4 Ways to Move Large Chunks of Content in Word


If moving paragraphs or entire sections of a Word document becomes a mess, try one of these four techniques.

Image: justplay1412/Shutterstock

Moving text around in a small document is easy and quite common. Whether you’re writing a business letter or the Great American Novel, you’ll find it easy to move small amounts of data from one area to another using copy and paste. However, when moving large chunks of content, such as entire paragraphs or sections, there are easier ways than copying and pasting. In this article, I’ll show you four easy ways to move pieces of content from one area to another.

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I’m using Microsoft 365 on a 64-bit Windows 10 system, but you can use an older version. For your convenience, you can download the demo .docx and .doc files, although all four methods are not supported in the .doc format. Word for the web does not currently support any of these methods. Most of these methods rely on built-in headers, a great reason to use styles.

How to Move Paragraphs Using Arrow Keys in Word

Whether you’re moving a paragraph or an entire section, you can do it quickly using a keyboard shortcut: Shift + Alt + Up/Down. When moving a paragraph, this keystroke will move the selected paragraph by paragraphs. Let’s look at a quick example; suppose you want to move the displayed video paragraph in Figure A until the end of the section. For that, proceed as following :

    1. Select the paragraph.
    2. Hold down Shift + Alt and press the down arrow as many times as necessary to reach the bottom of the section. In the demo document, it’s 11 times.

Figure A

Use a keyboard shortcut to quickly move the selected paragraph in a Word document.
Use a keyboard shortcut to quickly move the selected paragraph in a Word document.

Figure B displays the paragraph in its new position, at the end of the document. Use the Up Arrow key to move a selection of paragraphs up.

Figure B

It only took about a second to move that entire paragraph to the end of the Word document.
It only took about a second to move that entire paragraph to the end of the Word document.

It was easy, but if your version of Word uses collapsible headings, there’s an even easier way.

How to Move Paragraphs Using Collapsible Headings in Word

Word’s collapsible headers were added in Word 2013, so they’ve been around for a while. If you are unfamiliar with this feature, you may want to read How to Use Word 2013 Collapsible Headings later. For now, let’s use this feature to quickly move an entire section of the Word document to another. area, as follows:

  1. Select the section heading you want to move (Headings).
  2. Right-click on the header.
  3. Choose Expand/Collapse from the resulting menu, then choose Collapse Header (Figure C).

Figure C

Reduce the title.
Reduce the title.
  1. Select the header of the collapsed section (Figure D) and press Ctrl + x to remove it from its current position.

Figure D

Select the header to move it.
Select the header to move it.
  1. Go to the end of the document and press Ctrl + v to copy this entire section.
  2. Click the triangle to the left of the header to expand the section (Figure E).

Figure E

Expand the header once you've moved the collapsed section.
Expand the header once you’ve moved the collapsed section.

This technique is simple in a small Word document, but you might want to see the big picture.

How to Use Outline View to Move Paragraphs in Word

Word’s collapsible headings let you quickly move entire sections around. But what if you want to move paragraphs instead of sections? Outline mode will allow you to move paragraphs or sections. To activate this view, click on the View menu, then choose Plan from the Views group. In this view, look for the element symbols on the right. Simply click on one of them to move the corresponding section or paragraph.

To demonstrate, do the following:

  1. Click on the section symbol to the left of Layout (the section below the introduction).
  2. Now drag the selected section down the document (Figure F).

Figure F

Simply drag sections from one area to another.
Simply drag sections from one area to another.

If you try to drag a section in the middle of the content, you’ll make a mess. Always drop above the section you want to track the dragged selection. Remember you can always use Ctrl + Z to undo the move and try again. Once you hit it well once, you won’t forget. Click Close Plan View to return to normal view.

Word’s Outline view displays content, making it easy to find the sections or paragraphs you want to move, but it’s also a bit busy in a larger document. When you want to remove some of the noise, use the Navigation Pane.

How to Use the Navigation Pane to Move Sections in Word

The navigation pane displays the document by sections and pages. You cannot move pages, but you can move sections. G-figure displays the navigation pane. To show it, click the View tab and uncheck Navigation Pane in the Show group. (You can show the navigation pane in Word for the web, but you can’t move sections around this way.)

To reposition a section, click on the header and drag it. As you can see, I moved the Layout section to the end of the document. If you know you want to move entire sections, the Navigation Pane is much easier than Outline View.


Use Word's Navigation Pane to move sections.
Use Word’s Navigation Pane to move sections.

All four methods have value, and you’ll likely use all of them, as needed.


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