Word 2010: Keyboard shortcut to paste unformatted text

November 21, 2012

In Word 2003 and 2007, you couldn’t easily paste copied text as unformatted text. You either had to go through several clicks in the the menus, or set up a macro and assign a keyboard shortcut to it (see this blog post for how to do this in Word 2003/2007: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/word-keyboard-shortcut-to-paste-unformatted-text/).

However, in Word 2010 you don’t have to do any of that as there’s a quick and easy way to paste as unformatted text using the keyboard. Laura alerted me to it in her 13 November 2012 comment on the Word 2003/2007 post above, and, with some more help a few days later from Xuberi, I finally got it!

To paste copied text as unformatted text in Word 2010 using the keyboard:

  1. Press Ctrl+v to copy the text into your document.
  2. Press and then release Ctrl to activate the Paste Options icon.
  3. Press t to select the ‘Text only’ option (pressing t is a separate action to pressing Ctrl in step 2 — DO NOT press them together otherwise it won’t work).

More detailed explanation:

What happens in Word 2010 when you press Ctrl+v (Step 1) is that you get the Paste Options icon, and it has (Ctrl) next to it, indicating that the Ctrl key activates the options (you don’t get this in Word 2003 or 2007):

So when you press and release Ctrl (step 2 above), the Paste Options display:

Now you press the key for the paste option you want — hover over each option’s icon to see which key activates it:

The keyboard options are:

  • H — Use destination theme
  • K — Keep source formatting
  • M — Merge formatting
  • T — Keep text only (the unformatted text option).

See also:

[Links last checked November 2012]


  1. […] by Word 2010: Keyboard shortcut to paste unformatted text « CyberText Newsletter November 21, 2012 at 5:31 […]

  2. Wonderful and thorough – thanks so much, Rhonda!

  3. The paste options are also available if you right mouse, which is handy if you are switching between applications or if you have some other intervening action.

  4. Thanks for the tip, Rhonda. I was vaguely aware of the new behaviour of Ctrl-v in Word but hadn’t looked into it. It is an advance over Alt e s u (which still works, BTW).

    Being able to easily set or change the default paste behaviour is a nice touch, but apart from that I’ll stick with PureText (http://www.stevemiller.net/puretext/). One keyboard shortcut that works everywhere is simpler than having to remember several application-specific shortcuts (Alt e s t in Notes, Ctrl y in Arbortext, etc.).

  5. Excellent tip. Its a bit tricky the first time through, but pretty cool once you know how it works. Thanks for sharing :D

  6. Found your post after doing this accidentally and trying to work out what I’d done! Thanks.

    Found a slightly odd bug – if you paste something at the top of the second page of a table cell that spans across a page break and, for whatever reason (eg. smaller font size), the text actually appears at the bottom of the previous page, it doesn’t offer up the ‘Ctrl’ menu. Not for me anyway.

    Not exactly a common issue, but one that came up within five minutes of discovering this tip. (This is separate to the Skype add-on issue – I get the ‘Ctrl’ menu the rest of the time)

  7. I love the Merge Formatting and Keep Text Only options but always find myself going to the Paste drop-down on the ribbon. I knew there had to be a shortcut for these – thanks CyberText this should keep me that little bit more efficient in the workplace.

  8. I find that the menu covers text where you want to past something else. Is there anyway to turn this feature off or move the menu?

  9. Hi Mjessie

    If you mean the little ‘paste options’ floating toolbar thing, then you can turn it off. In Word 2010, go to File > Options > Advanced, then scroll to the ‘Cut, copy, and paste’ section and clear the check box for ‘Show Paste Options button when content is pasted’.


  10. May I suggest a slight rewrite of the original tip? I suggest changing Step 2 to the following:

    2. Press and then release Ctrl to activate the Paste Options icon.

    (I also suggest underlining “and then release”. That would emphasize it while not conflicting with the bold text of Ctrl immediately following.)

    True, Step 3 does indeed tell you not to hold Ctrl while pressing t, but I simply did not read that parenthetical “after the fact” text. In my eagerness to try out this fix for a problem that’s bedeviled me for years, I focused instead on the “meat” of the steps … and I’d bet I’m not the only person who has done or would do that.

    In fact, just adding those three words to Step 2 would allow Step 3 to be much briefer and clearer, i.e., “Press t to select the ‘Text only’ option.” You could then move the parenthetical text onto a separate line after the numbered list – and you could even add something like, “If you continue to press the Ctrl key while pressing t, you will increase the tab instead.”

    I have no idea if modifying the article is even possible, so all of these suggestions (which are simply one reader’s opinion) may be moot. But if anyone is able to modify the original post, I think adding that small detail to Step 2 would make the tip much clearer without taking anything away overall.

    Having said all that, THANK YOU to whoever posted this tip. It certainly helped me, as I’d never figured it out myself despite 20+ years of using Word and at least three years of using Word 2010.

  11. Done!

  12. Thank you!!! Worked as a charme! Wondered ever if there is a solution!

  13. Thank you! Helped a lot.

  14. […] I’ve previously written about using toolbar icons, macros, or other features of Word to paste copied text as unformatted text (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/word-keyboard-shortcut-to-paste-unformatted-text/ and https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/word-2010-keyboard-shortcut-to-paste-unformatted-text/). […]

  15. I have been doing this using the right click for so long now and I needed a keyboard shortcut. Thank you so much

  16. Helpful, thanks!

  17. Thanks.

  18. The simplest way is to use a one-click keyboard shortcut.

    How to set this up:

    In Word, go to File->Options->Customize Ribbon->Customize Keyboard Shortcuts

    Choose “All commands”, scroll down to PasteDestinationFormatting

    Set your preferred keyboard shortcut (I use Ctrl-Alt-V).


  19. very helpful. thanks.

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