Word: Cut/paste tracked changes from one document to another

April 23, 2014

Thanks to Pete C who alerted me to this procedure.

Important notes:

  • This procedure CUTS (i.e. deletes) the text from the original document; if you wish to keep that text in the original document, you have to go back to the original document after pasting into the target document and undo your previous action (e.g. with Ctrl+z). I could not find out how to just COPY the original text instead of cutting it.
  • This procedure does NOT work for table rows, columns, or whole tables — if you select any of these, then only the first cell of the selection will be cut to the clipboard, and when pasted, all table formatting will be lost and it will paste as normal text.
  • From the experimenting I did, text formatting and styles from the original document (except for text from tables) are retained in the target document when pasted.
  • You can select and cut several sections of text to the clipboard, one after the other, then paste them into the target document as a single paste. This process used to be called ‘spike’ in earlier versions of Word.

To cut and paste tracked changes text from one document to another:

  1. In Document A (the original document), select the text containing the tracked changes that you want to paste into Document B (the target document).
  2. Press Ctrl+F3 — this cuts (deletes) the text from Document A and places it on the ‘spike’ clipboard. If you wish to keep the text in Document A, immediately undo the cut (Ctrl+z).
  3. Go to the place in Document B where you want to insert the cut text from Document A.
  4. Press Ctrl+Shift+F3 to paste the cut text, including the tracked changes. This clears the content from the ‘spike’ clipboard — if you want to keep this content, see the instructions described here: http://helpdeskgeek.com/office-tips/use-the-spike-to-copy-and-paste-text-in-word/

See also:

[Links last checked April 2014]


  1. Thank you – this is SO useful. Any news on a solution for doing the same, but with text in tables? That’s what I happen to need most.

  2. Hi Shelley

    One option that works for me is to have both docs in track changes view but with track changes turned OFF in both. Then copy from one doc to the other — this seems to preserve the track changes.

    There’s a matrix for what happens depending on whether track changes is on or off in both docs: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/word-what-happens-when-you-paste-tracked-changes-into-another-document/


  3. Rhonda, that does seem to work, even for tables. Thank you!

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