Issue with Clone tool at Writer for Windows

Hello all,

I’m having some issues with the clone tool of Writer. I’m copying some text from websites to my document on Writer, and the first thing I do is to use the clone tool to standardize the text. I use the clone tool because some text after copying them, they are too small, or tilting, or light grey, in general not easy to read, and with clone I don’t (or shouldn’t) need to change 1 by 1 the fount, size, color,…

Well, the issue here is; it is not working. Sometime it change the size only, other times change only the color, and most of the times it doesn’t change anything. So well, it’s useless.

I would like to know if in LO there is anything special to do with this tool, as I’m using it on the same way I use it on Word. Select the text which format I want to clone, select the clone tool and drag on the new text.

I write on the subject of the question that I am using Windows, as I feel the LO for windows is much less polished than LO for Linux. For many reasons; resource consuming, usability, functions…
I’m don’t want to enter on this subject here. I’ll open another question to discuss about it.

HI. If you hover over the Format Painter icon you will see a tool tip suggesting Double-click and CTRL give other options. Double-clicking on the icon means the painter stays active. Holding down CTRL while painting will change size and colour too.

Using Styles is a better option generally. If you have adjusted your Default style to what you want then selecting your newly pasted text and double-clicking Default Style in the Styles sidebar (F11) gives you more control if you want to change the look of your document subsequently. You can create or modify other styles to suit.

I use LibreOffice on Windows without any problems, currently 124MB in memory as as I’m not typing on it now, nothing in CPU. The only difference between Windows and Linux Mint I see is Linux can use coloured fonts but that is a limitation of Windows 10, not LO.

Cheers, Al

… and it’s covered in more details in Help.


Size and colour are character formatting; so, without Ctrl.

“By default only the character formatting is copied ; to include paragraph formatting, hold down Ctrl when you click. To copy only the paragraph formatting, hold down Ctrl+Shift when you click.”

(Previously unknown to me the function with Ctrl and Ctrl+Shift).

Interesting point about CTRL+SHIFT+click.

Once again I am guilty of over-simplifying. The reason Barbarur was seeing unexpected results was that web pages have all sorts of things, Styles being one. If you copy Default Style from your document with Clone Formatting and paint previously pasted HTML without CTRL then text that is formatted with, say, Heading 2 will not change to look like Default Text.

I normally don’t use Clone Formatting for text, always Styles (and sometimes CTRL+M to clear any lingering direct formatting) because I know what I am getting. I have on the task bar a huge button “Paste Unformatted Text” so I can paste text which will take up the style of the paragraph I am pasting it into.

The above is another simplification. Sometimes, I have to use MS Word and then I do use the similar function because Word hides other tools; if they do exist.


Until now I never thinked to use a button to “Paste Unformatted Text”. Could be a good idea. I just press in rapid sequence Ctrl+Shift+V, End, UpArrow, Enter (sometimes need two UpArrow, or more, sometimes no one, and that “mess up”(?) ).

I have added a “Paste Unformatted Text” button since 1995 with WordPro, then OOo, etc. Never seen an icon for it but it stands out like a beacon and is one of the very few customisations I make. I think the writing is wearing off now :slight_smile:

Thank you all for the answers.

“Ctrl+M” and “Paste unformatted test” both are great alternatives, even better, for what I was doing.

Now, even though those are great solutions, I’m still struggling on how to use the Clone tool (for the future). I’ve just tried, I have my standard text; Calibri, 12, Bold, and I copied a text from an email; Bodoni MT, 9, Regular.

  • Using Ctrl + Shift with cloning: the text becomes Calibri, Bold. But still size 9 instead of 12.

  • Using Ctrl with cloning: Same as above.
    I didn’t see any difference between double click on the clone tool or single click.

  • Using only the cloning tool; The text becomes Bold, but remains Bodoni MT and size 9

I’m not sure if the clone tool in Writer is different as in Word (not aiming the same goal), or the use is different and I don’t get how to manage it.

Double-clicking the Clone Formatting icon keeps it selected for multiple format changes while a single click unselects it after the first format change.

You might find a use for the shortcut for Paste Unformatted Text which is CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+V although I find the button easier. Right-click on the toolbar and select Customise Toolbar… On the right hand side in the window Assigned Commands, select Paste. In the Search box at top left, type paste and select Paste Unformatted Text, click the big right pointing arrow and the command should appear next to Paste. OK out and you can paste unformatted without straining your hand

@Barbarur: you could provide a sample document to test if you want someone to provide a specific advise. You had been provided with the explanation in general; but it’s unknown which specifics (LO version with bugs? some formatting we didn’t think of? …) plays its role in your case (“I have my standard text; Calibri, 12, Bold, and I copied a text from an email; Bodoni MT, 9, Regular” … etc).


