Cutting or Copying and Pasting

excel logoAh, if there are two words that I thank my lucky stars for almost every day of my life, they would be the words 'copy and paste'. OK, maybe not. Still, I could not begin to estimate the number of times during any given day that I use this oh-so-important feature. What I want to do here is to give you a couple of ideas on how to use it more effectively. But first I'll give you an example of one of the many ways that I find myself needing it.

One of the duties in my current position as the manager of the marketing and information technology departments of the company I work for is to be the 'point' person for collaborative presentations. Whenever individuals within our company need to collaboratively work on a presentation they will all create their individual pieces in whatever program they feel like using, then send those pieces to me for 'assembly'. Basically, it's up to me (most times with the help of some very talented individuals that work for me) to put these pieces together into a single, logical, cohesive presentation. This is usually an incredibly painful and tedious job, which is why no one else wants to do it. The source documents might be in Word, or Excel, or PowerPoint, or imported Adobe Acrobat files, or who knows what else.

There are ways to make it a little less painful. You would be surprised how often you can cut or copy and paste from one document or window into another. First, I'll show you the hard way. Open Word and type in the following text:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog


windows cut paste 1


Now, highlight the word 'dog' by placing your mouse in front of the 'd', then clicking the left mouse button and holding it down while dragging over the rest of the word:


windows cut paste 2


Now, go up to the menu bar, click on 'Edit', then click on 'Cut':


windows cut paste 3


Now, place the mouse in front of the 'fox':


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Go back up the edit menu, click on 'Edit', then click on 'Paste':


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It should now look something like this:


windows cut paste 6


OK, now let's try the easy way. Highlight the word 'fox':


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But instead of going up to the Edit menu and selecting 'Cut', using your left hand hit the keys 'Ctrl' and 'X' on the keyboard at the same time. This will cut the highlighted item the same as using the menu. Move the mouse to the end of the sentence, left click once to place the cursor, and again with your left hand type the keys 'Ctrl' and 'V' on the keyboard at the same time:


windows cut paste 8


Better, huh? There are 3 keys on the lower left of your keyboard you should be very familiar with, used in conjunction with the 'Ctrl' key. 'Ctrl' - 'X' is Cut, 'Ctrl' - 'C' is Copy, and 'Ctrl' - 'V' is Paste. If you go back up this page and look at the menu pictures again you will see these 'shortcut keys' shown on the menu next to the item. What's nice about this, assuming you use your mouse with your right hand like most people, is that you can use your left hand on these three key combinations while you manipulate the mouse with your right hand. Once you do this a few times you will get very comfortable with it, and you'll be surprised how easy it will get.