Simple things like copy & paste

By Stuart J Stuple

One of the things that I love about Word 2007 is that many existing features are becoming easier to find and easier to use. The thing I find most challenging about my job and the particular areas in which I work is that if features are designed and implemented well, they fade into the background. A good example of that (which I can’t take credit for) is the spelling autocorrect, which silently corrects simple typing mistakes such as “teh” or “adn.”

For the most part, copying and pasting text from one place to another works like that. You never notice when it gets it right. But, pasting content really isn’t simple as anyone who has ever looked at the variety of options available under the Paste Special command has probably realized. In cases like this, our goal is to figure out the outcome that is usually desired and make that the default. From there, we may do work to make sure that the most common alternatives are easy to find.

And with pasting, that’s where noticing a feature that was introduced a few versions ago comes in handy. Every time that you paste in Word, an icon appears at the lower left edge of the pasted content.

This little control unlocks a world of options that makes pasting content with the “right” formatting for the particular situation a simpler task. When you click on the control (or press Shift+F10), a menu of alternative ways of pasting that content is displayed.

The choices that are available on this menu depend upon the type of content being pasted. For most content, the “Keep Text Only” option is always available and is useful for removing any formatting and using the formatting where you are pasting. Matching Destination Formatting is very similar to Keep Text Only but some emphasis (such as bold or italic) is preserved.

Pasting with style

With Word styles, an additional option may become available when copying from one document to another and when the styles that you using are defined differently in the two documents. In that case, we offer one additional choice—continue to use the styles but update the look to match where you are pasting—and that becomes the default. Keep Source Formatting is still available as an option and does the same thing it does normally—preserves the look of the source, removing style definitions as necessary. Note that if the style you are copying is not used in the document into which you are pasting, we go ahead just copy that style definition into the document as part of Keep Source Formatting.

With improvements to both Excel and PowerPoint this version, it is possible to create tables in those applications that include graphic effects that cannot be created in Word. Because of that, the choices on the paste option menu have been updated to include the ability to include a picture of the table. (Don’t worry; we’re planning to do the work to let you do the same sort of effects in Word but that’s going to be in a future version.)

Changing your defaults

Word 2007 now allows you to decide what the default paste option should be for the three most types of pasted content—general text coming from another application, text pasted from Word where there is no style conflict (the most common case), and text pasted from one Word document to another where there is a style conflict. You can use the Set Default Paste command to navigate to these options on the Advanced tab of the Word Options dialog.

One other change that has happened with paste is how we handle pasting headings or other content into the middle of an existing paragraph. In most cases, if you have included the paragraph mark at the end of a selection, then when you paste we also insert a paragraph mark before the pasted content. This means that if you paste a heading into the middle of a paragraph, we split the paragraph into two sections and add the heading between the two. If that’s not what you want, then you can move to the start of the pasted text and press the backspace key. So far, hardly anyone has noticed and that’s the greatest praise for most of our features.