Jul 8 2010

Quick Formatting Using Excel’s Format Painter

Formatting an entire spreadsheet to look just the way you desire can take longer than you’d expect. Clicking back and forth between the formatting options, usually repetitively, can possibly move the completion time of your project back. Excel does provide a quick way to copy a cell’s formatting and paste it to another cell or range of cells. Enter the Format Painter.


Using the Format Painter
The easiest way to describe the format painter is to show you how it works. Let’s walk through a few steps to show off it’s usefulness.

  1. Type text in 2 different cells that you want to copy the formatting from and to.
  2. Select your first cell on your spreadsheet making several formatting changes (ie. Bold, change font color, change the background color, etc.)
  3. Click on the Format Painter icon in the standard toolbar at the top of your spreadsheet (looks like a paintbrush).
  4. Now select the second cell that current has no formatting. Notice that before you clicked, the cursor had a paintbrush next to it. This tells you that when you click you will be copying the formatting from the previous cell

And that’s it. When you get used to using this feature of Excel, it can definitely speed up any project you’re working on. Imagine not have to replicate all of the clicks you made while formatting the first cell. With 2 clicks, it will now be copied exactly for you.

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15 Comments on this post


  1. Merv said:

    Also if you double click the painter icon you can change the format of more than one cell – Holds the painter function untill you use ESC or click the painter icon again.

    Very handy function to use.

    July 8th, 2010 at 7:48 pm
  2. john said:

    Thanks Merv for the great tip!

    July 8th, 2010 at 11:20 pm
  3. Prasad said:

    Thanks for info. it is G8 help to me at work.

    July 8th, 2010 at 11:31 pm
  4. used tires said:

    Wow, this is definitely gonna help me a bunch! Great follow up as well Merv.

    Till then,


    August 1st, 2010 at 1:55 am
  5. Automobile India said:

    Excel restores the normal cursor. If you need to apply the formatting to multiple cells or ranges, double-click the Format Painter button to lock it, when finished click the Format Painter button again to unlock it.

    August 2nd, 2010 at 4:52 am
  6. car battery said:

    Thanks, I don’t think I ever even noticed the Painter icon in Excel. It was quite difficult to do without this tool.

    August 4th, 2010 at 6:16 am
  7. cannes rental said:

    Thanks, I really don’t believe I actually even noticed the Painter icon in Excel. It was pretty difficult to complete not having this application.

    August 8th, 2010 at 12:47 pm
  8. Debby said:

    The format painter tool works in all versions of Excel as described above by Merv! The useful thing about double clicking to turn the tool on is that you can move around in different worksheets and even workbooks – taking your formatting where ever you go! The tool also works in Word, PowerPoint, Visio and I think in Outlook as well so its a real gem of a tool.

    August 9th, 2010 at 1:52 pm
  9. computer support said:

    I love all the posts related to Excel. It increase my knowledge and help me to make impression in front of my boss. Thanks a lot for such good tips. I didn’t before about it.

    August 14th, 2010 at 1:06 pm
  10. Automobile India said:

    You have a fantastic article here, very helpful. Very well written I shall be bookmarking your website and subscribing to your feed so i can regularly read content of this quality.

    September 2nd, 2010 at 12:01 am
  11. Memorial Video said:

    I think format painter can play the key role while someone is doing task in bulk. It can save more time by its copy and paste advantage.
    Even it copied same field with formulas.

    September 14th, 2010 at 5:55 am
  12. Underfloor heating mats said:

    That features a good deal of exterior inbound links. Now I’m getting a message that a few of the inbound links cannot be up to date. I can see that the issue back links are to bogus paperwork. But I can not come across the inbound links them selves’. Is there a command in Excel that can lead me back again towards the inbound links that can not be updated?

    October 2nd, 2010 at 8:12 am
  13. Computergaga said:

    You always remember where you were the day you learnt Format Painter. What a gem of a tool.

    May 2nd, 2011 at 2:36 am
  14. Vi said:

    I really NEED a way to use format painter multiple times on nonadjacent cells. I do NOT like the fact I have to go UP to the icons and to use the format painter each and every time I need to paint the format to different cells in a spreadsheet. It is not a shortcut to me to have to click on the format painter for every single instance it is needed. Also, Why can’t we have the tear away tools (like in Excel 2003) to have them closer to the active part of the spreadsheet that needs changes?

    September 30th, 2011 at 8:14 am
  15. vyking said:

    Vi :
    double click on the format painter tool. then you can format multiple cells.

    May 30th, 2012 at 1:26 am


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