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Paste Special

This time we want to show you how to use Copy & Paste and Cut & Paste in Special ways.

Normally when you paste the original is reproduced in every respect, but you can choose to paste in particular ways using Paste Special. For example, you can choose to Paste the text without the formatting, or the formatting but not the text.

Different programs have different Paste Special options, so we'll explain the basic steps and give you some common examples.

Basic Steps

  1. Highlight your original text, and give the Copy or Cut command in the usual way.
  2. Select where you want to Paste.
  3. Give the command Edit - Paste Special. You will then be presented with the different ways of pasting.

NB: Most Paste Special options work whether you are copying or cutting, but not all.


Paste Special is at its most flexible in Excel. You can choose to copy any aspect of a range, instead of the complete cells. Our favourite is Transpose which can copy a row to column or vice versa.

The Paste Special dialogue box has the following options:


  • All (Every aspect of the copied cells)
  • Formulas (What was typed into the cell and displayed in the Formula bar)
  • Values (The result of the cell, as shown in the spreadsheet. This converts an answer that was calculated by a formula into a constant number)
  • Formats (The appearance of the cell - font, size, number format etc. It's usually quicker to use Format Painter to do this)
  • Comments (Any Comments that have been added to the cell)
  • Validation (Any Data Validation rules that have been set)
  • All except borders (Useful when you want to copy the cells but not change the appearance of the table you have drawn)
  • Column widths (Useful when you want to make sure a range of columns are of an equal width)
  • Formulas and number formats (Pastes the Formulas as above, and the appearance of the number, but not the font, size or colour)
  • Values and number formats (Pastes the Values as above, and the format of the number only)


  • Instead of replacing the contents of the destination you can perform arithmetic as you Paste.
  • You can Add, Subtract, Multiply or Divide what you are pasting with the contents of the destination.
  • If you are pasting a formula or the destination has a formula in it, the formula is rewritten to include the pasted element.

Other Options

  • Skip Blanks (Stops blank cells from the original replacing cells in the destination so that those cells are not overwritten by a blank)
  • Transpose (Changes the orientation of the original. If you copy a column of cells, Transpose will paste it along a row, and can make rows into columns)
  • Paste Link will execute the paste command with a link to the original cell(s), so that if the original changes so does the pasted cell.


Normally when you Paste in Word it inserts the text with the same appearance as the original. Paste Special gives you the chance for the text to be the same as the destination.

Choose 'Unformatted text' from the list of choices.


If you are pasting text, the options in PowerPoint are the same as Word.

If you want to paste a text box or drawing object you can paste it as a picture, which may help reduce the file size but means it can't be changed.

Using Paste Special after copying or cutting a picture allows you to convert it to a better format. JPG is best for colour pictures, because it takes up less file space, PNG is better for black & white originals.

We hope you have found this Hot Tip useful - remember, you can change things when you paste them.

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