The blessing and the curse of Copy and Paste

Copy and paste are probably the two most commonly used features of any software, popularized by the Apple Lisa and Macintosh in the early 80’s. It’s now so popular we do not think about it and sometimes even do not know that when you copy (or cut) a piece of information, it’s stored in a place called the clipboard. Actually nobody cares as long as it works. However, copying and pasting can get some nasty surprises because of existing themes… Let’s for instance imagine I want to copy a PowerPoint slide from the left presentation to the right one.

The Copy and Paste default behavior

The default result in PowerPoint (same can go with Word or Excel) will be the following.

You notice a change of colors and fonts because the copied slide as inherited the presentation template. In some instances, this may be what you are looking for. However, you may, in others, want to retain the existing theme, colors and fonts.

Keeping the source formatting

You will need to paste while keeping the source formatting:

The exact same slide will be copied into the second presentation

Now, have a look at the small slide on the right, in the Slide sorter bar. You notice a small clipboard with (Ctrl) and an arrow. If you click on this arrow, you will have the opportunity to select on the options available, which in our case are copying using the destination theme, using the source formatting or copying an image in the selected slide.

All Office apps allow this kind of manipulation of formatting while copying, cutting and pasting. Time to experiment!

Show and Hide formatting symbols in Word

A Word text comprises visible and invisible symbols. Visible symbols are the letters you type. Invisible symbols are for instance the paragraph marks, the tabulation, the space, just to name a few. Hiding invisible symbols facilitates reading. However, showing them will help correcting formatting mistakes.

In the screen capture above, you see tabulation (the arrow at the beginning), spaces (the dot between words) and the paragraph mark. To show or hide those symbols, you just have to click on the Show/Hide button in the Home menu (¶) or type Ctrl+*.

How to speed-fill cells in Excel

I spend my life in Excel. Over the years, I came to learn quick shortcuts to make spreadsheet creation faster. There are many tweaks in Excel you can use to speed up spreadsheet creation. Sometimes, creating a spreadsheet is boring because it requires copying mutiple times the same value or same formula. Of course, the good old Copy-Paste works like a charm in most situations but I love the shortcut I am going to show you.

Imagine you want to fill a column or a row with the same value or formula. You can input the value in the first cell and copy-paste it in the other cells, or use the fill handle (the black square at the bottom right of a selected cell). However, this would require to move the hands off the keyboards after having types the content of the cell to use the mouse. Now, what if we could duplicate the content you just typed by pressing just one additional key? Well, this is what the following trick makes possible:

  1. Select first the cells you want to fill (note that the selection is not mandatory adjacent, so you could select multiple cells in various locations of your spreadsheet).
    Select Excel Cells
  2. Now, type the value or formula in the first cell. At that point, you should not hit Enter or any of the arrow keys. This would have the effect of unselecting selected cells.
    Input data in first Excel cell
  3. Fianlly hit Ctrl-Enter to validate your input.
    Hitting Ctrl-Enter fill all the Excel cells with the same value

The value or the formula is automatically copied in every selected cells. Simple and efficient! Ctrl-Enter is one of those keyboard shortcut you need to keep fresh in your mind.