How to Insert a Microsoft Word Document Into Another Microsoft Word Document

By C. Taylor

Several options exist to consolidate two Word 2013 documents. Basic copy/paste or drag-and-drop functions quickly replicate text in another document, but they won't establish a link between the two. Using Word's Insert Object function inserts text from another document and optionally establishes a link to the original file, so edits to the source document automatically appear in the copied destination file. You also have the option of adding a file icon that includes only a convenient reference link to the source file.

Copying Text Directly

One of the simplest methods of consolidating files is to use the clipboard. Highlight the text you wish to copy, or press "Ctrl-A" to highlight the entire document, and then press "Ctrl-C" to copy it. Click anywhere in the destination document and then press "Ctrl-V" to copy the text, including any formatting. Sometimes formatting problems arise (more on this later), but you can remove the original formatting by instead pressing "Ctrl-Alt-V" to paste and then selecting "Unformatted Text" from the Paste Special window. This window also provides a "Paste Link" option that creates a link to the original file, so edits in the source document are automatically updated in the destination file when opened.

Dragging and Dropping Text

Dragging and dropping offers a quicker method of transferring text between two opened Word documents. Highlight the source text and then click and drag it to the destination. Word displays a cursor that tracks your mouse movements, and when you release the mouse button, Word copies the selected text to this cursor location.

Using the Insert Object Feature

Using the Insert Object function places the entire contents of one Word document into another. Click the "Insert" tab, select "Object" in the Text group and then choose the "Create From File" tab. You can then "Browse" for another Word document. If no options are selected, Word includes the entire contents of the source file as editable text. However, selecting the "Link to File" option adds the text in a read-only text box that disallows editing, except within the original file; edits to the original file are then automatically reflected in the destination file when you next open it. Selecting "Display as Icon" adds a Word DOCX icon that opens the original file when clicked.

Inserting Text From File

Click the "Object" drop-down menu on the Insert tab's Text group and then select "Text From File" to add unlinked, editable text. This option serves the same function as browsing for a file in the Object window, but it doesn't give you the options to "Link to File" or "Display as Icon." However, if you don't need these additional options, using this approach saves you a few clicks.

Formatting Problems

Every piece of text in a Word document is assigned a style; if you didn't manually assign a style, the text automatically uses the "Normal" style by default. All methods of copying text, except the Paste Special option to remove formatting, transfers the formatting by default, but problems may arise if both documents use the same name for styles with different formatting. In such cases, the styles in the destination document are used in place of the original same-name styles. This is most often the case when transferring text from a file created by an older version of Word that uses different default styles.