I'm looking for an intuitive UI interaction that allows both:

  1. entering contact information as the following fields:

    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • E-Mail Address
    • Phone Number
  2. pasting multiple or all of those fields at once, then filling any remaining manually.

Maybe it's just a button that pops up a text box to paste into, but I'm looking for a better experience than that. Ideally something that visually represents the fact that we are pasting into the existing four fields on the page.

We also plan to parse the pasted information, changing from ALL CAPS to Proper Case, formatting the phone number, etc. It's expected that the paste buffer might have any sort of whitespace-delimited contact information that we'll automatically parse using thoughtful code. Examples include:

 "Firstname Lastname"
 "Lastname, Firstname<new line>[email protected]<new line>(800)555-1212"
 "[email protected] 800-555-1212"

Has anyone seen something like this?

The client framework is Angular 2 in the browser, but this interaction is fairly important to us, so we're willing to build it from scratch to run in our environment.

  • How is the user copying the various fields of data into the clipboard as delineated content?
    – Confused
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 17:10
  • Any whitespace would be accepted. I'll add examples above.
    – shannon
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 17:27
  • Have you seen how authorisation and serial number entry mechanisms work in the older, more expensive design software when copy-pasting?
    – Confused
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 17:31
  • No, I'm sorry. I think you are referring to software activation, but I don't know what UX you are referring to.
    – shannon
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 17:35
  • In the old days, we'd buy a product and then authorise it online, and that would give us a massive confirmation serial to enter into the product. The product would (often) display a series of boxes that delineated the content by 4, 5 or 6 characters, breaking it up for manual entry recognition... or you could copy paste the entire string into the first box and it would automatically spread out through the others. That's the easiest way to do this.
    – Confused
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


You're going to need to explicitly tell users they can do this, and provide a visual demonstration of the functionality, because this is extremely uncommon. There is almost nothing like this in this era of completely singular copy/paste thinking.

See Ted Nelson's complaints about this ridiculous reduction in the power of computing. He was, so far as I know, the first to think about and articulate in terms of copy/paste, and how it could be in computing. He became furious that it was reduced to a simplistic notion of a one item clipboard. And rightly so.

In today's era this is considered a rant, but well worth a read if you consider UI and UX to be your thing: http://dougengelbart.org/colloquium/session_09/session_09_nelson.html

  • It's a well-thought answer. I'll hold out for a solution, and try to remember to accept this if/when I lose hope.
    – shannon
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 18:29
  • 1
    Accepting, about a year later. :)
    – shannon
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 20:56

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