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Microsoft Excel

Shortcut Key for Format Painter in Excel (Pro Tip!)

There is a long-held belief among Excel users that if you can avoid using your mouse, your productivity will go way up.

I’ve even heard stories of new hires in the finance industry having their mouse cords cut as part of a hazing ritual – back when computer mice had cords!

Suffice to say that if you have aspirations of becoming an analyst on Wall Street, you’ll need to know ALL of Excel’s keyboard shortcuts.

In this article, we’ll explore format painter in Microsoft Excel – and we’ll look at using format painter with a keyboard shortcut.

What is Format Painter in Excel?

Most of the people I meet in my Excel courses know how to copy data from one location to another. The ability to copy and paste is pretty standard in most productivity applications… but what does this have to do with format painter?

Essentially, format painter is copy and paste for formatting.

Format painter lets you copy formatting from one cell to another cell – or group of cells. It’s a quick and convenient way to replicate formatting in one part of your spreadsheet to others.

Format painter will copy the following attributes:

  • Font, font size, and associated properties (bold, italic, underline)
  • Number formats
  • Alignment
  • Cell borders
  • Background colors

If you’re a frequent Excel user, knowing how to use format painter can be a game changer.

How to Use Format Painter in Excel

There are 3 steps to using format painter in Excel.

  1. Select a cell with formatting applied.
  2. Click the Format Painter button in the Home > Clipboard group.
  3. Select one (or more) cells you’d like to apply the formatting to.

The Format Painter button is circled in the screenshot below.

The Format Painter button on the Home tab

What is the Shortcut Key for Format Painter?

Format painter sounds pretty useful… but what is the keyboard shortcut for format painter?

Sadly, there is no hotkey for format painter. You need to use an Alt-key sequence instead.

Here are the steps.

  1. Select a cell with formatting applied.
  2. Press Alt, H, F, P.
  3. Select one (or more) cells you’d like to apply the formatting to.

This is an important detail. Don’t press the Alt, H, F, P keys all at once, type them in sequence.

Here is what each command in the Alt-key sequence does:

  • Alt lets Excel know that you want to use a keyboard shortcut.
  • H selects the Home tab on the ribbon.
  • F, P selects Format Painter.
The Alt-key sequence for format painter

Will Using Format Painter’s Keyboard Shortcut Save You Time?

Is it worth memorizing format painter’s alt-key sequence? Will using format painter’s keyboard shortcut save you time?

If you use format painter frequently, the alt-key sequence will quickly become second nature.

If you spend a big part of your day working in Excel, and you’re committed to incorporating as many keyboard shortcuts as you can into your workflow, I think this technique will be a valuable addition to your skillset.

You’re welcome! : )

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.