Clone Formatting - Cloning "No Highlight" to Highlighted Text

When cloning text that is not highlighted, and pasting the format on highlighted text, there is no change.

Is this a bug or am I missing something in the options?

I assume that your base text is direct formatted otherwise you would not use Clone Formatting.

Clone formatting copies attributes which are explicitly set (anyway, with direct formatting you can’t force the “unset” state, you can only remove a set attribute, reverting to no attribute). It then transfers those set attributes onto the destination. Since the unset attributes are not part of the operation, they won’t have any effect. Consequently the highlighting in the destination sequence is not affected if there was none in the source.

The Clone Formatting feature is a poor man’s substitute for character styles.

The fact that you try to clone the formatting demonstrates you want both sequences to look the same because they share some abstract property (they are both technical terms or excerpts in a foreign language, they both need to be emphasised, etc.). This is what a character style is meant for. Paragraph styles define global typographic attributes for the paragraph. Character styles allow to locally override or replace the attributes for some words or sequences in the paragraph (a kind of escape mechanism).

When using styles, attributes have three states:

  • “transparent”: neither set nor unset, i.e. they inherit their value from the “environment” (ancestor style or for base character style attribute in the paragraph style)

  • “set”: will override the attribute

  • “explicitly unset”: forces the absence of the attribute (e.g. not bold, not highlighted, …)

    To get an “explicitly unset” attribute, you must set it in the dialogue and immediately unset it, otherwise it remains in the “transparent” state.

Beware! Styles operate in their own layers. Schematically, you have in first approximation three layers: paragraph, character and direct formatting, the latter overriding the former. Consequently, if you apply direct formatting, your styles won’t be able to impose their own styling. Don’t mix direct formatting and styling otherwise you won’t be able to master your formatting and you’ll experience unexpected behaviour making you ask desperate questions on this site.

Learn styling from the Writer Guide.

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Thank you. I appreciate your comments. However, I still believe the cloning tool is a more valuable tool than the styles. Perhaps it is the unique way I use and navigate through the documents that I create, but I often highlight in multiple colors, bolden text, underline, increase size, etc. to bring different types of attention to different types of information (Colors for Todo’s, Questions, Pending Information, etc). I feel it would be too tedious to use the styles for each and every different attribute I want to imprint on the desired text (Style for Bold-Blue, Italic-Blue, Underline-Blue, then yellow, etc.)

Also, thank you for explaining the workings of the clone tool. I now understand how it is programmed. I don’t think that’s how it should work however. Visually, I want to clone what I’m seeing, one style to another. It should be in regards to removing color as well.

The last reason why the clone tool is more valuable to me, is because I’ve programmed some shortcuts in some of the buttons of the mouse I use. This allows me to copy-paste, and rearrange a lot of text without continuously transferring hands between the keyboard and the mouse, which saves a lot of time.

Writer tries to promote style formatting which IMHO the only way to manage complex documents in a rigorous and comfortable way. Clone formatting is just another tool for quick’n’dirty experiment, like the Ctrl+B shortcut instead of using the Strong Emphasis character style.

With a carefully designed set of custom styles, you usually “play” with less than 10 high-frequency styles (more makes your document look akward – good for ads but not for “serious” work). You can then attach keyboard shortcuts to these frequent styles with Tools>Customize. Your hands remain on the keyboard and you have full Writer power.

It seems like you’ve tested multiple angles to this and found your preferred way working