Microsoft Word has finally added the copy and paste feature users have begged for — automatic merge formatting is here at last

Microsoft Word
(Image credit: Shutterstock / monticello)

Years of frustration for Microsoft Word users could finally be at an end after the company announced an update to fix one of its most irritating quirks.

Going forward, the default option when pasting into a Word document from other programs will to be to merge the formatting.

Previously, copying text into a Microsoft Word document from another source was somewhat of a minefield, as depending on its origin, the formatting of said text could be markedly different.

Microsoft Word formatting

Simply copying and pasting a few words into your existing carefully-crafted document was prone to causing an explosion of formatting chaos, with users unable to sync up their fonts or alignment, wasting valuable time on pasting formatting across paragraphs or pages.

Users will be able to check that merge formatting is the default option via the usual Paste Options menu (File > Options > Advanced > Cut, copy, and paste) with the ability to try different paste options (as before) with the previous Keep Source Formatting option still available, as well as Paste as Picture and Keep Text Only.

"Paste is one of the top user actions in Word, but it can also take up a lot of time," Ali Forelli, a Product Manager on the Microsoft Word team, wrote in a blog post announcing the change, tongue most likely firmly in cheek

"Do you ever paste content into your document, only to spend countless minutes manually fixing all the formatting of the pasted content? Do you wish you could bring content into your document and have it match the look and feel of the rest of your content?"

Forelli added the change will also mean pasted text keeps formatting from the original source "that has meaning" - for example, if it is in bold or italics, or part of a list or table.

The feature is available now to Word for Windows users running Version 2405 (Build 17624.20000) or later, but isn't on offer for Word for the web or Word for Mac just yet.

Hopefully the move will soon be mirrored by the likes of Google Docs, which does still struggle with copying formatted text. Microsoft did also recently support the Control + Shift + V shortcut, allowing users paste text without zero formatting, and the fact that this latest change comes after years of complaints might suggest big tech is finally listening to its user's biggest gripes after all.

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Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.