How to Strip Formatting When Copying and Pasting from Word

By Mary Warner posted 08-29-2023 08:40 AM


Most of us who use Microsoft Word have been there. We type up a document, then want to copy and paste it into another platform, like a blog post such as this, and the formatting goes with it. Only, the formatting doesn’t seem to work properly on the new platform and ends up looking wonky.

How can you strip the formatting out of a Word document to prevent this from happening?

I have been known to manually strip the formatting code in platforms such as WordPress by visiting the HTML screen, but this is teeeeeedious. 

If you’ve never seen what this looks like, here is the code within the communities’ blogging platform:

My preferred method has been to open up Notepad on my computer and copy and paste my Word document into it, where it is stripped of its formatting. Then I can copy and paste from Notepad into another platform.

To find Notepad on a Windows computer, open your Windows icon. Navigate to Windows Accessories and click on the drop-down menu. Notepad will be located in the menu.

This is not the fastest way to strip formatting from Word, however. There is a keyboard shortcut that I just learned about that feels like magic to me:


Copy your Word document as you normally would, then select the Ctrl, Shift and V keys at the same time when pasting into the new document or platform. This works on Windows only. (You may be familiar with Ctrl + V for pasting, like I was, so it may take a minute to retrain your fingers to add the Shift key.)

For Mac, the keyboard combination is Option + Cmd + Shift + V. As I don’t have a Mac, I could not confirm this myself, so let me know if this works in the comments.

There is supposed to be a way to set the default settings in Word so that they automatically paste text without having to use Notepad or keyboard shortcuts, but this didn’t work for me with this blog post.

Go into File and select Options. (Circled in orange below.)

On the window that opens, select Advanced and scroll to the options for Cut, copy, and paste.

I opened the drop-down menu for pasting between documents and selected Keep Text Only. 

When I tried to copy and paste from Word into this blog post, all of the formatting remained. 

I also tried changing the other paste settings to Keep Text Only, but none of them worked to automatically strip the formatting from Word upon pasting into this blog post.

I can see where trying to paste text formatted in a different application could have its formatting stripped before plopping it into Word (see pasting from other programs below), but not vice versa. 

If anyone knows the Word settings that will manage this automatically (in either Windows or Mac), please let me know.

Until then, Ctrl + Shift + V will become my best friend.


Addendum - September 1, 2023 - Pasting Into Word from Another Document

My MSBA colleague, Jennifer Wallace, shared with me a tip for stripping the formatting when pasting from another source into Word on a Mac. When you right-click at the end of what you've pasted into Word, you are given several pasting options, including Keep Text Only. 

She suggested I try right-clicking in Word on my PC to see if I had this same option. 

When right-clicking after selecting some text, I get an entire menu of options. I've often used this to reformat the text (bold, italics, font color, etc.), but I had never looked for pasting options before. Turns out, they've been there all along! (Click your shoes three times, Dorothy .... 👠😄)





08-31-2023 07:46 AM

You're welcome, Andrew! I never cease to be amazed at all the quick tools built into our computers that take me so long to learn about. 😊 (Like the Windows icon + period to bring up the emoji screen!)

08-30-2023 04:16 PM

I had no idea it could be so easy. As a (former) Notepad-er myself, thanks so much for sharing this tip.