How to Use the Format Painter to Duplicate Formatting in PowerPoint

The Format Painter is an extremely useful tool in PowerPoint that allows you to quickly copy formatting from one object and apply it to another. This can save you a tremendous amount of time when creating presentations by eliminating the need to manually apply the same formatting multiple times.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to use the Format Painter effectively in PowerPoint.

What is the Format Painter?

The Format Painter is represented by an icon that looks like a paintbrush in the Clipboard group on the Home tab in PowerPoint. Its purpose is to copy text formatting, object formatting, or graphics formatting from one place and paste it onto another.

The Benefits of Using the Format Painter

There are several key benefits of using the Format Painter in PowerPoint:

  • Saves time – Eliminates manually applying formatting multiple times
  • Increases efficiency – Quickly duplicate styles throughout a presentation
  • Enhances consistency – Ensures a uniform look and feel throughout
  • Works on text, graphics, objects – Flexible for formatting many slide elements

Overall, the Format Painter can help you work smarter in PowerPoint by streamlining repetitive formatting tasks.

How to Use the Format Painter

Using the Format Painter is simple. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the text or object that has the formatting you want to copy. This is called the “source”.
  2. Click the Format Painter icon in the Clipboard group on the Home tab. The mouse pointer will change to a paintbrush icon.
  3. Select the text or object you want to apply the copied formatting to. This is called the “target”.

The formatting from the source will be instantly applied to the target. The Format Painter then turns off automatically.

Copy Formatting to Multiple Items

To use the Format Painter on multiple targets at once:

  1. Select the source text or object.
  2. Double-click the Format Painter icon. The mouse pointer will change to a paintbrush icon.
  3. Select all the target text or objects you want to apply the formatting to.
  4. When finished, click the Format Painter icon again or press ESC to turn off.

This keeps the Format Painter turned on so you can continually paste the copied formatting.

Format Painter Keyboard Shortcuts

For greater efficiency, use these handy keyboard shortcuts for the Format Painter:

  • Copy formatting: CTRL+SHIFT+C
  • Paste formatting: CTRL+SHIFT+V

These allow you to quickly copy and paste formatting without having to click the Format Painter icon.

Tips for Using the Format Painter Effectively

Follow these tips to maximize the usefulness of the Format Painter:

  • Use it on fonts, font sizes, colors, alignment, spacing, borders, fills, effects – anything!
  • Try it on SmartArt graphics and charts to quickly format visual elements
  • If you only want to apply something once, single-click the icon
  • If you want to apply to many objects, double-click the icon
  • Press ESC when finished to deactivate

Common Questions about the Format Painter

Here are answers to some common questions about PowerPoint’s Format Painter:

Can you use Format Painter on multiple slides?

Yes, double-click the Format Painter icon, then select objects across multiple slides. Press ESC when finished.

Does Format Painter work for slide layouts or master slides?

No, the Format Painter only works on individual slides and objects. To format a layout or master, edit it directly.

What does the paintbrush icon disappearing mean?

When the paintbrush disappears, it means the Format Painter has been deactivated, either manually or after pasting the format once.


The Format Painter is an indispensable tool for quickly duplicating and applying formatting in PowerPoint to save time. With this guide, you now have an in-depth understanding of how to fully utilize its capabilities for greater efficiency.

Try it out on your next presentation and see firsthand how much faster formatting becomes!