Microsoft Word Paste Special As Unformatted Text Keyboard Shortcut

I have cause to repeatedly use the Paste Special -> As Unformatted Text function in Microsoft Word. However, it is not terribly convenient to paste then adjust using the Smart Tag or paste using the Edit -> Paste Special dialog box.

So, add I have added a macro called PasteSpecial and assigned it to a keyboard shortcut.

  • Pre-2007: Select Tools -> Macros.
    2007:  Click Macros on the View ribbon.
  • Type PasteSpecial into the Macro Name box and click Create.
  • Replace the auto-generated code with that below.
    ' PasteSpecial Macro
    Sub PasteSpecial()
      Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText
    End Sub
  • Save.
  • Pre-2007: Select Tools -> Customize -> Keyboard…
    2007: Select Word Options from the Office button at the top left. Then Customize, then find Keyboard shortcuts and click the Customize button next to that.
  • Select the category Macros, then PasteSpecial from the Macros list.
  • Click in Press New Shortcut Key and press your desired keyboard shortcut. I have used Ctrl+Shift+V which is normally assigned to paste format, something I don’t think I’ve ever used from the keyboard.

Of course, the thing now is will I remember my new keyboard shortcut? What’s the betting I carry on using the mouse to paste unformatted text!?

118 thoughts on “Microsoft Word Paste Special As Unformatted Text Keyboard Shortcut

  1. A much easier way of pasting plain text in MS-Office apps without using macros:

    Press: Ctrl+Alt+V
    A dialog box appears… Press “U” twice… which takes you to “Unformatted text format (plain text).
    Press “Enter”

    1. Why not set the default paste option to text only or to match the destination document? – In Word 2007
      1.Click the Office Button
      2.Click Word Options (below the recently used file list)
      3. Click Advanced, and then locate the Cut, Copy, Paste section
      4.Set the options to “Keep text only” as needed. For example, if you only want this to occur when pasting between other programs, set the “Pasting from other programs” option to “Keep text only”. To always keep text only, change all options accordingly.

  2. Very nice, but I have used a very small free program called PureText (written by Steven Miller) that has been out for about a decade or more. Works on Win 95 – Win 7. The great thing about PureText is that it works across all programs, so I can use the same keyboard shortcut to paste without codes into Word, Excel … any program.

  3. Perfect…I have been looking for this forever…I use special paste a hundreds times a day. Thanks for figuring it out and sharing with the rest of us who are too lazy to figure it out…

  4. thanks for this great guidance!
    and i’m so happy for you all!
    now, i have been trying for the past couple days to get it right with my ms word 2000, on my win XP (pro edition).
    I’m following your exact instructions,
    but when i try to use the keyboard shortcut for it, it only pastes a line of the instructions. (e.g. Sub PasteSpecial())
    Hmmmm.. so am i not saving it correctly or something? ( i was not sure i could find the right “save” option after the “Replace the auto-generated code with that below.” step…)
    please send your tips/ideas my way– i feel like im sooo close to getting it!

    1. wow– update! i was fiddling around and stumbled upon a different way to do this that works! here it is, for just in case it might be helpful to anyone else out there:
      i clicked on tools– macro– record new macro,
      which prompted me to choose a macro name, then choice between keyboard or toolbars (i chose keyboard, and it worked assigned alt+z), then i little pic of a tape popped up, and i “recorded” my action (by actually doing what i wanted it to do), then i pressed the stop button,
      and Voila! it works! :) yay

  5. I don’t know why, but this is not working for me at all. I’m a smart fellow, pretty computer literate (though no experience with VB) and it’s just simply not working. I see that 98% of the commentors have found success… I can’t figure out what is wrong.

  6. Hello,

    People reading this post may benefit from knowing that before pasting, it sometimes helps to press Ctrl+Space to remove some aspects of formatting defined at the insertion point. It might be useful to add the equivalent script to the macro before the paste operation, or to implement a separate macro with this feature.

    Thanks & regards,


  7. I really blew it. I jumped in without thinking and replace everything in Visual Basic with the suggested code. Now, whatever I try to do with macros I get “macro compile error: invalid outside procedure.” How do I restore the macro compiler?

    1. The comment markers may be missing for the first three lines. The error indicates that there is code the compiler doesn’t recognise or that shouldn’t be present outside of the lines Sub … End Sub. Perhaps the line ‘ PasteSpecial macro doesn’t have the apostrophe at the beginning of the line.

