Save The Formatting When Word Text Is Moved

Q. When I copy text from one document to another or from one place in a document to another, sometimes the formatting comes along with it and sometimes it doesn’t. Why is Word so finicky?

A. Well, Word may indeed be finicky at times, but when this happens it’s not because the application made a mistake, it’s because you were unaware of a strange, even unintuitive, feature of Word. Few users realize it, but in Word, the formatting information is stored in, of all places, the paragraph mark.

“Wait a minute,” I can almost hear you saying, “there are no paragraph marks on my screen.”

You may not see them, but trust me, they’re there. Every time you hit the Enter key, an invisible paragraph mark is embedded at that cursor location. I’m telling you that because when you want to paste text from one place to another and you want the formatting to go with it, make sure you select the paragraph mark, too.

“But if I can’t see it, how can I be sure I’m taking it along?” you’re probably asking now.

The answer is: Make the paragraph mark visible. To do that, you can either change the Word default and make them visible all the time (which I don’t recommend because they make the screen very busy and you don’t need them most of the time), or you can add an icon to your toolbar that lets you turn them on and off as needed.

To change the default, click on Tools, Options and then on the View tab. Under the Formatting marks category, select the check box labeled Paragraph marks and click on OK, as shown above left.

A better way is to add the paragraph icon ( ) to your toolbar. To do that go to Tools, Options, Customize and click on the Commands tab. Under View, grab the paragraph icon (Show All) with your mouse and drag it to your toolbar.

Now you can hide and unhide the paragraph marks with a single click.


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