PowerPoint 2003: Dealing with the Paste Bug

Prior to PowerPoint 2003, when you copied and pasted text into a new location, the pasted text retained the formatting of the original text. In PowerPoint 2003, however, pasted text automatically takes on default text formatting, which is not necessarily what you’re looking for. There is no way to turn off this feature and therein lies the bug.


And it’s a genuine bug, an acknowledged technical glitch that for whatever reason has not been fixed. There is some good news: the problem is no longer an issue in PowerPoint 2007. For those who still use PowerPoint 2003, however, here are some suggestions:

  • Use the Paste Options button. The Paste Options button should appear by default whenever you paste text. If it does not, type Tools > Options > Edit  and check the Show Paste Options button. When Show Paste Options is active, a tiny menu button appears next to pasted text. Click on the menu’s down arrow and select Keep Source Formatting to retain the format of the original copied text. This does require several steps each time, but it works. Note: the menu button disappears as soon as you move off the pasted text or perform another task, so act fast.




  • Use the Office Clipboard. The Office Clipboard window displays the contents of the clipboard, items that have been copied or cut as you work (up to 24 total). Type Edit > Office Clipboard to display the Clipboard window on the right side of your screen. Click on an item in the Clipboard to paste it onto a slide (or into any other Microsoft application). Text defaults can still override, however (depending on several factors), so this method may not always give the results you want. But if it works, it will save time and may be worth trying as an alternative to Paste Options.
  • Use the Duplicate command. Select any item and type CTRL+D to place a duplicate of the item on the slide. To duplicate text, the entire text block must be selected (if the cursor is located inside the text block, CTRL+D will not work). While this may not be the solution for every instance where you need to copy text, duplicated text blocks do retain original formatting.
  • Change the default text formatting. While this can easily be done, it’s not recommended. If you change the text default to match the text you are currently working with, pasted text will look fine. But the paste problem will pop up again as soon as you copy/paste text that doesn’t match the new text default. And changing the default text formatting may have repercussions that could cause problems in other areas.


















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