How to get Word to paste unformatted text by default

This is something that drives me mad. Why (oh why) do word processors (Word, Open Office) paste formatted text by default? Almost always what you want to do is to paste unformatted text, so that it matches the font of the document you are pasting into, not the one you copied it from. Anyone who spends a lot of time filling in job application Word documents will feel the need for this.

After ages messing around with the infuriatingly complex OS X key re-mapping tool Karabiner, I found a way of doing it in Word itself. (These instructions relate to Word 2016 for Mac.)

First make a new macro in Word. Go to Tools > Macro > Macros… and make a new macro called PasteUnformatted.

Paste this code into the Visual Basic editor:

Sub PasteUnformatted()
Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText
End Sub

Then remap the cmd+V shortcut by going to Tools > Customize Keyboard… then pick ‘Macros’ from the Categories list. Find PasteUnformatted and assign cmd-V to it, click on the ‘assign’ button, and now every time you press cmd-V it should paste unformatted text that matches the formatting of the new document you are working on.

If you want to keep the option of pasting formatted text, assign a different, unused keyboard shortcut, but I am so convinced that unformatted is the thing you need 99.9% of the time, I’ve just replaced it.

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18 Responses to How to get Word to paste unformatted text by default

  1. James says:

    It never failed to amaze me when I worked in FE how many students would paste directly from the internet into their assignments without bothering to change the font, size and even colour of the borrowed text back to match whatever they’d started off in.

  2. Kevin says:

    Thanks for this. For some reason, I can’t paste text into the Find & Replace box with this macro, but since Word 2016 seems to also recognize the Windows style paste binding (Ctrl-V) for pasting, I just use that instead for these situations. So Cmd-V is unformatted and Ctrl-V is formatted.

    Thanks again!

  3. Tim Hilts says:

    Kudos to you! You solved one of my biggest pet peeves about MS Word.

  4. RBF says:

    Thank you!! Huge headache averted!! You have blessed my workday.

  5. Julija says:

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Kris says:

    I wish I could buy you a beer for this. Worked like a charm!!

  7. Ivan R Flores says:

    Bravo!!! This solves a major productivity issue I had with Word! Thanks so much!!

  8. Garz says:

    You are a Saint. Thank you!!

  9. Antonia says:


  10. Nate dog says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Works great for word Mac 2017 and super easy. You rock!!!

  11. Trever says:

    Hi! thank you for solving this. When I paste your code into the editor I get ‘Runtime error 424′ and it highlights this line of code: Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText

    Any ideas?

  12. Thomas Munro says:

    Worked brilliantly for me, thanks. I share your astonishment that this is still not the default after 30 years. Worse, there is no keyboard shortcut built in. The one option a billion Word users actually need all day, every day is buried in multiple submenus. Meanwhile the default option turns every document into a hideous ransom note.

  13. Thomas Munro says:

    I’ve just found that the macro is no longer needed in Word for Mac 2016: simply use Tools>Customize Keyboard, search for “PasteTextOnly”, and assign that to cmd+v.
    The default paste with formatting now appears as ctrl+v.

  14. AK says:

    Can’t thank you enough!!! Much easier than my workaround solution…

  15. Geoffrey Wright says:

    Dude … you’re my hero. This works perfectly.

  16. Garrett N Evans says:

    Thank you so much for this! Was about to lose my mind.

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