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.

Shortcut Key for Format Painter

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 21, 2015)

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
        Beep
        MsgBox "No formatting in Clipboard"
    Else
        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.

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. ...

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