Use Word's Format Painter to Copy Formatting

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Microsoft Word power users understand the advantages of using the often-overlooked Format Paintertool to copy the formatting of text or paragraphs from one area of their document to other areas of the document. This tool delivers real time-savings to users, particularly those working with lengthy or complex documents. The Format Painter applies the same color, font style and size, and border style to selected text.

Formatting Text and Paragraphs With Format Painter

Format one section of your document by applying the desired color, font size, border, and style. When you are happy with it, use Format Painter to transfer the same formatting to other areas of your Word document.

  1. Select the text or paragraph that has the completed formatting. If you are selecting an entire paragraph, including the paragraph mark.
  2. Go to the "Home" tab and single-click the "Format Painter" icon, which looks like a paintbrush, to change the pointer to a paintbrush. Use the paintbrush to paint over an area of text or a paragraph to which you want to apply the formatting. This works only one time, and then the brush reverts to the usual pointer.
  3. If you have multiple areas you want to format, double-click the "Format Painter." Now the brush can be used over and over throughout the document. 
  4. Press ESC to stop formatting if you are using the brush in multiple areas.
  5. When you are finished, click the "Format Painter" icon one more time to turn off the formatting and return to the usual pointer.

Formatting Other Document Elements

As for graphics, the Format Painter tends to work best with AutoShapes and other drawing objects. You can also copy the formatting from a border on an image.

Format Painter copies the formatting of text and paragraphs, not page formatting. Format Painter doesn't work with the font and size of WordArt text.

Format Painter Keyboard Shortcuts

When you are working with small areas of text formatting, you may prefer to use keyboard shortcuts.

  1. Place an insertion point into a properly formatted word.
  2. Use the Ctrl+Shift+C keyboard combination to copy the character format.
  3. Click on another word in the text of the document.
  4. Use the Ctrl+Shift+V keyboard combination to paste the character formatting into place.
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