The MS Office Suite has a little used feature that can be a significant time saver. It is called the Format Painter and it is located on the Standard Toolbar. The icon looks like a paintbrush and it is to the left of the Undo button. You can use the format painter to copy and paste formats. It is available in all of the MS Office programs including Visio and Project.
In Word, first select the text with the formatting you want to copy and click on the Format Painter icon. The mouse pointer will look like a little paintbrush. Select the block of text where you want to apply the format. When you release the mouse key, the format will be applied to the text you selected.
You will notice that you only get one application with a single click of the format painter. What do you do when you need to apply it many times through out your document? Easy, double click on the format painter after you select the text you want to copy and it will “stick” until you finish all the formatting and you click on it again.
Essentially, Format Painter works the same in all of the MS Office programs. The key is to select the text with the desired format before you click on the Format Painter. Double click to effect many format copies, single click to apply only once.
Consider this the next time you have a document with section titles. Complete your document without formatting. When your text is all entered, format the 1st section title the way you’d like to see it. Select the formatted title and double click on the Format Painter. Go through your document selecting each of the section headers with the format painter. When you have formatted all the title headers, single click on the Format Painter to shut it off. Using this technique will produce a document with all the section titles consistently formatted for a professional effect.
Consider trying this technique in Visio or PowerPoint the next time you are working with shapes. Format one of the shapes for line style, line weight, line color, fill color, shadow, etc. That sets your style. Select the shape, double-click on the format painter to make it stick, then click on each of the shapes in your presentation or on the Visio drawing board, painting the format as you go. Don’t forget to shut the Format Painter off when you are done with it. This technique produces a highly professional document with a consistent look and feel.
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