Copy formatting in Google Sheets – Paint Format Tool

Being able to copy parts or whole of your work to re-use it usually saves a lot of time, why not copy the formatting too? Google sheets allows the user to copy the formatting from one or multiple cells and paste it to a range of cells in the same worksheet or even in a different worksheet of the same workbook.

Be it font, font sizes, colours or even conditional formatting, the Paint Format tools lets you do all of this. In this article we’ll explore everything you need to know to use this tool in your own spreadsheet to copy and paste formatting.

Using Paint Format

This tool is also commonly referred to as the “Format Painter” tool.

Using the Paint Format tool is really simple. Just select the cells with the formatting you want to copy, click on the paint format tool icon and finally select the cells you want to paste the formatting onto.

Here’s an example:

Suppose you want to copy the formatting from column A to column B in this spreadsheet snippet.

  1. Select the cells you want to copy the formatting by clicking and dragging over the cells.
  2. Click on the “Paint Format” icon from the quick access toolbar. It looks like a paint roller. You will know when the tool is activated as the icon becomes green in colour.
  3. Select the cells where you want to paste your copied formatting and click on them. This will paste the formatting onto the selected cells.

Conditional formatting can be copied in a similar way, by selecting the source cells followed by the target cells.

Note that this tool can only be used only once, that is, it will be disabled after one use and you will need to repeat steps 1 through 3 everytime you copy formatting. 

Shortcut method: Since this tool can be used only once before repeating the steps, a quicker method is to press the “Ctrl + Y” key on your keyboard to re-paste the same formatting. 

“Ctrl+Y” actually isn’t a shortcut for the paint format tool, instead it repeats the last command used. So, if the paint format tool was used once, you can keep formatting faster using this shortcut instead of having to do everything all over again. 

Beware that this will only paste the last copied formatting so if you want to copy a new formatting style you will have to repeat the steps from the beginning.

While not a must-know for spreadsheet users, knowing the usage of this tool can speed up your productivity by a lot, especially if you want to keep your sheets looking neat, tidy and organised with proper formatting.

I hope you found this article useful and learnt something new today.

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