Use the Spike to Copy and Paste Text in Word

There is a little known feature in word that allows you to gather groups of text and/or graphics from different locations in a Word document and then paste all of that text into another location.

It is called the Spike and it is different in than the Clipboard, which allows you work with only copied set of text at a time. The Spike is named after an old-fashioned paper holder onto which people poked papers as they were done with them. You may still see the old-fashioned version of the Spike in use in some retail stores.

NOTE: The Spike feature is available in versions of Word from 97 through 2010.

To gather information into the Spike in Word, simply select the text you want to add and press Ctrl + F3. This cuts the information from your document and places it into the Spike. You can continue to cut parts of your document and Word will continue to add the cut text to the Spike.

NOTE: When you use the Spike, you are cutting or removing text from its original location, NOT copying text.

Selecting a paragraph

To paste the collected text, place the insertion point at the location in the current document, a new document, or another existing document where you want to paste the text. Press Ctrl + Shift + F3 to paste the text from the Spike at the insertion point. All the information in the Spike (not just the last text you cut into there) is pasted into your document at the insertion point.

Text pasted from the Spike into the new document

Pressing Ctrl + Shift + F3 also erases all the information in the Spike. If you don’t want to clear the Spike when you paste the contents of it, place the insertion point where you want to paste the contents, type “spike” (without the quotes), and press F3.

You can also view the contents of the Spike without pasting the contents or emptying the Spike. To do this in Word 2007 and later, click the Insert tab on the ribbon and find the Quick Parts button in the Text section.

Quick Parts button

Click the arrow on the Quick Parts button and select Building Blocks Organizer, if you are using Word 2007, or AutoText, if you are using Word 2010, from the drop-down menu.

Opening the Build Blocks Organizer

In Word 2007, the Building Blocks Organizer dialog box displays. Click the Spike in the list on the left to display a preview of the text and/or graphics the Spike currently contains.

Building Blocks Organizer

To view the contents of the Spike, if you are using Word 2003 or earlier, select AutoText | AutoText from the Insert menu.

Opening AutoText in Word 2003

The AutoCorrect dialog box displays. On the AutoText tab, type “spike” (without the quotes) in the Enter AutoText entries here edit box to quickly find the Spike in the list. The Spike is automatically selected once it is found and you can see the contents of the Spike in the Preview box below the list of AutoText entries.

Displaying the Spike in Word 2003

You may have noticed that when you pasted the contents of the Spike, there was an extra blank line between each item you added to the Spike. That’s due to Smart Paragraph Selection.

With Smart Paragraph Selection enabled, it’s impossible to select a paragraph without grabbing that final paragraph mark as well. You might want to turn off Smart Paragraph Selection to avoid creating blank lines between each of the items on the Spike. To do this in Word 2007, select Word Options from the Office menu.

Opening Word Options in Word 2007

On the Word Options dialog box, click Advanced in the list on the left.

Accessing Advanced Word Options in Word 2007

In the Editing options section on the right, select the Use smart paragraph selection check box so there is no check mark in the check box.

Unselecting Use smart paragraph selection in Word 2007

Click OK to close the Word Options dialog box.

Closing the Word Options dialog box in Word 2007

To turn off Smart Paragraph Selection in Word 2003 or earlier, select Options from the Tools menu.

Opening Options in Word 2003

On the Options dialog box, click the Edit tab. In the Editing options section, select the Use smart paragraph selection check box so there is no check mark in the check box.

Unselecting Use smart paragraph selection in Word 2003

Click OK to close the Options dialog box.

Closing the Options dialog box in Word 2003

The Spike is a useful feature if you need to quickly and easily rearrange and move non-contiguous text or create a new document from pieces of another document.

by Lori Kaufman

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Comments [8]

  1. Kat1110 says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I developed serious memory and cognitive issues in the past few years that would assert themselves at the most inconvenient of times. I need the written word and illustrations to get through my thick scull these days!

    I've had an on and off relationship with Word. When I inherited a laptop from my brother, it had Office 2003, and since I had been using Writer exclusively to that point, and even though 2007 was already out at the time, it was "new" to me. I still primarily used Writer though, especially after I purchased a new laptop and felt the cost of an updated Office prohibitive. I tried out 2010 beta when it went public and loved it. So much so, that I stopped using it when the retail pricing was released by MS! It seemed pointless to me to become attached to a program I wouldn't be able to afford. Then I came across a sweet deal and purchased 2007 which was upgradable to 2010 when it was released. While I find it incredibly intuitive, I'm a user guide person. I read anything and everything to become as comfortably knowledgeable as I possibly can. That said, I've purchased, and am currently reading, 2 books and 1 e-book on Office 2010. (I find reading different writing styles, better enables my understanding, depending on what's going in my life at the time, if that makes any sense.)

    After reading your article, I checked the index in each of the three books and guess what? No Spike! Not in a single one of them!! And all three are popular, well-known and well-written guides.

    I can't thank you enough for such a timely article for me. Cutting certain areas of my writing presented me with annoying little notes all over my computer where I would "save" it 'til I needed it somewhere else. Yet deleting it sometimes was even more annoying when I wished I still had what I had deleted! Now I have the Spike!! rocks!!

  2. oneshot719 says:

    it cuts not copies on mine, hmmm that's weird

  3. Lori says:

    I'm sorry if the headline was misleading. Yes, the Spike cuts your text rather than copying it. There is a note in the post pointing this out. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  4. mattdanger says:

    As written in the article above: "NOTE: When you use the Spike, you are cutting or removing text from its original location, NOT copying text."

    I didn't use Spike to move this text, so it is still in the original article.

  5. dexter says:

    I had no idea that this feature even existed. I have even lesser idea as to how useful can this feature be. Cutting text from one document to one single place?

  6. Mohamed Samy says:

    Very helpful. Thank you for the effort.

  7. Christine Hill says:

    The article is titled 'Use the Spike to Copy and Past Text in Word' but the article tells how to cut and past using the spike. This mix up is really annoying as I want to copy not cut to the Spike and paste. I'm pretty sure that I used to be able to copy to the Spike on a much earlier version of Word. Cutting to the Spike is not all that useful.

  8. Bob says:

    You can use the spike to copy and paste. After the selection of text to copy use the Ctrl + F3 key combo then before selecting the next lot of text or moving the cursor use Ctrl + Z key combination to cancel the last operation. This does not alter what’s on the spike and leaves the text in the original document alone. Alternately close the original document after the all the copy and pasting is done without saving it.

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