Word 2011: Now includes a proper ‘Paste Without Formatting’ command

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
November 12th, 2010 • 6:10 pm

I keep writing all kinds of nasty things about Microsoft’s products for Mac OS X, so I guess it is only fair that I should write something (a little something) when Microsoft does finally do something right and includes something that is actually a significant improvement over previous versions.

For years, I have been complaining about the fact that Word did not include a proper “Paste Without Formatting” command for pasting copied text without its rich text formatting (bold, italics, colour, font face, etc.).

Word did have a way to paste unformatted text, but it was very convoluted (you had to bring up the “Paste Special…” modal dialog box and then select the appropriate option) and it suffered from substantial flaws and bugs. In particular:

  • Pasting unformatted text would strip not only the formatting, but also some special characters, including the non-breaking space, which was replaced with a regular space. This was a major annoyance for French writers, since the non-breaking space is such an essential part of French typography.
  • Pasting unformatted text would also convert text in small caps to all caps, even though small caps is a formatting option applied to text in mixed case (there is a difference between an upper-case letter and a lower-case letter in small caps!) and stripping the formatting should revert the text to the underlying mix of lower case and upper case.
  • Pasting unformatted text would also add spurious “OLE_LINK” bookmarks to the source of the copied text, which was a major source of annoyance for me, until Peter Lewis of Stairways Software came to my rescue and provided a workaround using Keyboard Maestro that would not insert the unwanted bookmarks. (It took quite a bit of work for Peter to find the right way to extract the desired text from the Clipboard without triggering the bug in Word, and it’s to Peter’s credit that he took the time to work around this bug in Microsoft’s software.)

Well, I am very pleased to report that, in Word 2011, Microsoft has finally added a menu command to paste unformatted text to the “Edit” menu. It called “Paste and Match Formatting” (to be compared to “Paste and Match Style” in Pages ’09) and also has the right conventional keyboard shortcut, i.e. command-shift-option-V:

Paste and Match Formatting

In addition, this menu command is not just a single command for the existing multistep process for pasting unformatted text through the “Paste Special…” dialog box. It’s actually a new internal command in Word, called PasteDestinationFormatting, as you’ll see if you explore Word’s list of internal commands through its customization features.

And yes, this new command also fixes the other problems mentioned above. As far as I can tell, pasting the Clipboard with “Paste and Match Formatting” does not replace the non-breaking spaces with regular spaces, it does not replace small caps with all caps and it does not cause the insertion of spurious OLE_LINK bookmarks. It’s also much faster than the previous command that you could create with a VBA script or an AppleScript script assigned to a menu command, keyboard shortcut or toolbar button, which would always take nearly a second.

As far as I can tell, there are no hidden costs in this improvement so, for once, thanks (honestly) Microsoft!


One Response to “Word 2011: Now includes a proper ‘Paste Without Formatting’ command”

  1. Betalogue » Word 2011: Formatting when cutting and pasting paragraphs says:

    [...] that no ordinary user can ever be expected to fathom, which is why, whenever I can, I use the “Paste Without Formatting” command, even though — this is Microsoft Word we are talking about here — its implementation [...]