  8. MisterSlimm,

    Thanks for the post. This works awesomely!

    C Davis

    P.S: Also, thank you gcat8888 for the additional steps since I’m using 2010.

  9. Thanks a lot – I recorded the macro and assigned to my shift-ctrl-v but it never worked. I had to go into the visual basic editor and change the code to what you showed above!

    I suppose you could, if prone to forget it, assign it to a toolbar instead, but I’m almost always pasting as text because it’s going from a PDF to Word or a web page to Word. This saves a LOT of keystrokes.

  10. Just upgraded from 2007 to 2010. No more Office Button at top left, but you can find Customize Keyboard by
    Customize RIBBON
    at lower left, you’ll see “Keyboard shortcuts: Customize” and hit that button.

    Thanks MisterSlimm!

  11. Word 2010 has a way to set the pasting defaults, so regular ctrl-v pasting can paste text.

    In Word 2010, use Office Menu..Word Options..Advanced..Cut Copy and Paste.

    There are options for the type of Pasting within the same document, different documents, other programs.

    Change all of them to Keep Text Only.

    Then, if you want to copy formatting, use Paste Special, or if you are doing it a lot, go back and change the option.

  12. Hold down ALT-e-s on the keyboard (in this order, all at once).

    This brings up the paste special menu. Usually hit the up arrow once and then hit enter.


    1. On my word 2007 you must release the keys after the -E and before you type S. -E brings up the old (i.e. 2003) file menu (Edit), then S selects the Paste Special choice.

      1. Let’s try that without the angle brackets (sorry). I must type “Alt-E” release the keys, then type “S”.

      2. This is a great tip, but I had to tweak it to make it work.
        I use Word 2003 and found my macro required a slight change from yours.
        You need Parens around the DataType and its value. See fifth line below:

        ‘ PasteSpecial Macro

        Sub PasteSpecial()
        End Sub

  13. This is awesome! I am constantly cutting and copying and pasting from older versions and docs into newly rearranged/reformatted docs. I’ve been going nuts with this for several years.

    One question, is there a way to have the macro automatically go to the next line after pasting? I.e. hit the “enter” button for me?

  14. Thanks a bunch, it did not go exactly as instructed but was enough detail for me to figure it our. I chose Ctrl+Q since I can easily do this with one hand. Paul.

  15. This is great – thanks a bunch. If you could figure out how to make this work in Outlook 2007 you would get even more stars and accolades. Note that I tried this code in an Outlook macro, figuring it might work since Outlook 2007 uses Word as an editor, but no dice.

    1. Code: Application.ActiveInspector.WordEditor.Windows(1).Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=2 ‘ wdPasteText

      You cannot assign a keyboard shortcut (as far as I can work out) but you can place your macro in the Quick Access toolbar which gives it an Alt+number shortcut.

  16. Earth Hour in 2010 happens on Saturday 27 March and is really a worldwide call to action to just about every man or women, each and every business and each local community around the world.

    It is known as a call to stand up, for taking accountability, for getting engaged and lead the way in the direction of a eco friendly future.

    May you play a part?

  17. YOU ROCK!!!

    I’m so buying you a beer! But of course I have no idea who you are or where you are, so I’ll buy it for you and drink it myself (but in your honor).


  18. Awesome, thanks! I used it in WORD 2007 (had to look around for all the cr*p that MS moved, but got through it ok with a few adjustments).

  19. Quite useful. I managed to do something similar in excel. However, one problem is that ‘Undo’ (or ctrl-Z) doesn’t work – when you invoke the paste special macro with ctrl-shift-V, excel doesn’t let you undo the paste special.

  20. You are a god amongst men, I use Paste>Unformatted as the only way I paste stuff into word, this makes my day! Thanks, and the video was priceless too.

  21. Excellent. Tried to do this myself years ago, but must have been missing the ‘wdPasteText’ part, so have been using a button to ‘Paste Special,’ but still always had to choose “Unformatted text.” This will be an awesome timesaver with the keyboard shortcut. Thanks so much!

  22. This is Absolutely what I was looking for.
    This keyboard shortcut is used is program “My notes keeper” and I use it all the time. I could not figure out how to do it in Word. It’s working great. You made my day.

