The Spike is one of Microsoft Word’s most underutilized yet incredibly useful features. This extended clipboard allows you to collect multiple blocks of text and images from various documents, and then paste that content in one go wherever you need it. If you regularly move content around within documents or assemble materials from different sources, the Spike can save you a huge amount of time and effort.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn:
- What the Spike is and its key capabilities
- Step-by-step instructions for cutting/copying into the Spike
- How to paste Spike contents into documents
- Handy tips for getting the most from the Spike
- Common usage examples for the Spike
After reading, you’ll know exactly how to leverage the Spike to simplify reorganizing text, consolidating research, and pulling together content from multiple documents.
What is the Spike in Microsoft Word?
The Spike gives you an extended clipboard that can hold up to 24 items at one time:
- Items can be blocks of text, images, tables, or other content
- You can collect these “spikes” of content from one or multiple documents
- The Spike holds this variety of content so you can paste it as a group elsewhere
Unlike the standard Windows clipboard that only stores your most recent cut/copy, the Spike preserves several pieces of content for later use. You can paste from the Spike as often as needed without losing what’s stored there.
This makes the Spike ideal for:
- Assembling materials from different sources – pull together key text, images, and tables into one place without tedious manual copying
- Reordering content – easily move sections of text around within a document
- Consolidating research – compile highlights, quotes, and citations from multiple documents
The Spike saves you from constant highlighting, copying, opening documents, and searching for the location where you want to paste content.
Adding Content to the Spike
Adding content to the Spike is simple using keyboard shortcuts or the ribbon menus:
With Keyboard Shortcuts
- Select the block of text, image, table or other content you want to add
- Use one of the following shortcuts:
- Ctrl+F3 – Cuts selected content and adds to Spike (removes content from original location)
- Ctrl+C, Ctrl+F3 – Copies selected content and adds to Spike (does NOT remove content from original location)
- Repeat steps for all content you want collected in the Spike
- Select content you want added to the Spike
- Go to the Home tab
- Click either:
- Cut then Spike (removes selected content)
- Copy then Spike (does not remove selected content)
- Repeat process for each piece of content you want to add
Every time you cut/copy something into the Spike, it gets added to the bottom of the list of spiked content. You’ll see a small icon appear with a number showing how many items are now stored there.
Pasting Spiked Content
When you’re ready to paste content from the Spike:
- Place your cursor where you want the spiked content inserted
- Go to the Home tab
- Click Paste Spike
This will paste ALL content you’ve stored in the Spike in the order it was collected. Content is pasted according to the original formatting.
Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcuts:
- Ctrl+Shift+F3 – Pastes Spike content and clears the Spike afterwards
- Type “spike” and press Enter – Pastes Spike content but KEEPS content stored for additional pasting
The Spike holds your collected content until you manually clear it, so you can paste material as often as needed.
Handy Tips for Using the Spike
Keep these tips in mind to help avoid issues and get the most from the Spike:
- Watch out for duplicate content – Using Ctrl+F3 cuts content into the Spike. Be careful not to paste content in new locations without removing it from the original, or you may end up with duplicates.
- Clear the Spike when finished – Make sure to manually clear the Spike when you’re done with a project so it doesn’t get overloaded with unnecessary content.
- View Spike contents anytime – Insert an AutoText entry named “spike” to see current Spiked content. The entry will get replaced with a listing of Spiked items.
- Works between Word documents – You can copy content from one Word document into the Spike, then paste it into a different document.
- Handles images and tables – In addition to text, you can Spike images, tables, and other embedded objects.
- Preserves original formatting – Bolded text stays bolded. Italicized text stays italic. Text size, color and other formatting remains unchanged when pasting.
Common Usage Examples
Here are some of the most common ways people utilize the Spike in Word:
Reorganizing Document Sections
The Spike shines when you need to rearrange chunks of text within a document:
- Cut/copy sections of text into the Spike in the order you want
- Paste the spiked content where you want the content to now appear
- Clear Spike when done
You can resequence, move, consolidate, and reorganize without hassling with copy/paste for every block.
Compiling Research Content
Academic writers frequently pull material from multiple documents when compiling literature reviews, research projects, etc:
- Open each document and copy relevant sections, quotes, citations, etc into the Spike
- Paste spiked research into new document in desired order
- Repeat as needed to build finished product
No more flipping between papers and notebooks to manually transfer highlights!
People often need to combine relevant sections from multiple documents into a single new document:
- Cut/copy desired headers, paragraphs, images from the source documents into the Spike
- Open a new document and paste spiked content
- Reorder/reformat as needed
The Spike eliminates the multi-step process of open/copy/open/paste between each source document.
While simple, the Spike delivers immense time savings any time you need to rearrange or combine content from Word documents. It’s one of those underused features that once discovered, you won’t know how you lived without!
Now you know the ins and outs of using this amazing tool to facilitate cutting and pasting text in Word. Happy Spiking!