5 Things YDKYDK About Microsoft Word: #3 – Format Painter

Have you ever spent hours reformatting a Word document thinking, “surely there’s a quicker way of doing this”?!  Well there is.

Blog #3: what is that little yellow paintbrush in the Clipboard group of the ribbon?

(Note: if you don’t know what a group or ribbon is then you’ll need to read Blog #2)

The Format Painter button is in plain sight on the Home ribbon in Word, however everyone seems to ignore it.  It’s in the Clipboard group along with Cut, Copy and Paste; tools which people use every day of the week.  However, Format Painter is generally neglected.

If you hover over the button, it actually tells you what it does.  It copies formatting from any piece of text in your document, eg numbering, bold, font size, etc, and applies it to another piece of text in your document.  So it’s basically a “quick fix” for sorting out troublesome areas of a document which haven’t got the same formatting as the rest of it.  Personally I find it a godsend for sorting out automatic numbering issues (providing the numbering has been set up correctly of course, and hasn’t been manually typed in).

Watch this video to see it in action!

If you’d rather just try it yourself, click on any piece of text in a document that has some kind of formatting applied to it – no need to highlight it.  Then, click on the Format Painter button.  You’ll notice the cursor now turns into a paintbrush icon.  Now, highlight a different piece of text in your document.  Hey presto, it now has the same formatting.  Magic!

(Note: for numbering you must highlight the entire paragraph, otherwise it won’t take effect, and remember it will only work on automatic numbering; not if the number has been manually typed in)

For any of you feeling smug at the moment because you already use it, one thing you might not know is that you can double click on the Format Painter button to use it multiple times.  You just need to be careful to scroll through your document only clicking on areas that you want to apply the formatting to.  Once finished, single click the Format Painter button to turn it off again or press the Esc button.

This is truly one of my favourite tools EVER!  Please try it out next time you’re having formatting issues in a document and let me know what you think.  I get fantastic feedback about it from people I train.

In my next blog, I’ll tell you about a hidden gem within Word for saving pieces of text you use regularly so that you can reuse them in documents time and time again.

Scroll to Top