  23. Thanks a lot. Just what I needed.

    @Berty: try using Firefox with the “Copy plain text” or “Extended copy menu” extensions. That lets you copy text from webpages without any formatting, which is probably the quickest way to do what you’re doing.

  24. I had to edit the Visual Basic code to remove the redundant “Paste Special” line. Now the Paste Special line works great. Using WinXPSP2, Word2003 on an HP PC.


  25. In Office 2007, I found two ways to solve this:

    1. adding the “paste special” button in the Quick Access Toolbar. To do so :

    – in the top left section, click on the little arrow to open the customer quick access toolbar menu
    – then select the “more commands” option
    – choose commands from Home Tab
    – Add “Paste Special”

    (but then you still have to click)

    2. There is a shortcut built-in to access the paste special menu : ALT-CTRL-V

  26. Can you add “paste as unformatted text” to the right-click menu? The old Word allowed one to modify the right-click menu, but I don’t know how to do it with 2007.

    1. Hi Sheldon, how did you modify the right click menu in the old Word versions? Would be very interested to know… thanx!

  27. The new version of Word for Mac apparently doesn’t support VBA anymore, so I have to use AppleScript to create a macro. Does anyone know how I’d create this same macro in AppleScript? I know how to open the program, but not what to type! Thanks.

  28. This is just what I was looking for. A wise man once told me, if you’re working in a program and find yourself thinking, “There’s got to be a better way…then there usually is.” Thanks for providing that better way.

  29. Thanks! I tried to record a macro using the “paste special” “unformatted text” menu but it of course completely ignored it. I tried to modify the code but that was not right either. So I went to google and searched on “how can I write a Word macro to paste unformatted text” and got your web page! I have essentially a 250 page table that got corrupted and I am pasting cell by cell unformatted to avoid carrying any bugs with the pasted text. Thanks again.

  30. THANKS!!!

    I tried to make a macro like this years ago and gave up in disgust due to programming confusion. You have saved my mouse hand hours of indignity!

    Now will someone write a wordprocessor as that’s as good at word-processing as Firefox is for web-browsing!?

  31. @IG: Thanks for the comment. Oddly, the apostrophes were produced using the key to the left of the Enter key. In my blogging software they appear as straight apostrophes, on this post they appear as straight apostrophes, when cut-and-paste, voila, curly apostrophes. Bizarre. I have no idea how to produce a culy apostrophe using the keyboard, I’d never even seen the character before!

    I’ve updated the post to use WordPress’s funky sourcecode feature and hopefully that should sort it out.

  32. Regarding the apostrophe problem on Macs: On a Mac, you type the “comment” mark in Visual Basic by hitting the “single quote” key to the left of the Return key. In Word’s Visual Basic, this produces a straight up-and-down typewriter-style apostrophe. The code posted above contains slanted single quote marks instead. To keep the comments, just replace those slanted (or curly, which they transformed into in my version of Word) single quotes with the character to the left of the return key.

  33. I’m weeping tears of gratitude for this, and for all the time I’ve lost over the years cutting and “pasting special” using the edit menu. Oh little paste-special macro, where have you been all my computing life?

    Thanks, Mister Slimm.

  34. @Gosh
    I don’t have a Mac so I am guessing. The apostrophe denotes that the remainder of the line is a comment and the error you are getting shows that it doesn’t realise that the line is a comment. Perhaps on the Mac an apostrophe doesn’t denote this. Change the apostrophe on each line to the comment marker or, if you don’t know what that is, just delete the comments altogether.

  35. Hi –

    I was so happy to find this. But I get a compile error “Expected: Expression” It then prompts the macro editor and highlights the first less than symbol before the first summary.

    So sad.

    I use a IbookG4 Mac 2004 edition.

    Can you help out at all! This would DRASTICALLY IMPROVE my life as I cut and paste pretty much all day long!

    THANK YOU!!!

  36. Slimm,

    Awesome! Thanks for the tip.

    I often copy select quotes from different web sites or feeds and put them in a Word document. I hate having to select Edit, then Paste Special, then etc…

    This has made my life incredibly easier.

    I did, however, run into a compile error. I eliminated the comments at the beginning and it worked fine (it may have something to do with quotes, or the fact that I cut and pasted your post into the macro instead of typing it in). I don’t think I will be creating anymore macros on my own and I’m not too concerned.

    Thanks again. You are menthol.

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