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Word: Selected text won’t move

August 15, 2018

Here’s one I’ve encountered every so often, but have never figured out why—sometimes when I select a piece of text in a Word document, then try to drag it to another location (e.g. a different table cell; elsewhere in the paragraph), I can’t do it. Instead, I see a small black circle with a black diagonal line through it and the selected text won’t go where I want it to go. I have to copy the text, then paste it at the new location, instead of dragging and dropping it. It doesn’t happen every time, which of course it what makes it hard to figure out the cause.

I’ve now found out why, courtesy of one of my global colleagues on a Facebook group for editors—the reason it won’t drag to the new location is because the Cross Reference window is open! If you close that window, you can move the selected text. (Note: Other windows that can remain open while you’re working on a document may also result in this behaviour—I haven’t tested those.)

This situation is unlikely to happen to most Word users, because most have no use for cross-referencing. But power users and those working in large documents with lots of cross references may like to know that an open Cross Reference window is the reason you can’t move selected text.

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