How to Copy and Paste Excel Chart Formatting

Copying and pasting chart formatting is a game-changer in Excel. It’s fast, easy, and helps you save time. We’ll explain how to seamlessly copy and paste your chart styles from one chart to another, ensuring each graph or chart maintains consistency and improves the overall professionalism of your report.

Learn how to copy and paste Excel chart formatting using the Excel paste special functionality

Copying and pasting formatting between charts is similar to copying and pasting special when you want to copy only select parts of cell contents, such as the values or the formatting.

Why Excel Chart Formatting Matters

Excel chart formatting goes beyond cosmetic changes. It’s about crafting a visual narrative that aligns with your brand and enhances the interpretability, and credibility of your data. The strategic use of colors, fonts, and styles can direct your audience’s attention to key insights, fostering a deeper understanding of complex information.

At the end of the day, it is human nature to believe numbers and assume accuracy when things are neatly presented and are graphically pleasing to the eye even if the story the numbers themselves tell are not portraying good news.

Effective chart formatting has the following impact:

  • Strengthen Brand Image – Using color schemes that echo your corporate brand improves readability.
  • Enhance Communication – Consistently formatted charts are easier to read and quicker to understand.
  • Save Time – Knowing how to quickly replicate chart formatting can save valuable hours in data reporting.
  • Improve Credibility – Appropriately sized, and consistently formatted charts are seen as more accurate.

Anyone looking to put together a professional presentation, should take some time to ensure that charts and graphs have consistent formatting to improve how your audience interprets the data being presented.

How to Copy and Paste Excel Chart Formatting

To Copy and Paste formatting from one Excel chart to another, follow these steps:

  1. Select your source chart, Right-click, and select Copy (CTRL + C) to copy it.
  2. Click on the destination chart.
  3. Right-click and select ‘Paste Special’, then ‘Formats’ to apply the source chart’s formatting.

This straightforward method keeps your data intact while updating the visual style, turning Excel into a powerful ally for consistent report presentation.

Here’s how in more detail.

Step 1.) Right-Click and Copy the Source Chart

You can either use the mouse to right click on a chart to copy it, or you can press CTRL + C and use the keyboard short for Copy. Don’t worry about copying the entire chart, we will only paste the formatting portion of it.

Screenshot of copying Excel chart formatting

Step 2.) Right-Click and Paste Special on the Destination Chart

For the destination chart, you can either right-click and choose Paste Special.

Screenshot of paste special to apply copied chart formatting

Step 3.) Paste Special Formats

Under the Paste Special options for charts, Excel gives you the option to paste the entire chart, formats, or only formulas that may exist in the source chart.

Screenshot of paste special chart options

Keyboard Shortcut Tip: You can use a string of keyboard shortcuts to Paste Special Formatting by pressing ALT + E + S + T after selecting the destination visual.

Copying Formatting to Multiple Charts and the Format Painter

Unfortunately, Excel does not support the ability to copy and paste special, formatting to multiple charts at one time. You will need to copy and paste source to destination formatting one chart at a time. Excel also does not support the use of the Format Painter to copy and paste chart formatting as of writing.

One option that could save time is to save the source chart as a template, and then the template will appear under the Chart Design Options settings of the Excel Ribbon, giving you a button to assign chart styles, but the process will still need to be done one at a time.

Saving Custom Chart Templates for Quick Formatting

One often overlooked feature of Excel is the ability to save a chart format template. They work by allowing you to setup a single chart with the desired formatting, and you then save a file to your desktop or a network drive. After saving the template, it will appear under available Chart Design Options and can be applied with the format button.

Here’s how in more detail.

Step 1.) Setup a chart with desired formatting and Save a Template

After you setup a chart with desired formatting, you can right-click on it and Save as a Template.

Saving chart formatting as a template

The template then becomes available in the Excel Chart Design Ribbon for you to select, or you can select it with on object formatting options.

Step 2.) Use the On Object Format Button to Apply Template Formatting

The standard method of applying a chart formatting is to go to the Chart Design section of the Excel Ribbon and select a pre-made format, or in this case a template that we’ve saved.

Screenshot of the Chart Design Templates and Chart Styles Ribbon

An alternative in newer versions of Excel is to select and assign a style using the On Object Format button that appears to the right of a selected chart. Microsoft has recognized that many people utilize Excel in non-traditional form factors such as tablets, or more often laptop computers without a mouse, so they’ve placed more options directly next to a visual to help you get common tasks done quicker.

Applying a saved chart format template in Excel using the On Object format style selector

After saving a custom template, you can use the format button next to each visual to apply formatting. By utilizing templates you can create once, and re-use many times. It’s also helpful when working on a team to ensure consistent presentations across team members. Microsoft explains how chart templates work in greater detail here: Save a custom chart as a template – Microsoft Support

Conclusion

The ability to copy and paste chart formatting in Excel is a crucial skill for maintaining visual consistency and reinforcing brand identity when creating reports designed to share with others. When formatting is consistent and on brand, people will take the numbers being presented more seriously.

One of the primary ways to keep formatting consistent is by copying and pasting formatting from one chart or graph to another. While Excel doesn’t support the ability to use the format painter, or paste special to multiple charts at one time it is possible to create a template, save it, and apply the formatting template to each chart one at a time with a couple clicks of the mouse.

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