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Pasting Multiple Paragraphs Into a Single Cell

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Pasting Multiple Paragraphs Into a Single Cell.

David notes that when he pastes text from Word into Excel, Excel reads the paragraph marks as an instruction to move to the adjacent cell below, so that a block of Word text in 3 paragraphs, when pasted into cell A1 in Excel, will enter a paragraph into each of the cells A1, A2 and A3. David wonders how to paste the text as 3 paragraphs in cell A1.

The easiest way to do this type of pasting is to not paste to the cell, but into the cell. That may sound a bit confusing, but it needn't be. If you click a cell and then paste, Excel parses the Clipboard contents differently than if you double-click the cell. When you double-click, Excel enters edit mode, allowing you to edit the contents of the cell. (This can be done within the cell itself or within the Formula bar, depending on how you have Excel configured.) You can also jump into edit mode in a cell by pressing F2.

Once in edit mode, you can paste the multiple paragraphs into the single cell. The paragraph marks in the Word text are treated as end-of-line characters as if the text was entered into the cell with an Alt+Enter at the end of each paragraph. In addition, any font formatting or paragraph indenting will be lost with this method of pasting, and the cell will retain whatever formats were placed on it before the paste.

There is something to be aware of, however. Excel has a limit of 255 characters that can be entered into a cell. If you exceed that limit, then everything extra will be truncated. If the entry is long enough then it is possible to make Excel hang as it tries to figure out what you are doing, or even to crash. If you want to keep everything you are pasting from Word, then you might want to paste it into a text box, instead.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6736) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Pasting Multiple Paragraphs Into a Single Cell.

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Comments for this tip:

jim    19 Feb 2015, 05:11
how do you keep the formatting in the one cell including colours bold underlined text
Rajesh Kumar    08 May 2013, 00:40
any formula is available for next paragraph within the cell?
awyatt    16 Apr 2013, 09:49
Depends on the version of Excel you are using. This tip is for 2003 and older versions where the limit was, indeed, 255. If you click the link at the end of the article to see the corresponding tip for later versions of Excel, you'll find that you can paste in quite a bit more than 255.

Robert    16 Apr 2013, 07:14
Hi, I believe the limit of characters that can be pasted into a cell is 32 000, not 255.

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