Paste Special in PowerPoint

Paste Special in PowerPoint

Created: Wednesday, December 29, 2021, posted by at 9:30 am

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PowerPoint is an amazing program not only because it’s a great way to communicate and share ideas with others, but also because it can take content from myriad sources, and combine them all cohesively with visual unity.

There are essentially two ways in which you can bring content within PowerPoint — either by using options within the Insert tab of the Ribbon or by copying content from other programs and pasting within PowerPoint. In this post, we will explore the latter way, and also look at why you should explore the Paste Special option rather than using the plain vanilla Paste button that slide-creators typically use.

Before we proceed further, you must also use some PowerPoint shortcuts to make this copy and paste process easier. Here are some well-known and also some lesser-explored keyboard shortcuts. Mac equivalents are in parentheses:

Ctrl + C (Command + C): Copy
Ctrl + V (Command + V): Paste
Ctrl + D (Command + D): Duplicate
Ctrl + Shift + C (Command + Shift + C): Copy attributes
Ctrl + Shift + V (Command + Shift + V): Paste Attributes
Ctrl + Alt + V (Command + Ctrl + V): Paste Special

To find more keyboard shortcuts, explore our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts page.

We have provided more keyboard shortcuts than what we will explore in this post. However, they are all related and you can play around with all the shortcuts. In future posts, we will look in more detail at shortcuts for Duplicate, and Copy and Paste Attributes options.

Paste vs. Paste Special

Let us first explore how the Paste Special option is different than the conventional Paste option. When you use Paste, PowerPoint makes a guess about what would be the best format to paste your content within PowerPoint. For example, if you copy some content from Excel, should PowerPoint paste the content like an Excel embed or link, a table, or just plain text? In some cases, it may paste the content as an Excel embed or a table. Paste Special lets you decide what you want to do with the content.

Let’s continue working with our example of copying Excel content to the clipboard with this workflow:

  1. Launch both PowerPoint and Excel, and make sure the files you want to work with are open within both programs, as shown in Figure 1, below. Make sure to save the open files if you have made any changes. The keyboard shortcut, Ctrl + S (or Command + S, if you are using a Mac) should save your content quickly.
  2. Excel and PowerPoint open at the same time

So, what did we learn from this tutorial? We found that there are far more options available within the Paste Special dialog box than what you end up with when you choose Paste. So, do explore these options, and choose what works best for you.

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