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What does Paste Special mean?

Answer: Paste Special is a menu option found in Microsoft Office programs, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It is used to paste an item from the clipboard with custom formatting.

If you open one of the Office programs, you'll notice that the command is actually listed as "Paste Special..." in the Edit menu. The ellipsis (...) indicates a window will open when you select the command. This window provides several options when pasting data into a document. Below are a few of the Paste Special options offered in each Microsoft Office application.


  • Document Object - pastes an editable and movable object
  • Formatted Text - pastes text with font and table formatting
  • Unformatted Text - pastes text without copying the text formatting
  • Picture - pastes the clipboard contents as a picture within the document
  • HTML Format - pastes the clipboard contents with HTML formatting
  • All - pastes all data saved to the clipboard into the selected cell(s)
  • Formulas - pastes the formulas from each copied cell
  • Values - pastes the current values from each copied cell
  • Formats - pastes only the formatting from copied cells
  • Comments - pastes only the comments from copied cells
  • Formatted Text - pastes clipboard contents as formatted text
  • Unformatted Text - pastes text without copying the formatting
  • Picture - pastes the clipboard contents as a picture within the presentation
The above options may change depending on what type of data is stored in the clipboard (such as a text selection, spreadsheet cells, or an image). By using Paste Special, you can often consolidate two or more operations into a single step. If you use Microsoft Office programs on a regular basis, it may be helpful to experiment with the Paste Special options to see how they might be useful.

Published: May 28, 2010 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center