Last week, I mentioned the Paste Special command. This week, I'll delve a little further into what that command can do for you. The good news is that it can be quite useful. The bad news is that many people are somewhat confused by the concept behind it. For example, last week I mentioned that you can paste a graphic from PowerPoint into another program. Ideally, you use Paste Special to tell the program the graphic you are pasting is a WMF (Windows Metafile) format file.
When you paste something and it comes out looking weird, it means you have a data translation problem. Basically, Paste Special tells the Paste command what type of file you want it to work with. By doing that, you can force the Paste command to translate the information the way you want it, instead of letting it just guess. For example, in Excel, if you do a plain copy and paste of data from one worksheet to another, it takes the formulas. Often in the new worksheet the formulas won't work, so it would be better if you could just copy the values. If you use Paste Special instead of Paste, you can. Just click the Values radio button in the Paste Special dialog box and avoid those ugly formula error messages.
Here's another example. Sometimes when you paste text from a Web page into Word, it looks like nothing happens. Generally the problem is that the text on the Web is white on a dark background. When you paste it into Word, it's essentially invisible because Word has attempted to retain the white formatting. To get around the problem, you can use Paste Special to tell Word to paste the text as Unformatted Text. This way, you get just the text without the formatting.
So any time it seems like the plain old Paste command isn't doing what you want, see if Paste Special exists in your program. This command might just offer some extra options to help you out.