The Hermit Hermit's Free Library  MS-Word

This article describes some very efficient alternatives to Cut and Paste to move text around in a document.

Moving Text in Documents

Cut and Paste

The Cut (Ctrl-X) and Paste (Ctrl-V) operation is good in many situations, but there are other techniques which can be much faster and more effective.


The Drag-and-drop technique works best for short distance moves and is less physically intensive than cut and paste.

(Drag and Drop can also copy text: hold down Ctrl before dragging).

Drag-and-drop really shines when rearranging information in tables because it makes it a breeze to shift around cell contents or entire columns. See Working with Tables

If for any reason a drag-and-drop operation goes south, recover by pressing Ctrl-Z (Undo) and then try again.

If you find drag-and-drop difficult to control, you can disable it by un-checking Options >Edit >Editing Options >Drag and drop editing.

Move Up/Move Down (Shift-Alt-Up/Down Arrow)

Move Up and Move Down are awesome editing tools which, like drag-and-drop, are primarily good for short distance moves.

Although the Outline view's Move Up/Move Down commands are designed to rearrange sections of text formatted with built-in headings, they also work with ordinary paragraphs.

In either Print layout or Normal views, pressing Shift-Alt and either the Up or Down arrow moves the paragraph in which the insertion point is located above or below the previous or following paragraphs, respectively.

This method is also an incredibly time-saving way of moving rows up or down in a table.

Unlike both Clipboard and Drag-and-Drop, Move Up and Move Down don't require you to select a paragraph first - just putting the insertion point in the paragraph is sufficient.

(If you want to move two or move paragraphs at the same time they must be selected).

Another advantage of Move Up and Move Down is that you can move text around without disturbing the contents of the Clipboard.

Note that Word occasionally gets confused by the Move Up or Move Down commands and this can lead to unexpected results. If that happens, just press Ctrl-Z, Undo.

Power-user Tip
Use Move Up or Move Down to rearrange the sentences within a paragraph: use the Enter key to break the sentences down into separate paragraphs, move the paragraphs with Move Up or Move Down, and then reunite the sentences into a single paragraph again by using Del to delete the extra paragraph boundary.

Heading Styles and Outline view

Using Outline view with a document formatted using Heading styles is the absolute best way to move around text in most situations. It faster, easier, and more accurate than Cut and Paste.

          **Word exercise 2-4 shows you how to apply built-in
          heading styles and use them to organize a document 
          in Outline view