How to Apply Formatting Across Multiple Cells in Excel

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Microsoft Excel 2010 cell formatting describes the color, background, font, size, border, security and text type of any single cell on the spreadsheet. If you have a particular format on one cell, you may want to extend that format to other cells without needing to access the format menu and make a large number of minor changes. Excel includes a feature called the "Format Painter" that lets you select the format from a single cell and apply that format to a number of cells at once.

  • Open the Excel 2010 file that contains the cells where you want to change the formatting. Right-click one of the cells you want to change and choose "Format cells" from the pop-up menu.

  • Select the tab at the top of the "Format Cells" window that corresponds to the type of formatting you want to do. You can choose from "Number," "Alignment," "Font," "Border," "Fill" and "Protection." Once you select a tab, change the options in the window to get the cell formatted as you like it. Once all of your formatting changes are done, click "OK." You will see the cell change according to your formatting.

  • Click the cell you just changed, then click the "Home" tab at the top of the screen. Locate the "Clipboard" area on the left end of the ribbon. Double-click the "Format Painter" button and a small paintbrush will appear next to the cursor. Double-clicking, instead of single-clicking, will let you change the format of multiple cells.

  • Select the cells to which you want to copy the formatting of the original cell. Select multiple cells at once by clicking and dragging the mouse or select each cell one by one. When all the desired cells have the same format, click the "Format Painter" button again to return the cursor to normal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Format painting works across worksheets and workbooks as well. Bring up the new worksheet or workbook while in "Format Painting" mode and change the format of every cell you select.

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