Access Format Painter via the Keyboard


One of the handiest functions in Word is the Format Painter . I use it often to copy a format from one section of a document to another. There’s only one thing I don’t like about it: I have to take my fingers off the keyboard to activate it with the mouse. I can’t believe there isn’t a keyboard shortcut.

There is. But, like many Microsoft shortcuts, it’s hard to find. If you click on F1 for information you won’t find even a clue that such a shortcut exists.

The icon tool operates like the keyboard shortcut, except without the mouse. Highlight the area you want the format copied and press Ctrl+Shift+C; the shortcut for pasting is Ctrl+Shift+V. If you put the insertion point inside a paragraph that includes the end-of-paragraph marker (), it will copy all the formats within the paragraph: bullets and numbering, spacing, indentation, style and character formatting shared by most characters. If you select just one or two words without selecting the end-of-paragraph marker, then Ctrl+Shift+C copies only the character formatting (bold, italic and underline, for example).

You’re probably saying, “What’s he talking about—an end-of-paragraph marker?” Well, now’s as good a time as any to learn about it. Microsoft Word is defaulted to hide the paragraph mark at the end of every paragraph. Because the end-of-paragraph marker is such a powerful function, I put an icon for it in my toolbar so I can hide it or evoke it with a mouse click. To place it in your toolbar, go to Tools, Customize, Commands tab and cursor down to Show All (see screenshot) and drag the icon to your toolbar with your mouse.

When you toggle it on, it not only displays all a document’s paragraph marks, it also shows a single dot for every blank space.

Bonus : The shortcut is actually more powerful than the Format Painter icon. When you use the keyboard, the same formatting will be ready to paste for the entire Word session. With the Format Painter , you have to click on it twice to keep it active. However, don’t forget to turn it off by pressing Esc when you’re finished copying formats.


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