Excel copy formatting: Cells

Excel copy formatting: YOUR OBJECTIVE

You created and formatted a table. Upon looking over your work, you notice that you only formatted a single cell instead of the intended range of cells. Now you want to copy the formatting that you applied to that one cell to all the other cells in the intended range.

In this learning module “Excel copy formatting”, you will find out how to copy the formatting from one cell to one or more other cells.


To copy the format from one cell to other cells, first select the satisfactorily formatted cell. Then, on the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, click the  button.

Regardless of how many formatting commands have been applied a cell, the Format Painter function can copy the entire formatting information from one cell to other cells.

Afte the the  button has been clicked, it takes on an orange glow and the mouse pointer turns into a paintbrush symbol  . Both these actions indicate that the Format Painter function is active and has already recorded a set of formatting information.

Now click on the cell to which you want to apply the recorded formatting information.

 Excel copy formatting: HINT (1)

You can also apply the recorded format to cell ranges. After clicking the button, move the paintbrush-pointer to a corner cell of the intended range, and then, while holding the left mouse button depressed, sweep the format-painting mouse pointer over the intended range. When you release the button, the recorded formatting will be applied to (painted over) the indicated cell range.


You can also copy the format of entire rows or columns. To do this, click on a row or column heading, and then click the Format Painter button. Now you can paint (copy) the recorded formatting to other rows or columns. This will only work if there are no merged cells in any of the targeted cell ranges.

After painting the format, the function is reset, i.e., the button loses its orange glow.

Excel copy formatting: HINT (2)

If you want to copy a format to multiple non-adjacent cells, first click on the source cell or cells, and then double-click the  button. Now, using the modified mouse pointer, paint the recorded format onto a cell or cell range. Because the function button was double-clicked, the mouse pointer retains its paintbrush shape and you can continue to paint the formatting onto more cells or cell ranges. When you’ve finished painting the format, press [Esc] or click the  button. The mouse pointer returns to its usual shape, and the Format Painter function loses its glow.


The Format Painter command copies all formats of the selected cell. For example, if a cell has a thick border on the right, this setting will be copied to other cells as well. For that reason, after painting formatting onto other cells, there may be some need to rework, i.e., fine tune, the painted formatting.

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