Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

What! That is cool… Format Painter in Google Sheets

This is going to be amazing... and easy Use format painter in Google Sheets. It is truly fun to magically apply formatting in multiple places across your spreadsheet.
What! That is cool… Format Painter in Google Sheets

You’ve put a lot of work into making one cell in your Google Sheet look just right. You’ve picked the font, color, size, and maybe even added a cool border. But now you need to make the rest of your spreadsheet match, and doing it one cell at a time sounds like a total pain. That’s where format painter in Google Sheets comes in handy! This super useful icon lets you copy the formatting from one cell and paste it onto as many others as you want. It’s like magic for your spreadsheet!

Styling Your Cell in Google Sheets

Don’t settle for a boring spreadsheet! You can easily add visual interest and make your data pop by applying different formatting options to your cells. Once you’ve achieved the perfect look for one cell, you can use the handy format painter in Google Sheets to effortlessly replicate it across your entire spreadsheet.


Experiment with different fonts to find the one that best suits your style and purpose. Classic options like Arial and Times New Roman offer a clean, professional look, while more unique fonts can add a touch of personality. Consider factors like readability and the overall tone of your spreadsheet when making your choice.


Incorporate color strategically to enhance the visual appeal and organization of your spreadsheet. You can customize both the text color and the background color of each cell. Use color to highlight important information, create distinct categories, or simply add a splash of personality to your data.


Adjust the font size to ensure your text is easily legible and appropriately sized for the content of each cell. Larger font sizes can draw attention to headings or important data points, while smaller sizes are suitable for detailed notes or annotations.


Adding borders to your cells can effectively define sections, emphasize specific data points, or create a visually appealing structure. Google Sheets offers a variety of border styles, colors, and thicknesses to suit your preferences. Use borders sparingly to avoid cluttering your spreadsheet and maintain a clean, professional look.

Number Formatting

Numbers are the backbone of many spreadsheets, especially for teachers tracking grades or attendance. Google Sheets offers various number formats to display your data accurately and professionally. Choose from options like currency, percentage, date, time, or even create custom formats to suit your specific needs.

Alignment and Text Wrapping

Control how your text appears within cells with alignment and text wrapping options. You can align text to the left, center, or right, and choose whether to wrap text that exceeds the cell’s width. This is particularly useful for ensuring that long headings or notes remain readable within their respective cells.

Cell Merging

Merging cells allows you to combine multiple cells into a single larger cell. This can be helpful for creating headers, titles, or other elements that span multiple columns. Format painter can replicate the merged state of cells along with their formatting, streamlining the process of creating visually cohesive layouts.

What is Format Painter in Google Sheets?

Format Painter, located in the Google Sheets toolbar, is a feature designed to streamline the formatting process and ensure a consistent look throughout your spreadsheet. With a simple click and drag, you can effortlessly replicate the formatting of one cell and apply it to multiple others, saving valuable time and effort.

Learn More about Google Sheets from Teacher Tech

Format Painter is Easy

Replicating the format choices one cell to another cell, or range of cells, is easy! 

  1. Apply formatting to a cell such as font size, color, border, fill, etc…
  2. Single click on the cell with the formatting. 
  3. Click on the format painter icon in the toolbar. It looks like a paint roller. 
  4. Click on another cell (or drag over a range of cells)
    🪄 Like magic the cell matches the formatting. 

How Teachers Can Use Format Painter in Google Sheets

Teachers juggle countless tasks daily, from grading assignments and tracking attendance to planning lessons and communicating with parents. Google Sheets can be a lifesaver in keeping everything organized and accessible. And with the help of the “Format Painter” tool, even those unfamiliar with spreadsheets can create visually appealing and easy-to-use documents.

Spreadsheets: Your All-in-One Classroom Organizer

Dare I say that using Google Sheets is fun?! Format painter definitely adds to the fun by taking away some of the tediousness of setting the same font color over and over again. Here are some reasons you might be using spreadsheets for your classroom: 

  1. Effortless Data Management: Keep track of student grades, attendance records, contact information, and more in one convenient place. Say goodbye to paper clutter and easily access your data from any device with internet access.

