Weekly Computer Tip # 343
17 June 2011

An oldie but a goodie - Format Painter
(Office 2000 - 2010)

Back in November 2004 I told you about the "format painter". More than six years later and I still meet lots of people who do not know about this wonderful feature, so I'm dusting off an oldie - but a goodie.

So what is the Format Painter and what can we use it for? Well, let's say you've formatted a cell in Excel to be red, bold, date formatted with a border around it. Ten clicks. (I counted!) If you want to copy this formatting to another cell it's only 3 clicks (not that I'm obsessed) if you use the format painter. It's also a revelation in Word, where it allows you to quickly copy all kinds of character and paragraph formatting from one area to the other.

Here's how:

  1. Simply click anywhere in the cell or text that includes the formatting to be copied.
  2. Click the Format Painter button (the one that looks like a paint brush) on the Standard toolbar (v2000) or in the Clipboard group on the Home tab (v2007-2010). (In v2007-2010 the Format Painter is also available from the Mini Toolbar.)
  3. Click on or drag the mouse pointer over the cell or text you want to apply the formatting to.

The formatting is copied and the Format Painter will be disabled automatically. But what if you want to copy the formatting to more than one item? Well, this week's bonus tip (for those of you who already knew the previous bit) ... simply double-click the Format Painter button and click on or drag the mouse pointer over each item in each location. When you're finished click the Format Painter button again or press the ESC(cape) key.