The solution: The intelligent Format Painter
I started by showing the user how to save time by using the Format Painter. We formatted the first row as light green, selected that row, and double-clicked the Format Painter. (It's the icon in the Standard toolbar that looks like a paintbrush.) Then, to "paint" additional rows, all we had to do was click on the row's number, and the Format Painter copied the "light green fill" attribute onto the target row.

After the user gushed for a bit about how cool she thought the Format Painter was, we kicked it up a notch. Because the Format Painter is smart enough to recognize patterns when you've selected two or more rows, we were able to format every other row in her spreadsheet with one swipe of the mouse.

First, we selected two rows—the first, plain row of data and the row that had been formatted with a light green fill. Next, we clicked the Format Painter once, and clicked on the first row number below our selection, and dragged down the column. Figure B shows what the sheet looked like while we were copying. (Notice the paintbrush icon near the bottom of the range we were formatting.) Figure C shows the final result.

Figure B
When you select two or more rows and click the Format Painter, the program copies the formatting from each row.



Figure C
When you use the Format Painter to apply formatting from two or more rows, Excel formats subsequent rows using the same patterns. (In this case, the pattern is one plain row followed by one shaded row.)

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