How To Use Format Painter In PowerPoint

How to Use Format Painter in PowerPoint

Let me ask you a question… how much time do you usually spend designing presentations? I know that there are a lot of factors at play here – how simple or complex the design is, your design skills, the content, etc. – but give it your best guess.

Whatever your answer is, there is one tool that can shave off several minutes from your workflow – Format Painter! In this post, I’ll show you how to use format painter in PowerPoint, so you can spend less time designing and more time practicing your presentation!

What is format painter anyway?

You know how copy-paste works, right? You copy something (text, image, shapes, etc.) and then you paste it into a different part of your slide.

Well, format painter works the same way. But instead of copying an object, you’re copying that object’s format and “painting” it over a different object.

Format painter is very useful in themed presentations where you have a recurring look within your slides.

For example, if you’re using a holiday theme, you may be using the same fonts, same shapes, or same colors on all of your slides. Manually copying these objects’ formats can eat up a lot of time, but thankfully, format painter can step in to save your day!

What kind of attributes or properties can you copy with format painter?

You can copy the format of various objects in PowerPoint, such as:

  • Text – you can select a few lines of text or a portion of a paragraph
  • Paragraph – you can copy the entire paragraph’s formatting
  • WordArt – you can duplicate WordArt attributes to other WordArt texts as well as regular text
  • Shapes – you can copy a shape’s fill colors, outline colors, and effects
  • Pictures – you can duplicate a picture’s border, effects, frame, color, transparency, etc.
  • Icons – you can copy an icon’s fill color, outline, and effects

And here’s the good news: you’re not limited to using format painter on the same type of objects.

For example, if you want to copy a shape’s format to your text box, WordArt, pictures or graphics, you can do so! This is a very versatile tool, so check out how it works in the next section.

So, how to use format painter in PowerPoint?

Here are 3 different ways you can use format painter in PowerPoint:

Use Case #1: Copy format from Object 1 to Object 2

This is a single instance of using format painter. The process is so simple you only need 3 steps.

Step 1: Click on Object 1 whose format or attributes you want to copy.

step 1 on how to use format painter in powerpoint

Step 2: Go to the Home tab and click on the Format Painter button. Pay attention to your mouse icon – it will transform from the default arrow icon to paintbrush icon.

step 2 - click on format painter button

Step 3: Click on Object 2. You will instantly see Object 1’s format applied to Object 2. Easy, right?!

3rd step - click on object 2

Use Case #2: Copy format from Object 1 to Multiple Objects

If you want to apply Object 1’s format to more than 1 object, you can easily do so. The process is pretty much the same as Use Case #1, but with a minor difference in step 2.

Step 1: Click on Object 1.

Step 2: Double click the Format Painter button.

Step 3: Click on all the objects you want to apply Object 1’s attributes to. The format painter function is active while the mouse pointer is still set to paintbrush mode. When you want the mouse function to return to normal, just hit the escape (ESC) button on your keyboard OR click the Format Painter button again.

Use Case #3: Copy format from Object 1 to objects in OTHER presentation files!

Yes, this is a very handy feature indeed. If you’re working on multiple presentation files at the same time, you can effortlessly copy and paste object formats from one file to another. How? Just follow the same steps in Use Case #1 and Use Case #2! Try it – you’ll be blown away by how easy it is!

This feature is also useful if you’re working with a number of PowerPoint templates. You can copy the design features you like and then just paste it into the presentation file you’re working on!

What can you NOT do with format painter?

This tool is awesome, but it does have a few limitations. Here are a few things you can’t do with format painter:

  • You can’t copy animations. You need to use Animation Painter for this. It works just like format painter but for animations. You’ll find this in the Animations tab.
  • You can’t copy pictures; a simple copy and paste will do though.
  • You can’t copy shapes. Just like pictures, regular copy and paste will do the trick.
  • You also can’t use format painter on tables or SmartArt graphics (convert them to shapes first).


Format painter is a simple but very powerful tool in PowerPoint that can help you quickly design presentations. Whilst presentation design is important, it’s how you deliver your presentation that actually matters. So, now that you know how to use format painter in PowerPoint, go use it to save some design time so you can spend more time rehearsing your presentation (pro tip: use storytelling techniques to boost audience engagement)!