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Format Painter

Word's Format Painter feature too-often goes ignored but provides one of the easiest ways to replicate any kind of character, paragraph, or other style throughout your document. After you format text the way you want, you no longer have to apply the set of formatting commands to format another area of your document the same way. Instead, you use the Format Painter to, well, paint the format where you want to apply it.

To Do: Use the Format Painter to Copy Formatting

Suppose that your document contains several passages of quoted text throughout. Where the quoted passages appear, you want to separate it from the surrounding text by indenting, italicizing, and applying a special font to those quoted passages. All you need to do is apply the formatting to one of the passages and paint the rest as follows:

Click anywhere within the formatted passage.

Click the Format Painter button. Your mouse pointer changes to a brush icon.

Select the next quoted paragraph by clicking and dragging the brush until you've selected the entire text to format.

Release the mouse button. Word formats the second paragraph the same as the first. All margins, indents, tab stops, and character and paragraph styles now apply to both paragraphs.

To paint several nonconsecutive paragraphs throughout your document, click on the paragraph that contains the style you want to select and then double-click the Format Painter button. When you click on subsequent text to convert the style to the original paragraph's style, the Format Painter remains active. Keep clicking on paragraphs to format. Press Esc when you format the final paragraph to deactivate the Format Painter.

The choice of creating a special quoted passage style versus applying the Format Painter depends on your preferred way of working. If you take the time to create a quoted paragraph style, you only then need to select that style before typing the next passage or apply that style to the already-selected passages. The Format Painter feature allows you to format several areas of text the same without requiring that you first create a style, but the Format Painter requires a little more work each time you use it than simply selecting a style from the Style drop-down list box.

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