• Post last modified:January 23, 2024

CTRL+V, or Control-V, is the keyboard shortcut for Paste in the Microsoft Office Suite. In other words, this allows you to paste content with your keyboard, after you have used the Copy shortcut and/or the Cut shortcut. However, there is more to the Paste shortcut than most people realize.

First off, the reason why knowing how to copy and paste is such a timesaving trick (regardless of which programs you use), is it saves you from having to recreate content you’ve already have. Instead, you can simply copy, paste, and tweak the content. If you are brand new to keyboard shortcuts, the Paste shortcut is one of the first ones you should commit to memory.

The Paste shortcut is Ctrl+V on a PC and Cmd+V on a Mac

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How does the Paste shortcut work?

The Paste shortcut works by pasting whatever you have copied or cut to your clipboard. To be clear, before you can paste content using your keyboard, you first need to copy or cut something. On top of that, as you paste content between Microsoft office documents, the Paste shortcut gives you specific Paste Options. The Paste Options allow you to control the formatting of your content as you paste it into a new program, saving you even more time.

As formatting consumes 40% or more of your time inside the Microsoft Office suite, the better you are at choosing the correct Past Options, the more time you will save.

One way to know that the Paste shortcut is a critical keyboard shortcut to learn, is Microsoft tells you exactly what it is when you hover your mouse over the Paste command in the Ribbon. This pop-up tells you exactly how to paste with your keyboard once you have copied content.

If you hover your mouse over the Paste command, a tool tip tells you its shortcut is Ctrl+V

Where is the Paste Command?

If you don’t want to memorize the Paste shortcut you can always find the Paste command on the Home tab in your Ribbon.

The Paste command on the Home tab has two parts to its button, a top part and a bottom part

One advantage of using the Paste command in the Ribbon is that it is a two-part command (it has a top and bottom part to it). Clicking the top part of the command is the same as hitting Ctrl+V on your keyboard, as it immediately pastes whatever you have most recently copied.

Clicking the arrow at the bottom of the Paste command gives you additional options for pasting content in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Clicking the bottom part of the Paste command opens the different Paste Options as you can see in the picture above. You can access these using your keyboard shortcuts too, as described in the next section.

The other place you can find the Paste command is in the right-click menu. The Paste Options here simply display as icons, which you learn all about in the next section.

The Paste Options in the right-click menu display as icons

To expand your knowledge and learn a faster way to copy and paste content in PowerPoint, check out the Duplicate shortcut.

Paste Options Explained

The Paste Options menu is the most powerful part of the Paste shortcut as it allows you to control the formatting of your content as you paste it. This means that instead of pasting your content and then having to reformat it, you can use the Paste Options to immediately dictate the end formatting result.

How to Display the Paste Options Button

Your Paste Options display in the lower right-hand corner of the content you paste into your document (pictured below).

When pasting an object between your documents, the Paste Options button displays in the lower right-hand corner of your object, giving you additional options for pasting your content

The Paste Options flywheel (displays a clipboard icon and the word ‘Ctrl’) only displays the first time you paste your content. So, if you miss it the first time, simply copy and paste your content a second time to display it again. You can alternatively click the bottom part of the Paste flywheel to display these same options.

Since we are talking about shortcuts here, the best way to access the Paste Options is by hitting the CTRL key immediately after you paste your content into your document.

The number of paste options displayed will depend both on what you are copying and pasting, and where you are copying and pasting from. Copying and pasting a chart will give you different options than copying and pasting text.

The four most common paste options are:

  1. Use Destination Theme (H)
  2. Keep Source Formatting (K)
  3. Picture (U)
  4. Keep Text Only (T)
The Paste Options include Use Destination Theme, Keep Source Formatting, Picture and Keep Text Only

The letters in the picture above are the keyboard shortcuts to the individual options.

For example, if you copy a chart in Excel and CTRL+V to paste it into PowerPoint, you can hit the Ctrl key to open the Paste Options and hit U on your keyboard to paste the chart as a picture.

In the same way, you can use these shortcuts to Keep Source Formatting (by hitting K) or Keep Text Only (by hitting T).

1. Use Destination Theme (H)

The Use Destination Theme option is most relevant when you are pasting between different documents. For example, pasting from one PowerPoint presentation to another, or it could also be pasting from Excel or Word into PowerPoint.

Selecting Use Destination Theme means that Microsoft Office converts your formatting to match the document you are pasting into. Because this is the most frequent scenario, it’s the default option for pasting most content between Microsoft Office documents.

For example, if you copy a chart in Excel and Paste it into PowerPoint using your keyboard, selecting Use Destination Theme forces your chart formatting (colors, font styles, etc.) to convert to the theme of your PowerPoint template.

2. Keep Source Formatting (K)

The Keep Source Formatting option is best when you want to keep the current formatting of your object (chart, table, text, etc.) the way it is currently formatted.

