As explained in this article, there are several different ways to insert content from one re-usable source document into another destination document.
The appearance of that content, after you’ve inserted it, depends on a few different factors – and that is what we’re going to tackle in this article, so you can choose the best insert method for your desired outcome. We'll cover:
First, if this is completely new to you, it’s worth defining a few important terms:
- Direct Formatting: This is when the appearance of text in a document is changed by directly modifying the character and/or paragraph properties of that text, like making the text bold, or adding bullet points.
- Character Formatting: This is a type of direct formatting change, where the properties that influence the appearance of individual characters are changed, by using any of the options you’d see in the Word ribbon within the ‘Font’ group:
- Paragraph Formatting: This is also a type of direct formatting change, but which influences the appearance of a collection of words at a time, by using any of the options you’d see in the Word ribbon within the ‘Paragraph’ group:
- Word Styles: Unlike direct formatting, where each property needs to be modified independently, Word Styles make it possible to apply both character and paragraph formatting in just one click, greatly accelerating the process of formatting your documents.
For example, if the main headings in your document should be bold, red, font size 18, in Arial, with a long space above and a short space below the text – that’s potentially 6 clicks for each heading if you’re using direct formatting buttons in the ‘Font’ and ‘Paragraph’ groups.
A much better and quicker way is to save all of these as a style in Word. This allows you to select text in your document, click on the name of the style you want to apply, and all of those properties get set instantly in just one click. Also, if later your headings need to be changed from red to blue, all you’ll need to do is make a change to the style and have the changes applied everywhere in the document.
You’ll find Word styles in the Home ribbon under the ‘Styles’ group:
There’s lots more to learn about Word styles of course, and you can find lots of great information on Microsoft’s own support site right here.
Word Styles play a critical role in document automation and in determining what happens when you insert content from a source document, into another destination document.
The following will have an impact on the appearance of inserted content:
- The source document styles applied to the content you’re inserting
- The source document direct formatting applied to the content you’re inserting
- The styles present in the destination document
- The specific style applied to your cursor location in the destination document. Please note that this article assumes that the location where you’ve placed your cursor in the destination document has been styled as ‘Normal’. If you insert text in a place that has a heading style applied, your results will differ.
To help better illustrate this, we’ll use two documents: a ‘Source Doc’ from which we will insert content and a blank ‘Destination Doc’ into which we’ll be inserting content. Each of these documents has completely different styles and themes applied, and here are a few of the styles that exist in either document that we’ll be using for our examples:
Source Doc Styles
Destination Doc Styles
If you’d like to try these for yourself, you can download the sample ‘Source Doc’ here and save it to your OneDrive for Business or to another location searchable with Qorus. You can also download the sample blank ‘Destination Doc’ and open it in Word on your desktop (no need to save it anywhere).
Outcomes for each of the different insert options
1. ‘Search’ or ‘Favorites’ screens: when clicking on the ‘insert’ button
- Where Word finds matching style names, the inserted text will take on the appearance of the style of the same name in the destination doc.
For example, inserting text styled as ‘Heading 1’ in the source doc:
will take on the appearance of the ‘Heading 1’ style in the destination doc:
- Where text in the source doc is styled using a custom style name and there is no style with that exact same name in the destination doc, Word will create a new style in the destination doc and merge the source formatting with the destination theme as best it can.
For example, if there is a ‘Custom style’ in the source doc that looks like this:
and this style does not exist anywhere in the destination doc, a new style called ‘Custom style’ will be created in the destination document and Word will merge the formatting so that it fits the destination theme, a bit like this:
- Where direct formatting has been applied to text in a source doc, it will have the same direct formatting applied when inserted into a destination doc (applies to both character and paragraph formatting)
For example, if ‘bold’ and ‘increase indent’ has been directly applied to text styled as ‘Normal’ in the source doc like this:
then in the destination doc, ‘bold’ and ‘increased indent’ will also be applied directly to the ‘Normal’ style as defined in the destination doc:
Here’s a screenshot of the source document and its styles:
And here’s how the destination document looks after the source doc has been inserted by clicking on the 'insert' button:
This is the preferred insert option for many because it allows the source content to take on the look and feel of the destination document as seamlessly as possible, with little to no reformatting necessary after it has been inserted.
