There are so many features in Word that I rarely use, it’s amazing. However, when you are faced with the one occasion where you need to do something out of the ordinary, these hidden features really come in handy. For example, I had to do a little research for one of my online courses that required me to copy and paste various content into a Word document.
The only problem was that all of the text had different spacing, font sizes, colors, etc., and I forgot to paste as text only during research. Here’s an example of what my Word document looked like:
The top paragraph is how I wanted all the text in the document to look, but unfortunately it didn’t. Instead, one paragraph had double spacing, emphasis, bold words, and so on, while another used a different font family, font size, bold and italic, indentation, and more.
Since I already knew about keeping the original formatting and matching the target formatting (or merge formatting as it is called now), I figured there must be a way to copy and paste just the formatting instead of the actual content.
Browsing through the different buttons on different ribbons I saw something called Format Painter. It looks like this is exactly what I need.
I didn’t really understand how to use it, so I just hover over the button to see the tooltip, which was pretty helpful.
To use this tool, you can select an area where you like formatting, then click a button and then click another section to apply formatting to that section. However, I’ve found that a simple click isn’t the best way to apply formatting.
For some reason, if you do it this way, all formatting settings will not be applied to the section. For example, I selected the top paragraph, clicked a button, and then just clicked in the middle of the third paragraph. All he did was remove the indentation!
Instead, if after clicking the Format Painter button, I clicked and then dragged to select the entire paragraph, everything worked as expected.
Obviously, you can select more than one paragraph to apply formatting in multiple places. In addition, they have an option whereby you can double-click the Format Painter button and then apply formatting to multiple sections throughout the document. This is useful if the areas you want to apply formatting to are not contiguous.
It’s worth noting that if you only want to copy the text formatting, don’t select the entire paragraph. If you really want to copy the text and paragraph formatting, select the entire paragraph, including the paragraph mark.
Besides text, Format Painter works well with certain types of graphics or pictures. Forms are a good example. If you go to the Insert tab and then click Shapes, you can add all kinds of shapes to your document. Then you can format them to look completely different than the default.
For example, I added a star shape and then changed the line width, colors, added text, shadow, reflection, etc. The star on the right is the default star. If I want the second star to look the same as the first, all I have to do is click the left star, then click Format Painter, and then click the right star and voila!
Except for the added text and star size, everything else was copied. Quite handy if you need to apply the same formatting to a very large Word document, or even multiple Word documents. I tested this on several running instances of Word and I was also able to copy and paste the formatting into different documents.
Overall, this is a small feature compared to all other Word features, but it can save you a lot of time when you need it. Enjoy!