If you’ve ever wondered what the Paintbrush icon just below the Copy button on The Ribbon is, wonder no more.

It’s known as the Format Painter and it’s purpose it to quickly replicate formatting from one cell to another, ensuring consistency and saving valuable time. Take the screenshot below:

The cells in the range A1:K7 have various formats applied to them. A1 has bold and italic applied together with a blue background and white text. B1:K1 are right aligned with a green background and white text. A7:K7 have the same green background and white text. All the numbers in columns B:I have been formatted with commas to separate the 000’s and the numbers in columns J:K have been formatted as ¬£UK with 2 decimal places.

Now I want to apply those formats to other cells. Whether I want to copy the formats applied to A1 and paste them onto A11 or whether I want to copy the formats applied to A1:K7 and apply them cell-to-cell to A11:K17, the Format Painter is your friend.

Can you remember exactly which blue you used in A1? Can you remember which green you used in B1:K1 and A7:K7? Do the cells containing the days names have bold applied? Rather than checking the existing formatting applied to a cell, with a couple of clicks you can copy the formatting of A1:K7:

In this video, which is intended for Excel newbies, I uncover the secrets of this little paintbrush icon. Having said that, even some long-time Excel users aren’t aware of all there is to know about this little gem.

You can download a copy of the file I used in the video from the YouTube description