How to Cut, Copy, and Paste in Word

Move text and images in a document easily

Cut, Copy, and Paste might be the three most used commands in Microsoft Word. These commands move text and images in a document, and there are several ways to apply them. Whatever you cut or copy is saved to the Clipboard, a virtual holding area, and it keeps track of the data you work with. Here are the differences between Copy and Cut, and how to use the Clipboard.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Microsoft 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013.

Differences Between Copy and Cut

Cut and Copy are comparable commands. When you cut something, such as text or a picture, it's saved to the Clipboard and removed from the document. When you copy something it's also saved to the Clipboard, but it remains in the document.

If you want to paste the last item you cut or copied, use the Paste command, available in various areas of Microsoft Word. If you want to paste an item other than the last one you cut or copied, use the Clipboard history.

When you paste something you cut, it's moved to the new location. If you paste something you copied, it's duplicated at the new location.

How to Cut and Copy in Word

There are several ways to use the Cut and Copy commands and these are universal to all versions of Microsoft Word. First, use the mouse to highlight the text, image, table, or another item you want to cut or copy. Then, use one of the following commands:

  • Go to the Ribbon, select the Home tab, then select Cut or Copy.
  • Right-click the selected text and choose Cut or Copy.
  • Use the key shortcut Ctrl+X to cut or use Ctrl+C to copy.

How to Paste the Last Item Cut or Copied in Word

There are several ways to use the Paste command that are universal to all versions of Microsoft Word. First, either use the Cut or Copy command to save an item to the Clipboard. Then, to paste it, do one of the following:

  • Go to the Home tab, then select Paste.
  • Place the cursor where you want the text or image to go in the document, then right-click and choose Paste.
  • Use the key combination Ctrl+V to paste. This is the keyboard shortcut for Paste and is universal to most Microsoft Office applications.

How to Use the Clipboard to Paste Previously Cut or Copied Items

You can’t use the Paste command as outlined in the previous section if you want to paste something other than the last item copied. To access items older than that, access the Clipboard.

If you're collaborating with others to create a document, use Track Changes so your collaborators can quickly see the changes you've made.

Here's how to use the Clipboard:

  1. Go to the Home tab.

    Word with the Home tab highlighted
  2. In the Clipboard group, select the dialog launcher to open the Clipboard pane.

    Clipboard pane button in Word
  3. Select the text or image you want to copy and press Ctrl+C.

  4. Repeat until you've copied all the items you want to use. The items appear in the Clipboard, with the latest at the top.

  5. Place the cursor in the document where you want to paste the items, then go to the Clipboard pane, select the drop-down arrow next to the item you want to paste, then choose Paste.

    Clipboard pane in Word

Alternatively, if you want to paste all of the items in your Clipboard, select Paste All.