Excel shortcuts

How to Use the Format Painter Excel Shortcut

If you work with Microsoft Excel on a regular basis, you know how time-consuming it can be to format cells and ranges. Applying font colors, cell colors, number formats, and other formatting options can take up a lot of your time. Fortunately, there's a handy shortcut called the Format Painter that can help you quickly apply formatting in Excel.

In this article, we'll show you how to use the Format Painter shortcut to save time when formatting your Excel worksheets. Read on to learn more.

What is the Format Painter?

The Format Painter is a built-in Excel feature that allows you to quickly copy formatting from one cell or range and apply it to another. For example, let's say you have a cell with bold, red text. If you want to apply the same formatting to another cell, you can use the Format Painter to do so.

To use the Format Painter, first select the cell or range that has the formatting you want to copy. Then, click the Home tab on the Excel ribbon. In the Clipboard group, you'll see the Format Painter button, which looks like a paintbrush (see Figure 1).

Format Painter button in Excel

Click the Format Painter button, and then select the cell or range where you want to apply the formatting. The formatting will be applied immediately.

You can also double-click the Format Painter button to keep the Format Painter active. This way, you can apply the same formatting to multiple cells or ranges without having to reselect the source cell or range each time. To turn off the Format Painter, simply click the button again or press the Esc key on your keyboard.

How to use the Format Painter shortcut

There's a keyboard shortcut you can use to activate the Format Painter in Excel. Simply press Ctrl+Shift+C to copy the formatting, and then press Ctrl+Shift+V to paste the formatting. You can use this shortcut whether the Format Painter button is visible on the ribbon or not.

To keep the Format Painter active, press and hold the Ctrl key while you click the Format Painter button or press Ctrl+Shift+C twice. To turn off the Format Painter, press the Esc key on your keyboard.

Things to keep in mind when using the Format Painter

There are a few things you should keep in mind when using the Format Painter in Excel:

  • The Format Painter only copies formatting. It doesn't copy cell values, formulas, or other cell contents.
  • The Format Painter copies all the formatting from the source cell or range, even if you don't want to apply all of it. For example, if the source cell has a background color, the Format Painter will apply that color to the destination cell even if you don't want it.
  • The Format Painter only works within a worksheet. You can't use it to copy formatting from one worksheet to another.

How to use the Format Painter in Excel

Now that you know what the Format Painter is and how it works, let's look at a few examples of how you can use it in Excel.

Example 1: Apply formatting to a single cell

In this first example, we'll show you how to use the Format Painter to apply formatting to a single cell. We'll start with a simple worksheet that has unformatted cells (see Figure 2).

How to use the Format Painter - example 1

Suppose we want to format the text in cell A1 to be bold and blue. We could do that manually, but it would be faster to use the Format Painter.

To format the cell using the Format Painter, we'll first select the cell. Then, we'll click the Format Painter button on the ribbon. Next, we'll click the cell where we want to apply the formatting (cell A2 in our example). As you can see in Figure 3, the formatting has been applied immediately.

How to use the Format Painter - example 2

Example 2: Apply formatting to multiple cells

In this second example, we'll show you how to use the Format Painter to apply formatting to multiple cells at once. We'll start with the same worksheet we used in the first example (see Figure 4).

How to use the Format Painter - example 3

Suppose we want to format the text in cells A1:A3 to be bold and blue. We could do that manually, but it would be faster to use the Format Painter.

To format the cells using the Format Painter, we'll first select the cells. Then, we'll click the Format Painter button on the ribbon. Next, we'll click the first cell where we want to apply the formatting (cell A4 in our example). Then, we'll drag the mouse to the last cell where we want to apply the formatting (cell A6 in our example). As you can see in Figure 5, the formatting has been applied to the selected cells.

How to use the Format Painter - example 4

Example 3: Apply formatting to a range of cells

In this third example, we'll show you how to use the Format Painter to apply formatting to a range of cells. We'll start with the same worksheet we used in the first two examples (see Figure 6).

How to use the Format Painter - example 5

Suppose we want to format the text in cells A1:A3 to be bold and blue, and we want to format the text in cells B1:B3 to be bold and green. We could do that manually, but it would be faster to use the Format Painter.

To format the cells using the Format Painter, we'll first select the cells in the first range (A1:A3). Then, we'll click the Format Painter button on the ribbon. Next, we'll click the first cell in the second range (B1). Then, we'll drag the mouse to the last cell in the second range (B3). As you can see in Figure 7, the formatting has been applied to the selected cells.

How to use the Format Painter - example 6

Example 4: Apply formatting to multiple ranges of cells

In this fourth example, we'll show you how to use the Format Painter to apply formatting to multiple ranges of cells. We'll start with the same worksheet we used in the first three examples (see Figure 8).

How to use the Format Painter - example 7

Suppose we want to format the text in cells A1:A3 to be bold and blue, and we want to format the text in cells B1:B3 to be bold and green. We also want to format the text in cells C1:C3 to be bold and red. We could do that manually, but it would be faster to use the Format Painter.

To format the cells using the Format Painter, we'll first select the cells in the first range (A1:A3). Then, we'll click the Format Painter button on the ribbon. Next, we'll click the first cell in the second range (B1). Then, we'll drag the mouse to the last cell in the second range (B3). Finally, we'll click the first cell in the third range (C1) and drag the mouse to the last cell in the third range (C3). As you can see in Figure 9, the formatting has been applied to the selected cells.

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