How to Use the Format Painter in Power BI

Creating a professional report using Power BI goes beyond just the data – it also hinges on effective presentation. As a Power BI user, you likely dedicate a significant amount of time refining the visuals in your reports to ensure effective data presentation.

If you’re looking to optimize the process of creating captivating and professional data visualizations and reports in Power BI, the Format Painter is one tool you want to use more often.

In this article, we’ll dive into how you can improve your workflow and efficiency using the Format Painter.

What is the Format Painter in Power BI?

The Format Painter in Power BI is an integrated tool that lets you easily copy the style of one visual element and apply it to others.

Just like the Format Painter in other Microsoft Office tools such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, this tool allows you to quickly and easily transfer formatting from one element to another.

The Format Painter simplifies the process of maintaining uniformity and consistency across various visuals in your report.

By allowing you to duplicate the style of one visual across visuals with minimal effort, the Format Painter boosts efficiency and ensures a polished and coherent report design.

When you use the Format Painter, it copies the following elements;

  • Title: All options apart from the actual text.
  • Data Labels: All options except Display Units & Decimal Places.
  • Data Colors: Default Color and, if the same field is used to drive color, copy the color/value assignments.
  • X-axis & Y-axis: All options apart from Start/End.
  • Legend: All options apart from the actual text.
  • Borders and Slicers: All options.
  • Sentiment Colors (for Waterfall Charts): All options.

If the options are not present in the target visualization (for example, transferring X-axis options from a Scatter Chart to a Column Chart), they will simply be omitted.

In Power BI, you will find the Format painter in the Home menu. It will be greyed-out and only become active after you select a visual.

Using the Format Painter

The format painter saves you a lot of time because it allows you to simply copy and paste a visuals formatting on another. But how do you use it?? Simple. Just follow these steps.

This visual sample showcases varying colors for different months. It serves as a small illustration of visuals that may require significant formatting time. When functions are used to create custom formatting, some visuals can demand even more time for refinement.

To create a fresh visual with a similar structure but showcasing different data points while keeping the original design, use the Format Painter to apply the formatting to the new visual element.

The first step involves selecting the visual that has the formatting you want to copy by clicking on it. This will activate the format painter icon which you will also click on to copy the formatting on the selected visual.

After clicking on the format painter icon, the arrow will change to a paint brush. All you have to do now is to move the paint brush to your second visual and click on it. This will paste the formatting from the first visual on the second visual.

In the latest update of Power BI Desktop, you now have the ability to easily transfer formatting between pages. Once you’ve copied the formatting of a visual, just navigate to the page where you wish to apply the same formatting to another visual.

Benefits of Using the Format Painter

Fixing formatting and visuals in Power BI reports eats up time. The Format Painter simplifies this, ensuring consistent styling and efficiency. Here are some benefits of using the Format Painter.

  1. Massive Time Savings: Replicating formatting manually can be incredibly tedious, especially in reports with lots of visuals. The Format Painter lets you copy your perfect style in a single click and apply it instantly.
  2. Consistency: A core principle of good design is visual consistency. The Format Painter ensures that all your charts, tables, text boxes, etc., adhere to the same colors, fonts, and overall style, leading to a more professional, easy-to-follow report.
  3. Efficiency: If you need to make changes to a formatting style that’s been used throughout your report, you don’t need to edit each visual individually. Simply modify the formatting of one element, and then use the Format Painter to spread the update everywhere else.
  4. Ease of Use: The Format Painter is incredibly straightforward. With a few clicks, you can master this tool and start saving valuable time when creating your reports.


In conclusion, the Format Painter in Power BI is an indispensable tool when creating reports. It offers a myriad of benefits that significantly enhance the efficiency, consistency, and overall quality of visualizations.

By allowing you to quickly copy and apply formatting properties across various visuals on different pages, it streamlines the formatting process. This saves time and effort, ensuring a polished and professional presentation of data.

About the Author

Oluwaseun Olatoye

Oluwaseun Olatoye

Oluwaseun is a business intelligence analyst with expertise in Google Sheets, Excel, Power BI, SQL. He has worked with various businesses to make data-driven decisions. He enjoys helping others learn and grow.

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