Monday, August 18, 2008

Paste Without Formatting

InDesign and InCopy's Paste Without Formatting command (located in the Edit menu) is often overlooked. This command is really useful in at least two situations.

1. Imagine you have a 60 pt Bodoni headline and some 12 point Myriad body text. If you select a couple of words of body text, and try to paste it in the middle of the headline, the pasted text will appear with the 12 point Myriad formatting, when the desired result is probably to adopt the formatting of the headline. This where Paste Without Formatting comes in. All you have to do is copy the body text normally, then use Edit > Paste Without Formatting to paste the text into the headline. The formatting of the body text will be left behind, and the text will adopt the formatting of the new cursor location.

2. This command is also useful when pasting from other programs like Word, Excel, or email into InDesign. If you choose Preferences > Clipboard Handling, and choose "When Pasting Text and Tables from Other Applications, Paste: All Information" when you copy text from Word and paste it into InDesign, it will bring the formatting from Word. But if you choose Edit > Paste Without Formatting, it will leave the Word formatting behind and adopt the formatting of the text cursor location.

You probably already know the keyboard shortcut for Paste (Mac: command-v, Windows: ctrl-v). The shortcut for Paste Without Formatting is easy to remember. Just add the Shift key. (Mac: command-shift-v, Windows: ctrl-shift-v).


Chandra said...


i cant seem to paste without formatting.

i copy a body text frm pdf, and i dont want its two column formatting, but the 'paste without formatting' under Edit is not active.

im trying to paste into a blank text frame. i tried pasting in a filled text frame with my prefered formatting but it doesnt work.

any ideas how i can paste text frm pdf and get a neutral formatting?

Keith Gilbert said...

Chandra, choose Preferences > Clipboard Handling and make sure the option for When Pasting Text and Tables Other Applications is set to All Information. Otherwise, the Paste Without Formatting option will not be available.

Regardless of how you paste text from Acrobat, the two-column formatting should not carry into InDesign anyway, unless you are pasting into a two-column frame in InDesign.

Chandra said...

Hi Keith,

I dont have 'clipboard handling', because I am using cs2. however the same function is under 'type' in the Preferences. i selected 'text only' But the pasting I get is not neutral. yet it is also not two column as the pdf as you have pointed out. it follows the line breaks from the pdf into a long single column.

i tried applying paragraph style, but it doesnt work. the only way i can get it to fill the text frame fully is by manually backspacing at every the line break.

Keith Gilbert said...

Chandra, your last line gives gives me a hint to what is going on. You said "the only way i can get it to fill the text frame fully is by manually backspacing at every the line break."

Depending on how the PDF is constructed, text that is copied and pasted from a PDF into InDesign will often come into ID with line breaks at the end of each line. The line breaks are not "formatting", but "characters". So no amount of messing with the Preferences and Pasting options will affect this. There isn't any workaround for this. You might want to look at to help automate cleaning up the line breaks.

chandra said...

Ah, i see. Thanks for the tip anyways, will check out textcleaner.

thenooch said...

Just found a nice little Add-on for Firefox that removes text formatting when its copied to the clipboard.

Findmysite said...

Thanks for the Tips. If your source is a PDF, you can also save the PDF you are working on as a plain text file (Save As>More Options> Text Plain..). This gives you a text file which you can copy unformatted text out of without the shortcuts.

Mike M. Sy said...

i was using MS word 2007 and the command was CTRL+ALT+V.

lisak said...

How do u do this in illustrator?

Keith Gilbert said...

@lisak: I'm sorry, I don't know of any way to do this in Illustrator.

MEK said...


I am having a problem that my InDesign does "paste without formatting" automatically. When i paste text within InDesign, it loses all its formatting and takes on the style of where it is pasted. does anyone know how to fix this?

Francis Byrne said...

You can also use this guide to easily paste without formatting anywhere in Windows or Mac OSX.