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Chapter 3. Editing Documents > Moving and Copying Text

Moving and Copying Text

Now that you have selected text, you might be thinking, “Okay, now what?” As you read through this book, you’ll learn dozens of things that you can do with selected text. One of the most basic functions you will probably use is to move or copy text. If you move the text, deleting it from the original location and placing it somewhere else, you are cutting and pasting text. When you make a copy of the text, leaving a copy in the original location and placing the new copy in a different place, you are copying and pasting text.


When you move the mouse pointer into the left margin, the pointer reverses direction and points to the right (instead of the regular left-facing pointer). When you see this special pointer, you can click to select a line or double-click to select a paragraph.

When you cut or copy a section of text, it is moved to the Windows Clipboard, which holds the cut or copied sections until you are ready to paste them. Because the Clipboard is Windows-based, you can use it in all Windows applications, not just Word. You’ll learn how to use the Clipboard to cut and copy information between programs in Chapter 12, “Using Data from Other Sources.”

One thing that makes Word so popular is that you can choose from a number of different methods to accomplish the same result. There are several different ways to cut or copy and paste selected text. The different alternatives are listed here. Generally, the basic steps to copy and move are as follows:

Select the text you want to copy or move.

Copy (or cut) the selected text.

Reposition the insertion point at the target location.

Paste the text you copied (or cut).

Some methods for copying, cutting, and pasting text work better in certain situations. For example, if your hands are already on the keyboard, the keyboard methods might be more convenient. Others prefer to use the mouse. Experiment with the different methods and find your favorites.

To copy selected text, perform one of the following actions:

  • Click the Copy button.

  • Choose Edit, Copy.

  • Right-click the selected text and choose Copy.

  • Press Ctrl+C.

  • Press Ctrl+Insert.

To cut selected text, perform one of the following actions:

  • Click the Cut button.

  • Choose Edit, Cut.

  • Right-click the selection and choose Cut.

  • Press Ctrl+X.

  • Press Shift+Delete.

To paste selected text, perform one of the following actions:

  • Click the Paste button.

  • Choose Edit, Paste.

  • Right-click in the document and choose Paste.

  • Press Ctrl+V.

  • Press Shift+Insert.


If you cut or copy more than one section of text during a Word session, a special Clipboard task pane appears when you paste text. The last several sections of text that you cut or copied to the Clipboard are shown in a list. Click an item to paste that section of text at the insertion point. To view the Clipboard task pane at any time, choose Edit, Office Clipboard, or press Ctrl+C twice.

If you prefer, you can also use the mouse to drag selected text from one location and drop it in another. The drag-and-drop method works best if you are moving or copying text within the document window. When you have to scroll up or down, the process becomes a little tricky.


If you don’t see the Cut, Copy, or Paste buttons on the toolbar, you can select them from a palette of additional toolbar buttons. On the Standard toolbar, click the down arrow on the right side of the toolbar to open the palette of additional buttons. Click the button that you need. That button is added to the toolbar so you will have quick access to it next time. If you don’t see the button you’re looking for, choose Add or Remove Buttons and then select Standard or Formatting.

To drag and drop text, do the following:

Select the text you want to move or copy.

Position the mouse pointer on the highlighted text. The pointer changes to an arrow.

If you want to move the text, click and hold down the mouse button; if you want to copy the text, hold down the Ctrl key before you click and hold down the mouse button.

Drag the mouse to the target location. The mouse pointer changes to an arrow along with a small rectangular box (see Figure 3.2). An insertion point also appears showing you exactly where the text will be inserted when you release the mouse button.

Figure 3.2. You can use the mouse to move selected text with drag and drop.

Release the mouse button.

The text is still selected, so if you didn’t get the text right where you wanted it, click and drag it again.

When you have the selection where you want it, click in the document window to deselect the text.


If you are copying a selection, you’ll see a box with a plus sign in it attached to the move/copy pointer. This is a nice touch because if you don’t see the plus sign, you’ll know that you are moving the selection, not copying it.

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