Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
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One of common task in Microsoft Office programs is duplicating the
look of text, cells, or even shapes to another area of a file. Instead
of manually trying to copy the format you want to each part of your
work, use the Format Painter. Available in each of the programs
Microsoft Office (Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003 and earlier),
the Format Painter is a quick way to copy formatting from one item--such
as a heading in Word, a cell in Excel, or even an object or shape in
PowerPoint to another. Even though the Format Painter has been available
for many years, it might be the most helpful feature you've never used.
How the Format Painter Works
Whether you are using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, or even
Access, the Format Painter works the same basic way:
- First, select the "good stuff", that is, the text, cells, or
object with the formatting you want to duplicate.
- Next, look for a yellow paintbrush tool on the Home tab of the
Ribbon for an Office 2010 or Office 2007 program. The Format Painter
icon is found on the Standard toolbar in Office 2003.
- Click once on the Format Painter paintbrush tool. Your mouse
pointer turns into a paintbrush icon.
- Finally, move to and select or click and drag on the text,
cells, or objects you want to take on (or be "painted" with) the
Bonus Tip: If you want to apply the same formatting to more
than one item, select the formatting you want (steps 1 and 2 above), and
double-click the Format Painter tool. Then select the item you want to
apply formatting to. You can continue to repeatedly apply formatting as
long as you want. Press [Esc] to cancel or click on the tool
again to turn it off.
Why the Format Painter?
Let's say you've written a long report or other document in Word. You
like the look, especially your headings. Now, the challenge is to
duplicate the look of the headings to all of the other titles in your
report. The solution for many Word experts could be to apply styles.
Creating and using styles are a fabulous time-saver for long, repetitive
documents but are often unnecessary for many types of work. Plus, most
Word users don't know how to quickly work with styles and other Office
programs don't support styles as fully as in Word.
Using the Format Painter in Microsoft Word
To copy formatting with the Format Painter in Microsoft Word, do one
of the following:
To copy both paragraph attributes (such as alignment, indentation,
spacing, etc.) and character attributes (such as font size and style),
select the text which has the formatting you want to copy plus the
paragraph mark following the text. To copy only character attributes,
select the text without selecting the paragraph mark.
Tip: To turn on or off the display of paragraph marks and
other non-printing characters in Word, click the Show/Hide button or
press [Ctrl] + *.
- Click the Format Painter button.
- Drag the paintbrush pointer to select the text you want to apply
the formatting to. The text takes on the new formatting.
Using the Format Painter in Microsoft Excel
To quickly copy formatting of cells (such as borders, number formats,
background color) and to apply that formatting to other cells:
- Select a cell with the formatting you want to copy.
- Do one of the following:
To copy the formatting to a single cell or range of cells, click the
Format Painter icon, then drag the mouse pointer across the cell or
range of cells you want to format.
To copy the formatting to several cells or ranges of cells,
double-click the Format Painter tool, and then drag the mouse
pointer across each cell or range of cells you want to format.
- When you're done, either click Format Painter button again or
press [Esc] to turn it off.
Tip: To copy the width of one column in an Excel worksheet to
a second column, select the heading of the first column, pick the Format
Painter button, and then click the heading of the column you want to
apply the column width to.
Using the Format Painter in Microsoft PowerPoint
In PowerPoint, you can use the Format Painter to apply text
formatting and some basic graphics formatting, such as borders and
- Select the text or graphic or other object with the formatting
you want to copy.
- Click the Format Painter button to change the pointer to a
paintbrush icon. Double-click to apply formatting to more than one
block of text or graphic.
- Click the text or graphic you want to format. To apply
formatting to more than one block of text or graphic, select each of
them, one at a time.
You can quickly format your work in Microsoft Office with the Format
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
more about how easy it is to share these valuable tips, tricks, and techniques.
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Double-click the Format Painter icon
to duplicate formatting more than once.
|Activate the Format
Painter with the keyboard in Office 2010 and Office 2007 by pressing
[Alt] + H + +FP.