Why is "clone formatting" almost useless?

So I am a very capable user of MSWord; been formatting large and complex docs on that platform for decades. I’ve switched to LO and am really excited about moving quickly away from MS.

I’ve been having a good time with writer and don’t complain too much about its differences. I really appreciate the considerable effort that has been sustained over the last several years to move the product along. What escapes me is that the FORMATTING PAINTBRUSH, or CLONE FORMATTER doesn’t do what I think it is supposed to do.

Here is a typical scenario. I’m formatting a short document that I have typed and I don’t bother setting up and using styles. Instead I simply get a paragraph set with the font, size, line spacing, etc. I want to use the PAINTBRUSH or CLONE tool to copy the formatting that I have from that paragraph to the others in the document. About all I get is the font size, or so it seems.

Why doesn’t this tool take ALL of my formatting values, not just changes but ALL OF THE VALUES, and then apply them to what gets painted?

I think I read somewhere that I can contort fingers to perform some OPTION-CONTROL-BACKWARDS-TRIPLE-LINDY-CLICK when using this tool and I’ll get more than the default.

Without getting everything, this tool is useless for me. What gives? Can I permanently fix this?


You should pick one of the answers so others can benefit from them. Thanks.

This is one of the issues I’m struggling with in moving from MS Word - I am used to clone formatting working perfectly. In writer I can get it to work partially if I remember to also hold CTRL, but even then it often ignores some element e.g. a font change, so it still doesn’t copy all the formatting. If you’re just trying to make one pasted in paragraph look the same as what’s around it, this can be infuriating!

By default, LO copies only character formating, not the paragraph style.

To get what you want, try CTRL + mouse click and that will include paragraph formatting. To copy only the paragraph formating do CTRL + SHIFT + mouse click.

Read Help pages on copying attributes with the format paintbrush.

Did help a lot thanks!

YEAH! Thank you!

Need 5 points to upvote … how to get 5 points since everyone cannot upvote it seems …

That’s a useful tip - though it should be noted that even with CTRL it still doesn’t change everything, unlike MS Word. I cloned formatting and it didn’t affect the fonts, so the paragraphs still looked different.

This works but needed some trial and error - the ctrl- or ctrl+shift- is needed when you do the selection for the paste action, not the copy. So no mouse click involved - you have to select the whole area you want to apply the formatting to or you will get unpredictable changes.

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Use Styles, its so much easier than copying and pasting formats to multiple places in your document. You can even just use the default “Text Body” for all your paragraphs. After you change the format of one paragraph, use “Styles”. “Update Styles” instead of copy and pasting formats to multiple paragraphs.

I completely backup this recommendation. Even for one-shot document, using styles is THE solution. You can do with 3-4 styles in a letter for example.

I completely not backup this. Applying style rarely work with bullets and numbering

@Djerem_84: if you create your bulleted or numbered lists with toolbar buttons, surely this won’t give you a reliable, predictable list formatting. This is direct formatting and plays nasty tricks on your back as you experience. Lists can be efficiently controlled by styles but built-in list-intended styles like List n and Numbering n are simple paragraph styles because they are not linked to a numbering style.

yeah the built-in style are acting weird. Need to create every style from scratch and then it works. So little time so much work sadly.

All you need to do on built-in styles is to link, say Numbering 1, in tab Outline & Numbering with Numbering style Numbering 1. Then it behaves like a list.

The main differrence between M$ Word and LO is the number of formatting layers.

In M$Word, you have only one, therefore copying or cloning format properties is easy and unambiguous.

In LO, you have three: paragraph, character, manual (or "direct formatting*). Consequently, when you try to clone, which layer do you copy?

As pointed out by @Kruno, LO chooses character as it makes sense: you can set paragraph style from the menu. But I would guess, it clones only direct formatting on the same ground as paragraph style: a named character style can also be set from the menu.

Unless you are writing a short document which will be thrown away as soon as it is sent/printed, I’d recommend using styles. You can design your styles in a “representative” document and afterwards load them from there in new documents (or open the old document and rewrite it, with the risk of erasing the original) if you don’t want to invest into template management.

I can’t upvote, so I’ll reply, hoping to garner some attention to this. It’s the only reason I joined this forum. In MS Word, one can copy and paste formatting (which includes indenting and, most of all, line spacing.) I often have several paragraphs (with things like bullet points) that need to be identically formatted. I typically adjust one and then paste the format to the other paragraphs. I’m used doing this to all (or at least several) and only then checking whether the visual feel is as I want it. Without this feature, trial and error is very tedious, forI have to change line spacing in all the items to 0.04, then checking whether it works, then going to 0.06 in all paragraphs one by one.This is especially important in presentations. Impress doesn’t even have the format paintbrush. It being only available in Writer is not ideal but workable, as I can always cut and paste. Is any solution on the works? I’ve installed a linux distribution (Ubuntu) and it would gut me to go back to Windows (which I’ll resist until the very end), but without this I can’t honestly tell people what I want to tell them, namely that the fully open-source LibreOffice has every feature MS Office does, and hence that there’s no need for office computers to run Windows (which is very expensive.)

Any way, thank you so much for the work you’ve done so far. You have a 4.5 stars Office Suite which I believe is better than MS Office. Unfortunately, getting people to change software is hard (like languages, only the second one is hard to learn) and so Libre Office is going to be held to a higher standard than MS Office. It sucks, but it’s how it is.

Thanks everyone who’s part of the development of the software, this community and this forum,

That’s my experience, too - I really like LO, but some of the tasks which MS Word does quickly and consistently are hard or impossible to replicate in LO at present, including cloning formatting for a quick (but internally consistent) doc, probably content pasted from elsewhere, where styles are overkill.

It’s just “we’re linux so f*** how Office does it” thinking

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