How to copy and paste formatting in PowerPoint

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Almost everyone knows about Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V to copy and paste in PowerPoint. But did you know that you can also copy and paste formatting in PowerPoint, to quickly polish your presentations.

In this How to Guide, we explain the different features to copy and paste formatting in standard PowerPoint - how they work and their limitations. We also explain some PPT Productivity add-in for PowerPoint features that make it much faster and easier to apply formatting in PowerPoint.

Note that this post was originally written in October 2022 and updated in 2023 after release of the PPT Productivity Format Painter feature set.

What is the PowerPoint Format Painter?

The Format Painter in PowerPoint is the paintbrush icon on the main PowerPoint ribbon (refer to the screenshot below). You can use PowerPoint's Format Painter feature to copy and apply formatting from one object to another. Wondering how to format text in PowerPoint? The Format Painter feature works well on text as well as recoloring standard PowerPoint shapes.

Screenshot showing PowerPoint Toolbar  Format Painter location
Where to find the PowerPoint Format Painter on the Ribbon

How to use Format Painter in PowerPoint?


  • Select the text or object you would like to copy formatting from
  • Click the format painter (on the Home tab of the Ribbon in the Clipboard feature group)
  • Select the text or object you want to apply the formatting to

Note that the default mode of Format Painter is to apply the saved formatting only once, but if you double click the format painter icon, you can continue applying the format to multiple objects or pieces of text.

Limitations of the PowerPoint Format Painter

The format painter is a helpful feature if you need to quickly recolor shapes or update text styles. But the format painter does not copy and apply formatting to PowerPoint tables, nor can it copy additional formatting like shape size, positioning etc. Also PowerPoint does not assign a format painter shortcut key (although you can assign a format painter shortcut key using PPT Productivity's customizable shortcut keys feature).

PowerPoint Pick up Style and Apply Style

PowerPoint's Pick Up style and Apply Style features are similar to the Format Painter. The features are harder to find but also more user friendly. Using Pick up Style and Apply Style in PowerPoint you can:

  • Move between slides: You can Pick up style top copy a style from one slide and continue working on the slide before navigating to another slide to apply the style. Format Painter applies the formatting copied as soon as you select the next piece of text or object (making it trickier to navigate between slides)
  • Apply style multiple times: Once you have picked up a style, you can apply the style numerous times across multiple slides while still making other changes. The picked up style will be remembered for easy applying until you pick up another style.

How to use PowerPoint Pick Up Style and Apply Style?

PowerPoint hides the Pick up style and Apply style features! They do not appear on the standard PowerPoint Ribbon, but you can add Pick up style and Apply Style to your QAT. Simply right click on the QAT, selecting Customize and then change the filter to Choose commands from.... All commands (easier than scrolling!). Then search for Pick Up Style and Apply Style and save them to your QAT for easy access.

PPT Ribbon Pickup Apply Style on QAT
PPT Ribbon Pickup Apply Style on QAT

You can also access the features via shortcut keys:

  • Pick Up Object Style: Ctrl+Shift+C
  • Apply Object Style: Ctrl+Shift+V

To use these features, simply:

  • Select the style you want to copy (eg select a shape by clicking with your mouse or highlight text) then click Pick up style.
  • Next, select the object or text you want to apply the style to, and click Apply style.

Limitations of PowerPoint Pickup Style and Apply Style features

Pickup and Apply style can only pickup and apply the following attributes:

  • Shape fill color/ outline color
  • Font color, style, size
  • Line or outline style (eg dotted, dashed)

The Pickup Style and Apply Style PowerPoint features don't work for:

  • Applying shape size
  • Applying shape position
  • Applying formatting to PowerPoint tables

PPT Productivity's Copy Format and Paste Format Features

PPT Productivity is a time saving add-in for PowerPoint. PPT Productivity has had a copy and paste position + size format feature for some time. This feature is being enhanced, to provide additional options (Update - the new enhanced PPT Productivity Format Painters features were released in January 2023).

You can copy and paste the following format attributes with PPT Productivity's Power Tools (you can select to apply all applicable attributes for an object, or customize what you want to paste):

  • Copy Paste Position: with options to paste position based on the top or left (e.g. so you can paste position of different sized objects, aligned to a common anchor point)
  • Copy Paste Size: with options to match height, width and rotation
  • Copy Paste Fill: with options to match color, transparency and solid vs pattern of fill
  • Copy Paste Line: with options to match line color, width, transparency, dash type, begin arrow, end arrow
  • Copy Paste Textbox: options to match text, vertical alignment, text direction, margins, wrapping
  • Copy Paste Angles/ edges: match chevron points, the angle of rounded edge rectangles, positioning of call-out box arrows
  • Copy Paste Animations: copy and paste the animations on a shape including an option to append an animation (to an object that already has an animation)

PPT Productivity's Copy Table Format

PPT Productivity plugin for PowerPoint has a copy and paste table formatting feature (released January 2023). This amazing Copy Table Format feature lets you copy formatting of a PowerPoint table and apply that formatting to another table. The feature takes into consideration:

  • Table colors: including table colors, font colors, presence of alternate colors on header or footer rows or starting or end columns
  • Table fonts
  • Row height
  • Column width
Want to create polished presentations faster? With PPT Productivity, boost your team's productivity with faster formatting, easier editing, collaboration tools and more! If you're not yet using PPT Productivity, download our free 30 day trial today. We offer free one-on-one training and flexible licensing to suit individuals, teams or enterprise.

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