How to Use Format Painter on a Word Document

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In addition to copying and pasting words, sentences, and paragraphs, Microsoft Word users can use a function called "Format Painter" to copy styles. Painting a format duplicates attributes such as font face, color, and embellishments to words, indents and line spacing to paragraphs, even certain options such as borders and line color to images.

  • Select words to copy character-level formatting such as font face and size; underline, boldface and italics; and highlighting and font color.

  • Select an entire paragraph, including the paragraph (¶) mark, to copy its attributes such as line spacing, bullets and numbering, and first-line indent.

  • Select an image to copy its attributes such as border line color and thickness, and shadow.

  • Click the "Format Painter" button, which looks like a thick paintbrush. This causes the cursor to change from a straight line to a line with curves at the top and bottom and a paintbrush beside it.

  • Use the mouse to select the text, paragraph, or image onto which you want to paste the copied attributes.

Tips & Warnings

  • The Format Painter does not always copy and apply all attributes. For example, it does not propagate an image's text wrap and alignment properties.
  • This process works only for the element you select immediately after pressing "Format Painter." To select multiple elements and continue pasting attributes, click the "Format Painter" button twice. When you're finished pasting, press "Esc" to exit format painting mode.
  • You can copy and paste formats using "Ctrl-Shift-C" to copy selected attributes, then "Ctrl-Shift-V" to paste them after selecting the target text, paragraph or image.
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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