Format Painter Shortcut

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 30, 2013)


Many people use the Format Painter tool to copy formatting from one place to another in a document. Unfortunately, using the Format Painter requires that you take your hands off the keyboard and use the mouse—a process that is anathema to many people who would rather use the keyboard for all their tasks.

In reality, Word does provide simple keyboard commands for copying and pasting formatting. The shortcut for copying formatting is Ctrl+Shift+C and the shortcut for pasting is Ctrl+Shift+V.

If you place the insertion point into a paragraph or select the entire paragraph, then Ctrl+Shift+C copies the formatting of the entire paragraph. This includes Bullets & Numbering, spacing, indentation, style, character formatting that's shared by most characters, etc. If you select a short text selection (perhaps one or two words) without selecting the end-of-paragraph marker, then Ctrl+Shift+C only copies character formatting (bold, italic, underline, etc.).

The keyboard commands to copy and paste formatting are actually more powerful than the Format Painter tool. With the keyboard, you can copy formatting, perform numerous other actions, and still paste the formatting anywhere into an open document as many times as you want. So long as you don't copy different formatting, the same formatting will be ready to paste for the entire Word session. You can think of it as copying formatting to the Clipboard, even though the Windows Clipboard really isn't involved.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (193) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is four less than 8?

2017-01-27 01:17:53

Sheetal Aggarwal

Good one

2016-12-13 12:11:44


Wow, thanks for this. It works well!

2016-10-05 03:41:31


Hi, I am in the process of formatting citations but every so often have to reintegrate new references into the main list. For some reason in merging these new ones into alphabetical order by surname using the A-Z, the journal title which should in italics is changed back to normal text. If I use the format key stroke as discussed on your webpage, I don't know how to ensure that however long the author part and the title , that the journal title will become italicised as would be in the one I copy. I have about 150 references at least so a quick way to get the formatting to APA6 is my goal. Please advise if this is possible

2016-04-23 10:18:13


Thanks so much. On my Mac the format painter doesn't always work but this method does. So far anyway.

2016-01-13 14:03:27


Thanks!!! This is very helpful.

2015-12-17 04:49:13



On a Mac, use:

Shift + Cmd + C, then,
Shift + Cmd + V.

2015-09-11 13:32:36


Thank you very much. I am looking for this hotkey for a long time. Finally...
Very appreciate your sharing!

2015-09-07 06:19:51

Jason Wyatt

Great tip, just what I've been looking for. Thanks for sharing it.

2015-08-21 08:59:21


Wow.. thanks a lot .This saved me...

2015-07-28 08:58:25


For some reason, Format Painter isn't assigned Ctrl+Shft+V and I need to assign it. Anyone know where this can be found in the Customize Ribbon sections? I can't find it there.

2015-06-10 21:36:47


This made me so happy.

2015-03-29 07:54:14


Thank you!

2015-03-19 14:37:34

Kishore Nandipati

Very useful.Thank you!

2015-02-23 03:08:11


Amazing Tip!! didn't know about it at all!

2014-11-29 06:34:17

Jatin goyal

Really works and I need it since past

2014-10-23 22:13:59


Great tip, exactly what I needed! Tks a lot.

2014-09-30 00:53:25

Sabawoon Pasoon

I am very thankfull to you dears
Your Website is very usefull.

Thank you so much

2014-07-28 03:19:36

R. Sriram

Worked like a charm.. Thanks a lot!!

2014-06-24 02:57:46

Ricardo Freitas

Great tip! Thanks a lot :)

2014-06-02 12:24:44


What if these short-cuts don't work, this only occurs in Word 2010, Outlook, Excel, Powerpoint work fine.

2012-01-06 05:30:49

Neerav Galathia

Dear Mr. Wyatt,

Many thanks for such a helpful information.

I liked this site and will visit frequently to solve the problems related to word file.

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

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