Pasting into an APA or MLA formatted document

Use this tip to get APA formatted or MLA formatted text when pasting into your paper.

Microsoft Word is a very helpful tool for typing papers and other school work. However, Word can sometimes be too helpful, especially when typing papers in APA style.

For example, when you paste text or charts, Word attempts to maintain the formatting of the original source. This is usually exactly what you want. However, in an APA-style document, maintaining the formatting of your document is more important than bringing in the formatting from another source.

If you paste something from the Internet, Word will attempt to maintain the formatting that was present on the web site from which you copied the information. This is unlikely to match APA style, and you may wind up with a different typeface or font size, different colors and even different margins.

A less obvious, but more common problem is when you are working with another student and combining documents via copy and paste. If the other student’s document does not have the same formatting as your document, Word will attempt to maintain the formatting from the source, thus changing your document.

What’s the Copy & Paste Work-Around for Word?

There is a special paste feature in Word called “Paste Special” that gives you almost total control over the formatting of pasted text and charts. When you use “Paste Special” you can tell Word to apply the formatting in your document to the pasted item rather than using the formatting from the source.

To use this feature in Word 2003 or earlier

  • click Edit, Paste Special
  • Select “Unformatted text.”

In Word 2007 or later,

  • Click the small down arrow below the paste icon
  • Select Paste Special
  • Select Unformatted text.

See also: pasting charts and tables.

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