Accessibility Agony Aunt #3

Katherine Turner

In the third instalment of the Accessibility Agony Aunt, we look at a feature in Office that may have appeared without your knowledge, the Paste formatting menu.

If you need a hand with your assistive tech, whether it is a screen reader, magnifier, speech to text system, mind mapping tool or anything else, you can ask the Accessibility Agony Aunt for help. Email your questions to - we aim to respond to all questions within a few weeks. Be sure to sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on new Accessibility Agony Aunt questions and other useful tips!


I am experiencing something weird when I press the Control key in Word. Sometimes instead of it stopping the speech it will say something about paste recovery, what is happening and can I stop this?




Hi Michael

Thank you for reaching out with this question. This is a common question asked by many JAWS users, but it is not always talked about.

In about 2010, Microsoft introduced a feature into the Office Suite so that after pasting items the type of formatting could be chosen, rather than having to do so beforehand. This relates to the visual style such as the font, size and colour that the pasted text is shown in. This paste formatting menu is accessed via pressing the Control key after pasting something.

This functionality only happens if you haven’t typed anything after pasting the content. If the text has been navigated via the arrow keys it is still possible to press Control and access the formatting menu. This menu can be dismissed by pressing the escape key immediately after pasting something.

The paste formatting can be a useful feature to ensure that the content you are using matches the visual style that you are writing in. Once the Control key has been pressed you can arrow through the options and then press Enter to select the one that you wish. To make sure the formatting matches what you are typing choose the “Keep Text” option.

However if you prefer not to use it, you can easily turn it off through the settings menu in each Office application where you don’t want to see it. If you know the type of formatting you always want to apply this can be applied at the same time.

Here’s how you can turn off the Paste Formatting options in Office 365:

  1. Open the Office application where you want to disable the paste options.
  2. Press Alt+Q to move to the Microsoft Search Field.
  3. Type “options”.
  4. Press the Down Arrow until you get to Options, then press Enter.
  5. Press Down Arrow to Advanced.
  6. Press Alt+W twice to move to the first item within the Cut, Copy and paste options.
  7. The first 4 items to tab through are the formatting styles that will be applied when you paste from different sources.
  8. To move to the option to turn off the Paste Formatting button press Alt+O until you get to “Show Paste Options button when content is pasted”.
  9. Press the Spacebar to uncheck this option if you don’t want the button to appear.
  10. Press Enter to apply your changes.