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Copying formats using Format Painter

Unless otherwise noted, all instructions and screenshots are from Microsoft Office for Windows.

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 (on the Formatting toolbar/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.

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.

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.)

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.

by 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.

WOW – You read that whole post!

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