  • Two options for the first step:

A. Paste the new text (usually Ctl+V), select the newly pasted text and clear direct formating (Ctrl+M or menu Format - Clear Direct Formating).

B. Paste the new text as unformatted text (shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Shift+V or menu Edit - Paste Special - Paste Unformatted Text).

  • Clone formating: Select text with the desired format, pulse on the Clone Formating button, select the new text to apply the desired format.

Using the clone formatting tool over a preformatted text will not change font name nor font size, but font color, highlight color, bold/italic/underline/etc. status.

I need a few more trial and error to master clone formating with Ctrl and Ctrl+Shift.



This is the testing file I’m using. I’m trying to copy the format of the random letters at the top to the text at the bottom.

Be aware, the text at the bottom is all at 9 size, but at the end of the paragraph there is a space at font size 12.
I think this might the cause a problem, because if I select all the paragraph the font size at the toolbar is blank (logically, because there are 2 different sizes) and I change to 9, then if I try to apply the clone tool + Ctrl, the clone tool works as expected, as it does in MS Word without Ctrl.

BUT, it I keep or simply delete that space, then the clone tool doesn’t perform correctly, having the same issues as mentioned above.

I didn’t made that space at the end of the paragraph on purpose, neither I changed it’s size. I didn’t do anything, just copying a text from an email. I don’t know how that happened, though I guess it happened also before while I was working and realized about the clone tool issue.

Again the “Ctrl + M” and “Paste unformatted text” are both great solutions for what I was doing, and I will apply them. I think they are even faster options.
I just want to have a better understanding on the clone tool. Or if it’s a bug, bring awareness about it.

Clone tool test.odt

Answering after testing the Clone tool test.odt provided by @Barbarur.

The target paragraph in the attachment has the following structure. The paragraph itself is formatted Bodoni MT and has Default paragraph style, from which size 12pt comes; part of its characters has font size 9pt and font color black applied directly. So take a note that for that part of characters, the character properties are Bodoni MT and 9pt; the paragraph style is not a character property.

The source paragraph is formatted bold, and has Default paragraph style, hence 12pt and Calibri. It has no special formatting for parts of its characters. So take a note that for this text, the character property is bold; the paragraph style is not a character property.

When you copy the formatting from the source (without any keys), only character properties are copied. So you are applying bold to the target text, without modifying anything else: the font name is not affected (since it’s not defined as a character property in the source); nor font size (for the same reason) or font color.

When you use Ctrl, you copy both character properties, and paragraph properties. Copying the paragraph properties, the target paragraph turns from “Standard+Bodoni MT” into “Standard”; and copying character properties, the selected characters become “whatever they were + the character properties at the source”, which adds bold.

I don’t see a difference with Ctrl+Shift. In the end, I suppose it’s a bug:

  1. Ctrl+Shift must not change runs of text - it should only change paragraph properties.
  2. Copying paragraph properties, it replaces all target paragraph settings with part of source paragraph settings (so bold at paragraph level is not considered paragraph formatting, and is not applied to the target paragraph; Bodoni MT is removed from the paragraph formatting). But when applying character formatting, its current property set is not replaced with the applied settings, but they are added. This of course relates to the specifics that character properties may be nested (one text run inside another one), but all in all, the function behaves inconsistently and unpredictably.

Personally I would think that it would be better that if a property is defined on a paragraph level, it be applied only at paragraph level (so that bold not copied when cloning format without Ctrl; and when used with Ctrl, it is copied to the target paragraph, not to characters). But anyway, cloning formatting is very simplistic tool for something as complex as formatting when we talk about things that may be defined on at least 4 different levels (character direct formatting; character style; paragraph direct formatting; paragraph style) with inheritance and nesting (character styles may be nested, not only inherited, although UI is missing for that (tdf#115311)).

Thank you for the analysis @mikekaganski,

I think I understood almost everything, though I never thought on the clone tool dividing those 4 different levels. Therefore in some parts I’m still confused.

Overall, I agree the clone tool is not the most appropriate for formatting, and I think the clone tool provably should be simplified. Right now it looks more powerful than the one at MS Office, but also a bit confusing, while for more complex work there is already better and more efficient alternatives.

All personal opinion, I’m still a fresh landed on LO.