“But I don’t want to lose my WordPerfect formatting!”

One of the tactics I regularly recommend to users when transferring content from an old WordPerfect document is to use Paste, Special, Unformatted Text instead of just the plain Paste or CNTRL-V commands:

Paste, Special Dialog Box

The advantage here is that Paste Special clears out all of the formatting so the newly-pasted text doesn’t mess up your nice Microsoft Word document.

The disadvantage?  Well … it clears out all the formatting.  And this can be a pain to re-do, particularly if you’ve got a long document with lots of case citations, etc.

What to do?  Here are three tricks to keep in your Microsoft Word skills arsenal.

1.  If you don’t want to lose the underlining/italics, boldface, etc., already resident in whatever you’re moving from WordPerfect to Microsoft Word, but you don’t want things like paragraph indentation all fouled up, do this:

  • After you copy the text from WordPerfect (or wherever), use CNTRL-V (hold down CNTRL and press the V key) to drop it into your Microsoft Word document.
  • Highlight the portion that you’ve just inserted and hit CNTRL-Q (hold down CNTRL and press the Q key).  That (by default) will remove paragraph-level formatting only, meaning that indentation, etc., will match the normal settings of your document, while retaining boldfacing, etc.

2.  If your problem is the character-level formatting (fonts, underlining, etc.), substitute CNTRL-SHIFT-SPACEBAR (hold down CNTRL and SHIFT and press the space bar) in the second step above.  That will leave the indentation, etc., intact, while returning the font to whatever is “Normal” for your document.

3.  If you just want to return all of the text to your “Normal” setting, highlight it with your mouse and press CNTRL-SHIFT-N (hold down CNTRL and SHIFT and press the N key).

And if you want to reformat the newly-inserted paragraph like the paragraph immediately preceding it, use the Format Painter.

(All this assumes that you have the standard set of hotkeys – key combinations that perform specific functions – installed.  If you’ve reassigned any of these key combinations to another macro or to a symbol, these shortcuts won’t work for  you.  If you haven’t, and these still don’t work, check with your IT person to make sure all of the standard macros have been loaded on your PC.)

There are lots of different ways to deal with copying text from other documents into Word.  What are some of your strategies?

About the Author

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.