  2. Grading Made Easy: Let Google Sheets handle the tedious calculations, freeing up your time for more meaningful tasks. Automatically calculate averages, track progress, and generate reports with a few clicks.

  3. Organized Lesson Planning: Create structured lesson plans that outline learning objectives, activities, assessments, and resources. Share and collaborate with colleagues in real-time, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

  4. Data-Driven Insights: Gain valuable insights into student performance by analyzing data within your spreadsheets. Identify trends, personalize instruction, and make informed decisions to support your students’ learning.

  5. Time-Saving Automation: Automate repetitive tasks like generating reports, sending emails, or creating personalized student feedback, allowing you to focus on what matters most: teaching.



Books by Alice Keeler

Available on Amazon or in bulk order.

Have Alice come work with your school or organization to improve your use of Google Sheets and Google Workspace. 

Format Painter: Your Spreadsheet's Magic Wand

Format Painter isn’t just a magic wand; it’s a versatile tool that can streamline your workflow and elevate the look of your spreadsheets. Let’s dive into specific examples of how teachers can use Format Painter in different classroom scenarios:

Grading Spreadsheets: Color-Coded Clarity

  1. Create a “Master Cell”: Designate a cell as your formatting template. Choose a font, color, size, and border that you want to apply to specific grades (e.g., green for A’s, yellow for B’s, etc.).
  2. Activate Format Painter: Click on your “Master Cell,” then click the paint roller icon in the toolbar.
  3. Paint Your Grades: Click on each cell containing the corresponding grade. The formatting will be applied instantly, creating a visually organized grade book.

Lesson Plans: Structured and Stylish

  1. Craft a Section Header: Format one section header (e.g., “Learning Objectives”) with the desired font, size, color, and any additional formatting like bold or italics.
  2. Activate Format Painter: Click on the formatted header cell, then click the paint roller icon.
  3. Paint Your Sections: Click on each of your other section headers to apply the same formatting, creating a cohesive and professional-looking lesson plan.

Attendance Trackers: Quick and Clear Overviews

  1. Designate Attendance Statuses: Create cells for “Present” (green), “Absent” (red), and “Tardy” (yellow), each with their respective formatting.
  2. Activate Format Painter: Click on one of the formatted cells, then click the paint roller icon.
  3. Paint Your Attendance: Click on each cell to mark students’ attendance. The color-coded formatting will provide a clear overview of who is present, absent, or tardy.

Data Analysis and Reporting: Professional Presentation

  1. Format a Data Cell: Choose the formatting you want for specific data types (e.g., percentages in blue with two decimal places).
  2. Activate Format Painter: Click on the formatted cell, then click the paint roller icon.
  3. Paint Your Data: Click on the other cells containing the same type of data to apply the consistent formatting, creating a polished and professional report.

Bonus Tip: Format Painter can also copy conditional formatting! If you’ve set up conditional formatting rules (e.g., highlighting cells with values above a certain threshold), you can copy these rules to other cells using Format Painter.

Alice Keeler Queen of Spreadsheets Uses Format Painter in Google Sheets

As the “Queen of Spreadsheets,” I might use Format Painter in Google Sheets in a variety of ways to save time and improve the accuracy and consistency of their spreadsheet documents. Here are a few examples of how I might use the tool:

  • Applying a consistent look and feel to a large spreadsheet with many different types of data. For example, I might use Format Painter to apply a particular font, cell border, and cell color to all the cells in the document, or to specific types of cells (e.g., cells containing dates, cells containing sums, etc.).
  • Copying formatting from one part of the spreadsheet to another. For example, I might use Format Painter to copy the formatting of a cell or range of cells containing data they want to highlight and apply it to other cells or ranges of cells containing similar data.
  • Applying formatting to a large number of cells quickly and accurately. For example, I might use Format Painter to apply formatting to a large number of cells at once, rather than formatting each cell individually, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

Overall, the Queen of Spreadsheets uses Format Painter in Google Sheets as a fast and efficient way to apply formatting consistently and accurately throughout their spreadsheet documents.

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