Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Shortcut Key for Format Painter.

Shortcut Key for Format Painter

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 4, 2015)


Fred loves to use the Format Painter, but doesn't like to use the mouse to use the tool. He would find it much easier to use if there were a shortcut key instead. Unfortunately, Excel doesn't provide a single shortcut key you can use for the Format Painter. You can, however, use the following steps:

  1. Select the cell from which the format is to be copied.
  2. Press Ctrl+C. This copies the cell to the Clipboard.
  3. Select the cells to receive the format.
  4. Press Alt+E, S, T, Enter. This sequence displays the Paste Special dialog box and chooses to paste only the format.

In step 4 you could also press Shift+F10 rather than Alt+E. The first displays the Context menu for the cells and the other uses the regular menu system.

If you prefer a real shortcut key (only a single key press), then you will need to develop your own macro to paste only the format. The following is an example of such a macro.

Sub PasteSpecialFormats()
    If Application.CutCopyMode = False Then
        MsgBox "No formatting in Clipboard"
        Selection.PasteSpecial Paste:=xlFormats
    End If
End Sub

To use the macro, follow steps 1 through 3 as previously outlined, and then run the macro. Since the macro can be assigned to a shortcut key, you end up with an easier shortcut than what has already been discussed.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3225) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Shortcut Key for Format Painter.

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 five more than 3?

2017-10-27 10:21:51


thank you for this. Really helpful.

2016-11-17 04:23:40


For those who use a keyboard with a "right click" key, it becomes very simple:
- Select the cell to copy from
- Ctrl + C
- Select the target cell
- "Right click key" + R

2016-06-20 15:03:02


Alt+E, S == Ctrl+Alt+V

2016-06-03 03:42:15



2016-03-19 08:54:34


This really helps a lot, thank you for the generous sharing.

2016-03-06 09:06:18


Helpful, thank you!

2016-01-11 19:02:43

Will Long

Please disregard the forward slash at the end of my last message, it was supposed to be a period.

2016-01-11 18:59:59

Will Long

I don't think anyone would want to go through all those steps to avoid using a mouse when a combination of mouse and keyboard would be far more efficient.

Better yet, highlight the field you want to format paint using and then press Control+C, than right click the field you want to format paint and press "R"/

2015-10-26 14:32:59


helpful, thank you

2015-10-15 04:50:41



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