2. ‘Preview’ window: ‘insert all’
You’ll see exactly the same behavior as if you’d clicked on ‘insert’ in the Qorus Add-in for Word ‘Search’ or ‘Favorite’ screens. See above.
3. ‘Preview’ window > ‘Page’ preview
- Clicking on ‘insert selection’ (after selecting text)
This is a lot like copying and pasting from a PDF into a Word document.
Word will do its best to merge some of the formatting but the results are unpredictable and unreliable.
You are likely to see weird line breaks and most of the text you insert will take on the appearance of the ‘Normal’ style in the destination document, and some direct formatting (like font size, or ‘bold’) might be preserved.
‘Insert selection’ from the ‘Page’ preview works best for very small selections of text. If you need more than a line or two from, its best to go to the ‘Web’ preview.
- Clicking on ‘insert page x as image’
This one’s fairly self-explanatory. A screenshot of the whole page you are currently viewing will be inserted into the destination doc.
‘Insert page x as image’ works well for graphical content that you don’t need to edit after it has been inserted and will preserve the look and feel of the source document (not the destination document).
4. ‘Preview’ window > ‘Web’ preview:
- Clicking on ‘insert selection as plain text’ (after selecting text)
In the destination doc, all the Word styles and all the direct formatting will be completely stripped. The inserted text will be styled according to the ‘Normal’ style in the destination document.
‘Insert as plain text’ from the ‘Preview’ window is best used for inserting paragraphs of ‘Normal’ body text. If you’d like to preserve headings and some formatting, it’s best to use the ‘Insert selection as rich text’ option.
- Clicking on the ‘insert selection as rich text’ (after selecting text)
This is a lot like copying and pasting from a web page into a Word document.
Word will do its best to merge some of the formatting, as it converts your selection from HTML to Word format. It generally does a much better job of preserving the structure of the content, like headings and bullet points, compared to inserting from the ‘page’ view or using the ‘insert selection as plain text’ option.
- Content styled as ‘Normal’ in the source doc will usually be styled as ‘Normal (Web)’ once inserted into the destination doc. (this is a built-in style that comes with Word)
- Content styled as ‘Heading 1’ , ‘Heading 2’ , ‘Heading 3’ , etc in the source doc will be styled as ‘Heading 1’ , ‘Heading 2’ , ‘Heading 3’ in the destination doc.
- Content that has been directly formatted will retain some of its direct formatting. The results can be a little unpredictable though.
Best Practice tips and additional information on the 'insert selection as rich text' option
Here's how the 'insert selection as rich text' works with custom styles. If you'd like to skip ahead to the best practice tips, click here.
How custom styles are handled with 'insert selection as rich text'
Content styled with a custom style in the source document will be handled as follows:
- If the source content has a custom style applied called '01 - Custom Style', and the style exists in the source document but not in the destination document, and this style is based on 'no style', like this:
Upon inserting it as rich text, this is what happens;
- a new style will be added to the destination document called '01-customstyle'. Notice that all spaces have been stripped out and all the letters are in lowercase.
- the text level formatting of the content will be styled according to the 'Default Paragraph Font' in the destination document.
- As you can see from the screenshot above, this significantly alters the appearance of the text in the destination document.
IMPORTANT If you'd like to make sure that your custom styles are carried over from the source document to a destination document, give them the exact same name, with no spaces and no capital letters. In other words, if the style in your source document is called '01-customstyle', then make sure the style in your destination document is also called '01-customstyle'. If in the destination document it is called '01 - Custom Style' or '01-Custom style', Word will not recognize that they are one and the same and will treat them as completely separate styles.
- If the content has a custom style applied called '02 - Custom Style', and the style exists in the source document but not in the destination document, and this style is based on 'Normal', like this:
- Upon inserting it as rich text;
- the content will be styled using the 'Normal' style in the destination document.
- no new style will be added in the destination document, since the '02 - Custom Style' reverts to the 'Normal' style upon which it is based.
Best Practice Tips