Featured - How to Strip Formatting When You Copy and Paste Text

The copy and paste shortcuts are among the most used in the world. Many people copy and paste information dozens of times per day, making it important that the feature works quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately, however, that is often hampered by the formatting of the text’s source. When pasting from an article, for example, the pasted text may retain any headings, italics, and more. Today we’re going to show you how to paste without formatting so you can keep your workflow optimized.

Paste without formatting / paste as plain text


There are several tricks you can use to paste without formatting – but unfortunately not every application honors all of them. As a result, you may want to use a mixture of the methods shown below or use the third-party tool highlighted later on.

Without further ado, here’s how to paste without formatting in Word, Google Docs, or any other application:

How to Paste Without Formatting From a Document to an Email

If you’re copying text from a document to your browser, the paste without formatting shortcut is the way to go. In fact, many applications respect this shortcut and will strip any formatting from your text. Here’s an example of how you can use different shortcuts to paste text into an email with or without formatting:

  1. Open your email and press Ctrl + V or Ctrl + Shift + V

    Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and many other applications respect the Ctrl + Shift + V shortcut to paste text without formatting. Technically, the shortcut doesn’t remove formatting from the source text, but matches it to that of the document you’re pasting it into. Functionally, though, the result is the same.

    If you want to keep your formatting when pasting it into an email, you can do so by using the usual Ctrl + V instead. Windows 10 Outlook.live.com - Nex Message - Paste Text With and Without Format

How to Paste Without Formatting in Word and Microsoft Office

Unfortunately, while many applications respect the shortcut above, the Microsoft Office suite is a notable exception. Pressing Ctrl + Shift + V instead does…absolutely nothing.

So, how do you copy and paste without formatting in Word? We’ll show you a few methods below:

  1. Use Word’s pop-up menu on paste

    When you paste text in Word, it should surface a small paste icon near the end of the text. Click it, (or press Ctrl) to bring up the paste options menu. You have the choice between three icons, which, in order, do the following:

    –  Keep source formatting: The text remains as you copied it, with any bold, italic, heading, and other formatting in place. You can press K after opening the tooltip to select this quickly.
    Merge formatting: The text you paste will match the font of your document, but keep core formattings such as bold, italics, and bullet points. You can press M after opening the menu to access this quickly.
    – Keep text only: Paste without any formatting. This will be plaintext with no bullet points, bold or source font. Press T to access this quickly.

    Windows 10 - Word - Paste the text - Paste Options


  2. Use the paste without formatting shortcut in Word

    Though it’s not as streamlined as, Word also has its own paste without formatting shortcut. That shortcut is Ctrl + Alt + V

    Pressing this shortcut doesn’t paste into the document immediately, but instead opens the Paste Special menu, where you need to click “Unformatted Text”, and then press “OK”.

    Windows 10 - Word - Use Ctrl + Alt + V - Unformated Text - Accept

  3. Change your options to paste without formatting by default

    First, click the “File” button in the top-right of your ribbon.

    Windows 10 - Word - File

  4. Press “More… > Options”

    Windows 10 - Word - File - Options

  5. Click “Advanced” in the sidebar and change “Pasting from other programs:” to “Keep Text Only”

    This will cause all text pasted to Microsoft Word to appear in plaintext by default. Press “OK” once you’ve made your selection.

    Windows 10 - Word - File - Options - Advanced - Keep Text Only


How to Paste as Plain Text Anywhere in Windows

If you want to paste without formatting anywhere in Windows using the same shortcut, you can make use of a third-party tool called PureText. PureText is available on the Microsoft Store and is free, lightweight, and unobtrusive to use.

Once you have it installed, you can right-click it in your system tray and hit “Options” to change some settings:

  1. Copying and pasting with PureText

    The default paste hotkey for PureText is Windows + V. However, some may find that this interferes with their clipboard history tool. You can change it by ticking something other than Windows on the right-hand side and selecting the key from the dropdown. You can also click “Capture the next key typed” and simply press the shortcut you want.

    You’ll probably also want to untick “Play a sound” and tick “Automatically run PureText when Windows starts”. Press “OK” when you’re done.

    Windows 10 - PureText Options - Configure the Settings

How to Copy Text Without Formatting Using a Text Editor

This is a last-ditch method that you should only really use it if you can’t get any of the above to work. It’s clunky, but it will get the job done if you have a particularly troublesome application:

  1. Paste your text into Notepad, copy it, then paste it into your document

    As Notepad does not respect any formatting, it’ll be stripped. When you copy it, all formatting will be gone, ready to paste into your document.

    Windows 10 - Notepad - Paste and Copy - Word - Paste

How to Clear Formatting in Word and Remove a Horizontal Line

That’s all there is to it. You know how how to paste without formatting in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Chrome, and any other application that takes your fancy. If you already pasted content into Word with formatting, however, you may want to follow our guide on how to remove or clear formatting to get rid of it. While you’re there why not learn how to remove those pesky horizontal lines that appear when using three dashes?