Our guide to the term "copy and paste".
You may have noticed that our advice pages highly recommend using copy and paste when designing label templates so here's our guide to what “copy and paste” means and how it works.
“Copy and paste” actually refers to two separate computer functions that are combined to transfer data from one place to another – first by “copying” an item and then “pasting” that item elsewhere.
There are THREE computer functions that can be used to transfer data:
CUT, COPY, and PASTE
These three individual functions are used to transfer data in one of two ways – either by using the cut function followed by the paste function (known as “cut and paste”) or by using the copy function followed by the paste function (known as “copy and paste”).
In other words, cut and copy indicate the item(s) that you want to transfer and paste actually transfers the item(s). These functions can be used to transfer all kinds of data, including images, text, or entire files and/or folders.
- CUT: a selected item is removed – or cut – from its original location and is placed in a temporary storage tool on your device known as the “clipboard”.
- COPY: a selected item is duplicated – or copied – so that the item remains in its original location, while the duplicate is placed in the clipboard.
- PASTE: the most recent item stored in the clipboard is inserted into the new location that you have selected.
Cut and paste were named after the traditional process of editing manuscripts, where an editor would use scissors to cut paragraphs out of a page and would then use paste (glue) to stick the paragraphs onto a new page.
CUT AND PASTE vs COPY AND PASTE
While both processes can be used to transfer data, cut and paste REMOVES data from its original location whereas copy and paste LEAVES data in its original location.
In other words, only copy and paste will duplicate your item(s), which makes it the ideal tool for designing templates for labels on sheets – you can transfer data into your template (for example, by copying text from another document) and duplicate your design from one label into all of the remaining labels in your template.
We recommend designing templates in this way because it improves the accuracy of your template; if you set up your design in each label from scratch it is possible that you might not line up your design in exactly the same position each time – whereas, if you set up your design in the top left label and use copy and paste to complete the rest of the labels they will all be set up in exactly the same position within each label.
HOW TO CUT, COPY, & PASTE
Cut, copy, and paste are standard functions that can be used to transfer data in a number of ways (including within a single document/piece of software/folder OR between different documents/pieces of software/folders), and there are a variety of ways to perform these functions.
First you select your item(s):
- Individual Item: left click once on the item using your mouse.
- Multiple Items: hold down the Control Key (Ctrl) [Windows] or Command Key (⌘) [Mac] on your keyboard as you left click once on each item using your mouse.
- Multiple Items (List): left click once on the first item using your mouse then hold down the Shift Key on your keyboard as you left click once on the last item using your mouse.
- Text: move your mouse so the cursor is positioned at the start of the text you want to select, press and hold down the left button on your mouse, then move your mouse so the cursor is positioned at the end of the text you want to select and let go.
PC Keyboard via Wikimedia Commons & Apple Keyboard By Wiki637 via Wikimedia Commons
The Point & Click Method
This method involves using your mouse to click on cut, copy, and paste menu options or icons. Most software will allow you to access these functions using the left or right button on your mouse.
If you are using a one-button mouse with a Mac or a Macbook trackpad, you can access the right click function by holding down the Control Key on your keyboard as you click your mouse or tap on the trackpad.
Left Click: usually these functions are listed under the “Edit” menu at the top/left of your window, although there are exceptions (for example, in most versions of Word, they are listed under the “Home” tab in the ribbon at the top of the window).
Right Click: some software will display a popup box containing a selection of relevant tools when you right click on an item or location. For example, if you right click on text in Word you will see the below popup box.
Drag & Drop
This method involves using your mouse to drag an item from one location to another. This method can be used to cut and paste or copy and paste; while it is especially popular for transferring data between two different documents/pieces of software/folders, it can also be used to transfer data within a single document/piece of software/folder.
To drag an item, you simply select it and then hold down the left button on your mouse as you move your cursor to the new location. You then drop your item into its new location by releasing the button.
Generally speaking, this sequence will perform the “cut and paste” process – to “copy and paste”, you simply hold down the Control Key (Windows) or Option Key (Mac) on your keyboard while you drag and drop your item.
You should be able to check if you are about to “cut and paste” or “copy and paste” by looking at the prompt or icon that appears onscreen as you drag your cursor to the new location.
For example, when transferring a file between two folders in Window’s File Explorer, the prompt will say “Move to [new location]” if you are using “cut and paste” or “Copy to [new location]” if you are using “copy and paste” .
In Word, you will a small icon beside your cursor as you drag an item to a new location; if you are using “cut and paste” this will be a rectangle, while if you are using “copy and paste” this will be a rectangle with a plus sign, as shown below.
As cut, copy, and paste are such popular functions, there are keyboard shortcuts that can be used instead of the Point & Click and Drag & Drop methods.
hold down the Control Key (Ctrl) and press X to cut, C to copy, or V to paste.
hold down the Command Key (⌘) and then press X to cut, C to copy, or V to paste.
If you’ve never used cut, copy, and paste before it can be quite confusing BUT these tools are incredibly useful when it comes to creating accurate label templates quickly. Hopefully, this guide should have given you a better understanding of what these functions are and how they work.