We are going to focus on using Format Painter in Word and Excel but the instructions apply equally to the other Office applications where Format Painter is available. First, though, Office 2003 users will need to enable the Formatting toolbar. To do this, launch an Office application, click View, point to Toolbars and then click to tick Formatting. The Formatting toolbar should appear just below the application’s menu bar.
Office 2007/2010 users will find the Format Painter on the Home tab, in the Clipboard group – it looks like a little paintbrush. Location aside, the Format Painter works the same across all versions of Office, and across all core Office applications. As such, the remaining steps of this Workshop are applicable to all readers.
For the Format Painter to be useful, the document or spreadsheet needs to have some formatting applied first. We are going use Format Painter to apply a colourful heading style to all other headings in our example document. First, click to place the text-selection cursor on some text that is already formatted in the desired way. Next, left-click once on the Format Painter icon: a little paintbrush will appear next to the text-selection cursor.
Now left-click and, keeping the mouse button held down, drag over the text that needs to be formatted. When the selection is as you want it, release the mouse button and Format Painter will apply the formatting of the text selected in Step 3.
If there are multiple text areas that need the Format Painter treatment repeat Step 3, double-clicking the Format Painter icon instead. This ‘locks’ the Format Painter on, so will apply the selected formatting to repeated selections. Either drag over selections as before or just click on individual words. When finished, press the Escape (Esc) key.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Format Painter can also be used to copy the formatting of certain aspects of any charts and graphics that may be included in Office documents. A picture’s border can be copied using Format Painter, for instance; but the tool will not copy font styles used in Wordart creations.