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Weekly Computer Tip # 90
27 November 2004

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Copy all formatting from one object to another (Microsoft Office)

One of the questions I ask on my evaluation forms (aka "happy sheets") is "What is your favourite tip you picked up today". Without fail people will say "format painter" if it was brought up during a training session. Hardly anybody seems to use this feature (apart from by accident, in search of the Paste function), yet it deserves recognition! 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've just counted!) If you want to copy this formatting to another cell it's only 3 clicks (not that I'm obsessed) by using the format painter. Or take Word. Ever found that automatic numbering can be an out-of-control beast? If you're still using Word 2000 (and I know many of you out there are!) you cannot just simply right-click on your numbered list and choose "Continue Numbering". However,

Did you know ...

The format painter allows you to quickly copy character and paragraph formatting or continue numbering your list.

Here's how:

  1. Simply click anywhere in the cell or text that includes the formatting to be copied (or has the correct number in case of that out-of-control numbered list).
  2. Click on the Format Painter button on the Standard toolbar. (The one that looks like a paint brush.)
  3. Drag the mouse pointer over the cell or text or numbered list item you want to apply the formatting to.

The formatting is copied and the Format Painter will be disabled automatically. But perhaps 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 on the Format Painter button and drag the mouse pointer over each item in each location. When you're finished click the Format Painter button again or press the ESC(ape) key.

Speaking of escape ... last weekend I had the Great Escape. Some unknown force fried my hard disk and as I'm such an expert on everything related to computers I had a full backup dated ... 3 October. Turned out I was (extremely!) lucky and we could recover all data, but I learnt my lesson. I must make regular backups. I must make regular backups.
I must make regular backups.
I must make regular backups.
I must make regular backups.
I must make regular backups.

Until next week.

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November 2004