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 three 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 three paragraphs in one single cell.

There’s a simple solution to this problem: When pasting your text, double click on the cell where you want the information. By double-clicking, you’re essentially pasting into the cell, rather than just to the cell.

That may be a confusing distinction, 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 32,767 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. This means you probably don’t want to try pasting multiple pages of text into a single cell. If you want to keep everything you are pasting from Word, then you might want to paste it into a text box, instead.