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Shortcut Key for Format Painter

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Shortcut Key for Format Painter.

Fred loves to use the Format Painter, but doesn't like to use the mouse to use the tool. He would find it much easier to use if there were a shortcut key instead. Unfortunately, Excel doesn't provide a single shortcut key you can use for the Format Painter. You can, however, use the following steps if you are using Excel 2007:

  1. Select the cell from which the format is to be copied.
  2. Press Ctrl+C. This copies the cell to the Clipboard.
  3. Select the cells to receive the format.
  4. Press Shift+F10, S, T, Enter. This sequence displays the Paste Special dialog box and chooses to paste only the format.

If you are using Excel 2010 and Excel 2013 then you should follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell from which the format is to be copied.
  2. Press Ctrl+C. This copies the cell to the Clipboard.
  3. Select the cells to receive the format.
  4. Press Shift+F10, S, R. This sequence displays the Context menu and selects the options to paste just formatting.

You could also, if you prefer, use a sequence of shortcut keys to access ribbon commands. Press Alt, H, F, P. These should not be pressed all at once, but in sequence. The Alt key activates the keyboard shortcuts for ribbon commands, the H selects the Home tab of the ribbon, and the FP selects the Format Painter.

If you prefer a real shortcut key (only a single key press), then you will need to develop your own macro to paste only the format. The following is an example of such a macro.

Sub PasteSpecialFormats()
    If Application.CutCopyMode = False Then
        MsgBox "No formatting in Clipboard"
        Selection.PasteSpecial Paste:=xlFormats
    End If
End Sub

To use the macro, follow steps 1 through 3 as previously outlined, and then run the macro. Since the macro can be assigned to a shortcut key, you end up with an easier shortcut than what has already been discussed.

There is one thing to remember with all of these approaches: They only activate the Format Painter. In order to actually use the Format Painter to "paint" a format somewhere else, you need to immediately select the cell or range of cells to which you want the format applied. You won't be able to do this using the keyboard unless the cells you want to target are directly adjacent to the cell in which you activated the Format Painter. In all other instances you will need to rely on the mouse.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9181) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Shortcut Key for Format Painter.

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Comments for this tip:

Joe K    22 Oct 2015, 16:14
By far, hands down right-click R is the quickest. It even helps with the reason I went looking.... locking the tool when you have auto-hide going on the ribbon.
rpurosky    17 Aug 2015, 09:09
Whoops, my bad. I get both tips and get them confused sometimes. However, when I tried it in Excel 2010, there is no "R" option after right-clicking a cell either. It just dings at me. So, other than the word "Word", that comment stands, my Ctrl+Shift+C comment does not apply for Excel. I should go ask that question on the Word comments, though.
Faster At Excel    14 Aug 2015, 13:44
rpurosky, my Right-Click + R tip was meant for Excel (not Word). It should work in Excel (let me know if not).
rpurosky    13 Aug 2015, 08:51
BTW, I have Word 2010 and R-click, R does nothing for me. Not an option from the right-click menu when pointing at selected text (or using context menu key).
rpurosky    13 Aug 2015, 08:49
Hey! Playing with this topic again, I pointed at the FP button and the tool tip said Ctrl+Shift+C is the shortcut! However, when I tried it, nothing happened. Anyone have knowledge of this?
Faster At Excel    11 Aug 2015, 15:13
Oh yeah, I briefly used macros with shortcut keys to do things like this until I realized you can't Undo after running the macro (as far as I'm aware).
Faster At Excel    11 Aug 2015, 15:10
Right click + R seems the fastest to me (the S isn't needed since R is already showing in the menu, as is the V for pasting Values).
If you require keyboard-only, then hit the Context Menu key instead of right clicking, then R.
Alt-# is great, but I reserve those #'s for my most common shortcuts that have no fast shortcut available (and format painting isn't something I do frequently enough to merit the valuable left-handed QAT real estate).
Erik    11 May 2015, 08:05
@Laster: Thank you so much for this tip. I was looking for aeasy solution that works the same in all Office apps (Excel, Word, PowerPoint). I still wonder why MS did not enable an easy shortcut for this option to begin with. This will probably save me hours of clicking :)
rpurosky    08 Mar 2015, 15:49
Why has no one told me Alt+# gives me the #th button on the Quick Access toolbar? Laster is my new best friend.
Laster    06 Mar 2015, 10:00
I have one more idea: Add the Format Painter to the "Quick Access Toolbar". In order to do this:
- use drop-down menu at the very top (in the title bar)
- Choose "More commands"
- Select Format Painter in left list (Popular commands) and click Add Button
- Close window (Press Ok)
- Now the Format Painter will be shown in the Quick Access Toolbar
- It can be easily accessed with the keyboard by pressing ALT+number (number is depending on the position in the toolbar, in my case it is ALT+4)

Hope that helps.
Dave Thorson    23 Feb 2015, 10:06
I was inspired by all the ideas above. In Excel 2010 (and probably 2007) you can use Ctrl-C to copy the format you want, then go to the destination and press Alt-H,V,R in sequence. To copy the format to additional areas move to each one and press F4.

(I used to use Alt-E,S,T but figured it's time to start moving away from the this ancient, no longer documented, approach)
rpurosky    23 Feb 2015, 08:53
All good tips in these comments and we all need to keep looking for faster shortcuts. Surprised no one mentioned the shortcut (that I think is easier to memorize and find on the keyboard than Shift+F10) for Paste Special: [Ctrl+Alt+V] (just add the Alt key to the regular Paste shortcut of [Ctrl+V]). Thanks, everyone!
Rudra Sharma    23 Feb 2015, 03:22
You can use
Ctrl + C to copy source cell
Select Destination range and press menu key from Keyboard, press s and t.

Banzoey    23 Feb 2015, 03:01
You can also use the Context Menu shortcut key on your keyboard instead of Shift+F10 - it's the funny key between the Win and Ctrl keys on some keyboards.
Or just right click the target followed by S, R (Excel 2010), that way you don't need to remove your hand from the mouse.

As a side note, if you need to paste the format multiple times from the same source, double click the Format Painter button and then every cell/range you click on will be painted (Esc to stop).
Beverley Weeks    22 Feb 2015, 01:46
Add the Paste Formatting icon to QAT. Then after copying ALT + appropriate number.
frank mccraw    21 Feb 2015, 08:29
CTL-C (copy)
ALT-E,S,T (paste format only)

is maybe even faster

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