Excel Tips & Tricks for Accountants: Format Painter

We’re excited to have Jim Cline, founder of ExcelCEO, share a series of blogs about how accountants can better use Excel. Jim will be hosting a two-part free CPE webinar on May 22 and 24. Click here to register.

Microsoft Excel® is one of the most powerful tools accountants use on a daily basis, if not the power tool, and yet most accountants have never taken a course on how to use Excel. They typically only learn Excel features when they need to for a certain job.

It’s time for that to change!

As an instructor, I’ve gathered tons of Excel tips and tricks over the years. On May 22 and 24, I’ll be presenting a two-part webinar on behalf of FloQast called “Become EXCEL-lent – Excel Tips & Tricks for Accountants.” I’ll demonstrate LIVE my top Excel tips and tricks via a screenshare. You’ll be able to follow along in your own copy of Excel, and you’ll have the chance to ask questions, too.

In advance of the webinar, I’m sharing a few of the Excel tricks that my students rave about. This is part one in a three part blog series — so stay tuned for more Excel tips to come!

To follow along and try for yourself, download this Excel file, then go to the Office Ribbon and click on the Home tab.

Excel Tip #1 – Using the Format Painter:

What’s the Format Painter? If you’ve used other Microsoft Office programs, you’ve probably seen it. It’s the icon that resembles a paint brush: . You can find it on the Office Ribbon in the Clipboard group of the Home tab.

You can use the Format Painter to copy or “paint” the formatting of a cell onto another cell or range of cells. To try it, go to the NetIncome tab in the Excel Tips Workbook and perform the following steps.

  1. Select Cell A19.  This is your “source” cell.
  2. Select the italics icon , then select the Increase Indent icon .  This causes the text in Cell A19 to appear in italics and indented from the left.

Now, what if you wanted to make all the other cells in the worksheet that read “% of Revenue” look the same as this one?

  1. With Cell A19 still selected, click the Format Painter icon, then click on Cell A21.

You’ll find that Excel has now copied the formatting in the source cell (A19) to the destination cell (A21). Clicking on Cell A21 makes the formatting functionality go away. But you can retain the setting by double-clicking the Format Painter icon. Give it a try.

  1. With Cell A21 selected, double-click the Format Painter icon, then select Cells A23, A27, and any of the other cells in the worksheet that say “% of Revenue.”

Stop using the formatting functionality, select the Format Painter icon again or press the Escape key on your keyboard.  Pretty neat, huh?

This is just a small taste of the amazing things that our favorite spreadsheet program can do — for more, join my two-part, free CPE webinar, “Become EXCEL-lent – Excel Tips & Tricks for Accountants.” I’ll be presenting the webinar with FloQast on May 22 and 24. I’ll demonstrate LIVE my top Excel tips and tricks via a screenshare.

I’ll be back with more Excel tips & tricks soon! To ensure you don’t miss my next post, subscribe to FloQast Blog updates via Cloud Accounting Weekly.

About ExcelCEO:  ExcelCEO was developed by Jim Cline to train people who want to become Excel experts.  The ExcelCEO Excel course (available for Excel 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007) is self-study and is worth 40 hours of CPE credit (via NASBA’s QAS program).  For more information about CPE credits, please see the ExcelCEO website at  Feel free to browse the website and explore more about the ExcelCEO program. For more information about ExcelCEO, please email [email protected].