How to Copy and Paste Just the Text

Copy and paste. It is a simple function that we perform many times during the day. I doubt you even think about it much.

copy and paste

Until, that is, the text you paste into another document comes with all the formatting and underlying code that you then have to take time to strip out.

The problem is when you copy text from a website page or other document, in addition to the visible text, you are also copying the underlying code for that text. The code could include the font description as well as text attributes like bold, underline, and italics. Most of the time I do not want these other attributes; I am looking just for the text.

There are a couple of ways to make sure that when you paste the copied text, you get just the text.

Copy and Paste with Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word (as well as all other Office products) has common keyboard shortcuts for Copy (Control-C) and Paste (Control-P). These shortcuts make it quick and easy to copy and paste text from one place to another. However, they do not modify or strip out the underlying attributes contained in the copied text.

paste optionsRight Click

After you have copied the text block you want to move, right-click and a menu of options will appear. Under the “Paste Options:” the furthest to the right is called “Keep Text Only” and will paste only the text without any formatting.

You can also access the same menu in the ribbon bar by selecting the drop-down arrow under “Paste.”

An Alternative: PureText

I do use other programs besides Microsoft Word where I want to paste copied text without formatting. Evernote is a good example. I have talked about Evernote quite a bit over the years, and I continue to use it to store documents, website information, and personal notes.

Evernote does have a built-in way to remove formatting from the pasted text. Simply select the text, right-click, and choose the menu option “Remove Formatting.” It does work just fine.

Another option that works across any program or platform is a program called PureText.

After installing the program by running the PureText.exe file, you will see a “PT” icon appear near the clock on your taskbar. When you click on this icon, you will remove formatting from the text that you have copied to the clipboard.

By right clicking on the same icon, you can set up PureText to use its hotkey to paste text instead of using the standard Windows command CTRL+V. The default hotkey is Windows+V.

PureText is a simple program that solves a simple problem. The latest version is 6.1 and has been supported for quite some time.

Before you install this program on your desktop computer, you should double check with your IT department to make sure they are comfortable with installing a third-party application.

What tricks and tips do you have for removing formatting from text you have copied?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “How to Copy and Paste Just the Text

  1. I’m looking forward to trying PureText.

    My current method is to paste the formatted text into Notepad, re-copy it, and then paste it into my destination. Notepad, because it does not accommodate formatting, will strip the formatting. It works, but is inefficient.

    Thanks for the tip!

  2. Re PureText and unformatted Paste. I love using the clipboard manager clipx from http://bluemars.org/clipx It is only 42k in size, last updated in 2005! It pastes unformatted text and, best feature: recalls the last 25 items copied to the clipboard – to be pasted as needed. I realize this can be an E&O problem if you are copying personal, protected info that needs to be protected. But it is very useful!

  3. Hey Steve,

    Not sure if I would use the third party app enough to warrant another app on my machine. While I use the right click in Word and Excel often, if using for something other than those, say a newsletter, I use notepad.

    After copying something to clipboard:
    Win + R
    type: notepad
    press enter
    ctrl + v
    ctrl + a
    ctrl + c

    Now I’m ready to paste format stripped text into any app or web app, like our online email newsletter.

    Sounds like a lot of steps but with all of them being keyboard shortcuts, it goes really fast actually.

  4. Steve,

    I look forward to your tips. Thank you for sharing!

    While I often use the “Keep Text Only” option you mention above I will also paste text to Notepad. Then I copy it from Notepad and insert it in my Word document. This strips away the formatting as well.

    To get to Notepad quickly I have it pinned to my task bar.