Copying formats using Format Painter


If you’ve ever been working in a document (particularly one that’s been constructed with a lot of “cut and paste” from other documents) and wanted to make this paragraph (or this line or this heading) look just like that other one, here’s a simple trick.

In any version of Word (2007 forward) on the far left of the Home tab of the Ribbon, you’ll see a button that looks like a paintbrush:

Format Painter Button

That’s called the Format Painter button.  It’s a nifty little feature enables you to, in effect, say, “I like the formatting here — put it over there, too.”  This comes in really handy if you cut-and-paste something in from another document and the fonts/spacing/indentation/whatever doesn’t match the rest of the document.

How to use the Format Painter to “paint” formatting from one piece of text to another

Here’s how you use it:

  1. Highlight the text whose formatting you like.
  2. Click the Format Painter button once.
  3. Highlight the text you want to reformat.

That’s it!  The text you highlighted in step #3 is reformatted to match the text you formatted in step #1.

How to use the Format Painter button to replicate formatting repeatedly

If you want to reformat multiple blocks of text, double-click the Format Painter button in step #2.  That will enable you to copy that same format again and again in several places.  (To stop reformatting, go back and click the Format Painter button once more, and it will “toggle” off and allow you to edit the document normally.)

How to tell why formatting differs from one text to another

Say, however, you want to just be able to tell why one section of text looks different from another? Well, here’s the solution to that problem.

About the author 

Deborah Savadra

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.

But, seriously, I'm a law firm software trainer by trade with nearly 30 years of experience in and around law firms and their technology. This blog is my attempt to spread the word about better and more efficient ways to use Microsoft Office in a legal practice context.

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