Copying Text Into a Word Document

Desktop Publishing: Importing
Writers focus on ideas, words, and sentences. Desktop publishers focus on presentation. Unless you are intending to change the typeface in your document (e.g., presenting a section as a letter or journal entry), maintaining uniformity in your typeface is essential. It provides the eye with an easy read and invites the reader to focus on those ideas and words and sentences you’ve created.

If you bring in copied text from another document and then continue typing from it, including hitting the return key to start a new paragraph, Word treats that as an extension of the previous text and its options. This is what is called
inheritance in the trade: when you type a hard return (the Enter key) at the end of a paragraph, the new paragraph will inherit the formatting of the previous paragraph.

You have to be careful when importing text from another file into a Word document, especially from another Word file. The copied text will often bring with it Style settings that may interfere with ones you have set up for the document you’re working on. The safest way to do this is what is called “the nuclear option.” This ordinarily involves copying the text to a Notepad file (which removes all formatting) and then copying the Notepad file into your Word document.

With the nuclear option, your imported text will come through in whatever style is in effect at the cursor position when you do the import. If it’s your Body Style, then all the imported text will be in Body Style. If your Body Style includes a first-line indent (most do), then all the paragraphs you import will be indented. If some of the imported paragraphs should have no first-line indent, you will have to put the cursor in each of those paragraphs and click on your NoIndent Style to fix them. It’s a simple two-click operation.

do use Styles in Word, right?

There are, however, easier ways to do this. In the source file, highlight the text you want to import and either select Copy from the Edit menu, or just use Control-C (meaning, hold down the Control key and press the C key). Then go to your Word document and use Control-Alt-V (hold down the Control and Alt keys and press the V key). This will bring up a little menu. Select the “Unformatted text” option and click on OK. This will copy in the text you want without any formatting.

Eric, a Goodreads author, has an even simpler solution. Place the cursor where you want to insert the copied text and right click. A menu will appear with three options that look like little file folders. The right-hand one will insert plain text. Click on that, and you’re home free.

Pasting in Word

For those Apple aficionados, Word for Mac offers an equally simple solution. Copy your block of text to be inserted. Click the Edit menu, then click Paste and Match Formatting. Literally and figuratively, you’ll be set.

Pasting in Mac

With any of these options, you will have to manually restore any formatting, such as italics or boldface, that you want to keep, but ordinary punctuation will come across as is (including real—curly—apostrophes and quotation marks).

Typefaces for Body Text

Rapidsoft Press a light bulb
When you are laying out the format for a document or manuscript, this is one of the most important choices you will have to make. You will make your choice depending on what kind of document you are designing: a short piece, such as a leaflet, flyer, announcement, or something else that will take up a maximum of, say, three or four pages, or a much longer manuscript such as a book.

For short pieces, a sans-serif typeface—like the one you’re reading here—will do. If you are writing for display on the Internet, these are really your only valid choice, because serif typefaces do not display well at the coarse resolution of today’s Internet. A sans-serif typeface is a good choice for things like flyers or advertising leaflets. Layout of paragraphs, pictures, photographs, or callout boxes are where the real design meat is in these short documents.

When a sans-serif typeface is called for, my go-to choice is Calibri. It just seems more elegant than Arial or Helvetica.


That said, there isn’t a great deal of difference between these three typefaces. Which you choose is a matter of personal preference. For my taste, however, Arial’s glyphs seem short for the point size (Calibri is 14 points, the other two are 13 points) and the periods almost disappear. Helvetica—although OpenType—appears to be an incomplete typeface with ligatures only for fi and fl, and the kerning is a bit sloppy.

When you have a substantial amount of text to set, you would do well to look to the serif family of typefaces. Tests show that readers can comprehend printed text better when it is set in a serif typeface than a sans-serif typeface. Even here, however, sans-serif typefaces do well as page headers or subheadings to set off portions of text where there is a change of pace. Using the same typeface for everything is, in a word, boring.

If you are content to go with the crowd, stick with something like Times New Roman for your body text. But remember: Times Roman was designed for newspapers, not books. To my eye, Times Roman—New or not—looks a bit frowsy, like the ladies in
Arsenic and Old Lace. Here is a short sample of Times New Roman:


For a more modern feel, try one of the newer typefaces that have been developed specifically for digital reproduction. The first such typeface is Minion, which was designed by Adobe typographer Robert Slimbach and released in 1990 as an Adobe Type 1 typeface. It is available today as Minion Pro. Here is a sample of Minion Pro. Nothing frowsy here!

Minion Pro

Notice the ligatures in the letters “fi” in “fix” and “” in “dicult” in these examples. You may have to insert ligatures by hand in Times New Roman, but good desktop publishing software such as Microsoft Publisher will create these ligatures for many typefaces as you type in text. This is a good reason to use your DTP software to enter the text into your document rather than using a word processor, such as Word, for this task. Word will not (to the best of my knowledge) create ligatures for you automatically the way Publisher will, even though they are both in the Microsoft Office suite.

Another nice typeface is Palatino. It has an especially elegant upper-case letter P, as you can see from this example:


If you are preparing a textbook, you might consider Century Schoolbook—that’s what it was designed for:


You will find there is an ample supply of decent typefaces to choose from. Be careful, however, and stay away from oddball typefaces. How would you like to have to read an entire 200-page book set in Ravie?


As for me, I generally stick to Minion Pro. It’s readable, has a nice light, airy feeling, and a decent x-height, all of which make for a good presentation in printed output. It’s a true jack-of-all-trades.