How to Cut, Copy, and Paste in Microsoft Word

Move text and images in a document easily

Scissors cutting paper that says copy, tablet says paste

Kelly Sillaste / Getty Images

Cut, Copy, and Paste might be the three most used commands in Microsoft Word. They let you easily move text and images around inside 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. In this guide, we'll explain the differences between Copy and Cut, and show you how to use the Clipboard

This guide applies to Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013.

Differences Between Copy and Cut

Cut and Copy are comparable commands. When you cut something, like text or a picture, it's saved to the Clipboard and removed from the document after you paste it somewhere else. When you copy something it's also saved to the Clipboard, but it remains in the document even after you paste it somewhere else (or if you don’t).

If you want to paste the last item you’ve cut or copied, you simply 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, you need to use the Clipboard history.

When you paste something you’ve cut, it's moved to the new location. If you paste something you’ve 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 they're universal to all versions of Microsoft Word. First, use your mouse to highlight the text, image, table, or another item you want to cut or copy. Then, use one of the following commands:

  • Select the Home tab on the Ribbon, 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, you must either use the Cut or Copy command to save an item to the Clipboard. Then, to paste it, do one of the following:

  • Select the Home tab, then select Paste.
  • Place your cursor where you want the text or images to go in the document, then right-click and choose Paste.
  • Use the key combinations 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, you need to access the Clipboard. But where is the Clipboard? How do you get to it and how do you open it? Here's how it works:

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

  1. Go to the Home tab, then select the launcher in the lower-right corner of the Clipboard group. This should open the Clipboard pane.

    A screenshot of the Clipboard pane in Word 365
  2. Select the text or image you want to copy and press Ctrl+C.

  3. Repeat step 2 until you've copied all the items you want to use. They will appear in the Clipboard, with the latest at the top.

  4. Place your cursor in the document where you want to paste the items and do so using one of the methods described above.

    Screenshot depicting how to paste text from the Clipboard in Word 365