Office apps. So, if you copy content to the Clipboard in Word and then open the Clipboard in PowerPoint, you will have access to the same copied content in each of the twenty-four slots.
This tutorial is also available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than 100 other writing-related software tutorials on my YouTube channel.
The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365. These steps also apply to Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013. These steps don’t apply to Word for Mac or Word for the Web.
How to Copy Content into the Clipboard
- Select the Home tab in the ribbon.
- Select the dialog box launcher in the Clipboard group.
The Clipboard pane will open on the left side of your screen.
- Select the content you want to copy and then use the Copy button in the ribbon or press Ctrl + C on your keyboard. You can copy text, images, tables, figures, or even embedded videos.
The content you copied will appear in the Clipboard.
- Continue to copy content as necessary. Each time you copy new content, it will be placed in the top slot in the Clipboard.
How to Paste Content from the Clipboard
- Place your cursor where you want to paste the content.
- Select an individual item in the Clipboard. Alternatively, hover over it to select the menu arrow and then select Paste from the drop-down menu.
- (Alternative Step) Select the Paste All button to paste all the content. The content will be inserted in the order you copied it, so the top item in the Clipboard will be the last item pasted into your document.
- (Optional) Select the Paste Options button that appears after you paste your content.
- Select an option from the shortcut menu. These options primarily apply to text rather than images or other visuals.
A. Keep Source Formatting maintains the formatting (e.g., font, size, color, etc.) of the pasted text.
B. Merge Formatting changes the formatting of the pasted text to match the formatting of the new location without removing existing emphasis formatting (i.e., boldness, italics, or underlining) from the pasted text.
C. Use Destination Style maintains the current style type but matches it to the equivalent style type in the new location. So, if you copy text with a default Heading 3 style and then paste it into document with a custom Heading 3 style, the pasted text will still be a Heading 3, but will take on the new custom style.
You may notice that when the Clipboard is turned off, Paste as Picture appears instead of Use Destination Style in the Paste Options menu in Word for Microsoft 365.
D. Keep Text Only removes the formatting of the pasted text and adds the formatting of the new location.
Please see “What Is the Difference between Merge Formatting and Keep Text Only?” for more information about these options.
Your pasted text should change formatting according to your selection.
Important Note: You must use the Paste Options button immediately after pasting your text because it will disappear when you perform another action such as typing or pressing the Enter key.
How to Delete Content in the Clipboard
- To delete all the content from the clipboard, select the Clear All button.
- To delete individual items, hover your cursor over the content, select the menu arrow, and then select Delete from the drop-down menu.
How to Customize the Clipboard Options
- Select the Options button at the bottom of the Clipboard.
- Check or uncheck options in the menu:
- Show Office Clipboard Automatically opens the Clipboard every time you copy content.
- Show Office Clipboard When Ctrl + C Pressed Twice opens the Clipboard when you press Ctrl + C on your keyboard twice.
- Collect Without Showing Office Clipboard lets you copy content into the Clipboard without opening it. (However, you can still open it by pressing the dialog box launcher in the Clipboard group, as shown in figure 3.)
- Show Office Clipboard Icon on Taskbar places the Clipboard icon (a tiny clipboard) in the Taskbar at the bottom of your screen. The icon may be placed in the Hidden Icons menu accessible through the up arrow near the Wi-Fi, sound, and battery icons.
- Show Status Near Taskbar When Copying reveals a small message in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen when you copy new content. The message will tell you the number of slots that have been filled (e.g., 3 of 24).
How to Turn Off the Clipboard
The Clipboard will turn off when you close all your Office apps (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint).
However, you may want to turn it off before closing your apps. Unfortunately, the close button (X) doesn’t turn off the Clipboard; it just closes the Clipboard pane. The Clipboard will continue to collect copied content even when the pane is closed.
To turn off the Clipboard and return to the basic copying and pasting method, use the icon in the Taskbar.
- Right-click the Clipboard icon in the Taskbar. (Friendly reminder: it may be stored in the Hidden Icons menu behind the up arrow.)
- Select Stop Collecting from the menu.
The Clipboard icon should be removed from your Taskbar after a few moments.