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Selective Formatting in Excel

Ever find that you need the column width from one column transferred to others without all the data and other formatting?

Maybe the width you need is in a column formatted as bolded text and, while the width needs to be transferred, the rest doesn’t. In a case such as this the old Format Painter won’t help as much as we’d like it to, since it transfers all formatting.

We could use the Format button on the Home tab to get to the column width setting… this would allow us to enter the exact numeric width but it can be a bit of a pain since we need to go and find that width value.

I vote we avoid that and try for something that’s very effective as well as efficient.

Today we’re going to use yet another aspect of the very versatile Paste Special.

With that said, let’s get started.

First, select a cell in the column with the needed width.

Now copy that cell.

At this point you need to select a cell in the column(s) to be changed. (You can select cells in several columns… using the Shift and Ctrl keys for selection if necessary.)

Time for Paste Special:

Go to the Home tab of the Ribbon and click the bottom portion of the Paste button. Choose Paste Special from the list.

When the Paste Special dialog box opens you’re looking for the Columns Widths option.


After selecting this option click OK.

Poof! Column width changed without a lot of hassle or unwanted formatting to be undone.

~ April