For example, if you format a chart in Excel and want to keep its formatting the way it is in your Excel spreadsheet as you paste it into PowerPoint, simply select Keep Source Formatting. This keeps all of your current formatting the way it is, without reformatting anything to match the destination document.

Once you make this formatting selection, it is permanent. So, if you later decide that you want your chart to match your PowerPoint presentation, you’ll either need to manually format your chart or copy and paste it again into PowerPoint and select Use Destination Theme.

2. Picture (U)

Selecting Picture pastes your content (whatever it is) as a JPEG picture. You can copy a block of text, a table, a chart, or even a whole PowerPoint slide as a picture.

One reason you might want to paste your Excel charts and tables as pictures into PowerPoint, is so that other people cannot manipulate your data.

3. Keep Text Only (T)

The Keep Text Only option strips your text of all its previous formatting as you paste it into your document, allowing your text to take on the formatting of the object you are pasting it into.

Here’s an example. If you format a rectangle to have blue font and then paste red text into it, selecting Keep Text Only (T) will bring in the text and make it blue, to match the rectangle’s formatting.

4. Embedding and Linking Excel Charts in PowerPoint

When copying a chart in Excel and pasting it into PowerPoint, the Paste Options gives you two additional options to play around with: Embed and Link.

Pasting a chart from Excel into PowerPoint or Word, opens the Embed and Link Paste Options for embedding or linking your chart

Selecting one of the Embed options (Use Destination Theme or Keep Source Formatting), your entire Excel workbook is embedded into PowerPoint behind your chart. The workbook that is embedded into PowerPoint becomes its own standalone document with no more relation to the original Excel workbook.

If you embed multiple charts from the same workbook, you will be embedding a new workbook for each chart, which can quicky increase the size of your PowerPoint file.

Selecting one of the Link options (Use Destination Theme or Keep Source Formatting), the data in your PowerPoint chart will be linked back to your Excel spreadsheet. That means that when you update your Excel spreadsheet the chart in PowerPoint will update the next time you open the document.

The downside to linking Excel charts to PowerPoint files is that if you change any of their file names or their locations on your computer, the link will be broken.

Paste Formatting Shortcut

The Paste Formatting shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+V on a PC and Cmd+Shift+V on a Mac

The Paste shortcut is the root shortcut for the Paste formatting shortcut. All you need to do is add the Shift key to the equation to make it work, CTRL+SHIFT+V for Paste Formatting (CMD+SHIFT+V on a Mac).

This shortcut was originally called the Apply Style shortcut, but Microsoft has turned it into the shortcut for the Format Painter, which is the following two shortcuts:

  • CTRL+SHIFT+C to copy formatting
  • CTRL+SHIFT+V to paste formatting

This Paste Formatting shortcut does not work in Microsoft Excel. If you want to copy and paste formatting in Microsoft Excel, you need to use the Paste Special shortcut, which we’ll discuss next.

Paste Special Shortcut

The Paste Special shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+V on a PC and Ctrl+Cmd+V on a Mac

The Paste shortcut is also the root shortcut for the Paste Special shortcut: CTRL+ALT+V on a PC (CTRL+CMD+V on a Mac). Paste Special allows you to do a variety of neat things in the different Microsoft Office programs.

For example, you can copy a range of Excel and use Paste Special to transpose the data. You can also copy a chart or a graphic and use Paste Special to turn it into a JPEG or PNG image.

If you are using Microsoft Excel, the Paste Special dialog box is where you will find the Paste Formatting shortcut. Simply copy (CTRL+C) the range of cells you want to copy the formatting of, then hit CTRL+ALT+V to open the paste special dialog box. Inside the dialog box, select Formatting (pictured below) and click OK.

To copy and paste formatting in Microsoft Excel, you need to use the Paste Special dialog box, select Formats and then click OK


Knowing how to copy and paste content using keyboard shortcuts is critical for all knowledge workers to know.  This is because it not only allows you to paste your content and control its formatting, but also because it is the root shortcut for the Paste Formatting and Paste Special shortcuts (discussed above).

I realize that there is a lot to absorb in this article, so if this is all new to you, I recommend taking it slow, but committing to using these different paste shortcuts. The more you use them, the faster you will become.

The important thing about the Paste shortcut is that it works universally across every computer program (or just about every program). That means that once you know this shortcut, you can use it everywhere.

If you enjoyed the depth of this article, you will love our other PowerPoint resources and training courses. You can check them out here.

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Taylor Croonquist

Taylor Croonquist is a PowerPoint expert and trainer. Over a career spanning the globe, from consulting in New York and investment banking in China, Taylor has truly seen it all in PowerPoint. Through necessity and a natural tech savvy, Taylor honed his PowerPoint skills to the point of even blowing the minds of the Microsoft PowerPoint programming team. When he’s not busy crafting PowerPoint training, you can find him reading a sci-fi series or scuba diving.