How to Use the "Spike" in Word 2010

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One feature of Microsoft Word that a lot of people don’t know about, is something called the Spike; it’s a way of collecting text onto a virtual spike from various sources, and then pasting it all at once into a document you specify.

It’s called the Spike because it emulates the old fashioned metal spike that people once used for storing papers; you just shoved a piece of paper on to it and the spike drove a hole through it, causing the piece of paper to be impaled and thus stick to the spike. Well, Microsoft created a virtual spike that you can use to do the same thing with your computer.

In some respects, the Spike is like the clipboard in that things can be copied to it, but unlike the clipboard the stuff that is added to the Spike keeps piling up.

To see how the Spike works, start with an open empty document, then add some dummy text, like this:

Then, highlight some text, like this:

…then press Ctrl-F3 on your keyboard to move the stuff you’ve selected, to the spike.

Note: An unfortunate side effect of this process is that the stuff you copy to the spike is actually moved, not copied to it, so if you want it copied instead, simply copy it to the clipboard before adding to the spike, then paste it back in after spiking.

Once you’ve added some text, do it all again with some more text, highlighting and pressing Ctrl-F3, to add it to the Spike each time. You can keep copying and adding as much as you like; then when you’re ready to dump the whole thing (remove all your virtual papers from the spike), hit Ctrl-Shift-F3, to dump everything on the spike into your current document. If you want, you can even open another document, and dump it all into that one instead.

Note: Dumping your Spike causes the contents of the Spike to be emptied.

If you’d like to dump the contents of your Spike into a document without removing it from the Spike, go to your document and type the word spike, you should get a little bubble like this:

If you press the Enter key, the contents of your Spike will be copied to the current location in your document.

To see how the Spike works, go to Insert, then choose Quick Parts, then Building Blocks Organizer; there in the list you should see this:

This shows that the Spike is actually nothing more than another use of Word’s QuickParts feature.

The Spike feature in Word can be used to create a new document out of one or more old documents without having to repeatedly paste the new stuff into the new document; it can also be used to collect bits of a document for analysis later on. In either case, the original documents can be preserved by closing them without saving.

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