Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. 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.

Shortcut Key for Format Painter

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 21, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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.


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9181) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Shortcut Key for Format Painter.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Changing Styles

Styles are a great boon to making your documents look better and making them easier to update. You can change the ...

Discover More

Changing the Number of Columns in the Middle of a Document

Need to have multiple columns in a page layout that normally consists of a single column? You can change the column ...

Discover More

Passing Custom Caption Labels from a Template to a Document Based on the Template

Caption labels can be useful when you are adding document elements such as tables and figures. Word allows you to create ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Applying Table Formats

Want to format your data tables in a hurry? It's easy to do if you use the built-in table formatter provided in Excel.

Discover More

Understanding Monospace Fonts

Information in a worksheet needs to be displayed using fonts. If you understand the two different types of fonts ...

Discover More

Changing Currency Formatting for a Single Workbook

Currency is formatted differently in different corners of the world. Most formatting uses periods and commas to indicate ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 6?

2020-09-18 13:36:58


+ +
((((( ))))))

2015-10-22 16:14:44

Joe K

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.

2015-08-17 09:09:11


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.

2015-08-14 13:44:53

Faster At Excel

rpurosky, my Right-Click + R tip was meant for Excel (not Word). It should work in Excel (let me know if not).

2015-08-13 08:51:44


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).

2015-08-13 08:49:21


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?

2015-08-11 15:13:10

Faster At Excel

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).

2015-08-11 15:10:41

Faster At Excel

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).

2015-05-11 08:05:44


@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 :)

2015-03-08 15:49:23


Why has no one told me Alt+# gives me the #th button on the Quick Access toolbar? Laster is my new best friend.

2015-03-06 10:00:22


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.

2015-02-23 10:06:55

Dave Thorson

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)

2015-02-23 08:53:01


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!

2015-02-23 03:22:28

Rudra Sharma

You can use
Ctrl + C to copy source cell
Select Destination range and press menu key from Keyboard, press s and t.

2015-02-23 03:01:36


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).

2015-02-22 01:46:30

Beverley Weeks

Add the Paste Formatting icon to QAT. Then after copying ALT + appropriate number.

2015-02-21 08:29:59

frank mccraw

CTL-C (copy)
ALT-E,S,T (paste format only)

is maybe even faster

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.