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Do’s and don’ts of using the virtual clipboard

by on
in Microsoft Office Training,Office Technology

If you have used Office 2003, you might recognize the terminology “clipboard” from an annoying task bar that popped up seemingly at random. Actually, the clipboard task bar only popped up when you copied multiple items in succession without pasting anything. In Office 2007 and 2010, multiple items are no longer gathered until you activate the clipboard.

How it works

Anytime you copy something with the copy button, select copy from the right-click menu or use Ctrl+C, it is held in the computer’s virtual clipboard. The next time you copy something, it is replaced, unless you display the clipboard.

If you are working in Word and open the clipboard (click on the dialog box launcher button in the Clipboard group on the Home tab), you can copy and hold up to 24 items. Position the cursor where you want to use an item, and then click the item on the clipboard to place it there.

When to use the clipboard

In Word, the clipboard works well when you’re working on contracts, legal documents or policy documents that reuse certain language. For example, say you want to reuse a confidentiality agreement paragraph from a previous contract on several new contracts, as well as a company description from your website’s About Us page. You could open the original contract, reveal the clipboard, copy the paragraph and close the original. Then from the website, copy the company description from the web page. Both now appear in the clipboard.

If you need to include elements from other documents or web pages, you can copy those as well. You can begin creating your new contract and use those inserts just by clicking on them whenever you need them.

Using the clipboard in PowerPoint is a lot easier than navigating back and forth through your slides when you want to repeat a graphic on several slides. You can also collect certain words and phrases from Word documents to use on your slides.

When not to use the clipboard

In Excel, it can be useful to copy and paste column headers and other static text. However, it can be quite confusing to understand how it behaves with formulas. It essentially copies the results of a cell and not a formula, so if you had a lookup formula in a cell, it would copy the results of the look- up not the formula itself. It behaves like a Paste Values operation.

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