Tidy up your formatting with Format Painter

I often compile new documents by gathering text from documents I’ve created in the past.  It’s just so much easier and more efficient to copy and paste text you know is relevant instead of starting from scratch.  To avoid bringing across unwanted formatting, I always suggest using Word’s Keep Text Only feature, but the next best thing is Format Painter.

Format Painter is essentially a copy and paste of formatting – available not just in Word, but also in Excel and PowerPoint.  For Word, I find it’s an excellent way to apply the styles you’re using without needing to access the Styles task pane.

Here’s how:

  • Select the text containing the formatting you’d like to copy;
  • Click the Format Painter button (Home > Clipboard) – your cursor will be transformed into a paintbrush icon;
  • Select the text you’d like to copy the formatting to, and your style / formatting will be applied.

Where you’d like to copy formatting to more than one place within your document, double click the Format Painter button.  You can then apply the formatting as many times as required.  When you’ve finished, simply click the Format Painter button once more, or press Esc.

For an even quicker solution, try using shortcuts: Ctrl+Shift+C to copy the formatting; and Ctrl+Shift+V to paste it.  Note however that these shortcut keys don’t work for Excel.  Instead, follow these steps:

  • Select the cell containing the formatting you’d like to copy;
  • Press Ctrl+C;
  • Select the cell(s) you’d like to copy the formatting to;
  • Press Alt+E, S, T; click OK.

As you’ll see, this process takes you via Excel’s Paste Special dialogue box, and only pastes the Formats of your copied cell.  If you’re like me though, you may find there’s too many keys to remember!  If that’s the case, stick with the Ribbon.