Format Painter problem

Oct 07, 2014


I'm trying to use format painter, but it's not working like I expected and I can't seem to figure out what I am doing wrong. 

I have 4 lines of text to the right hand side of the page. All have states except for the first line, which has no states. I wish to use format painter to format the three lines of texts that have states like the first line, which has no states. Basically, I want there to be no states for all lines of text. 

I select the first line text box, double click on format painter, then click on the three subsequent lines of text. The problem is, this doesn't change anything. The states still remain on the three lines of text. 

Any help would be appreciated.

Also, I am getting a 404 error when trying to upload the story file. Guess I need help getting the story file uploaded.


23 Replies
Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Adam,

The file may also be too large to upload here in the forums - as there is about a 20 mb limit. So you may want to strip it down to that slide or remove video elements that could be contributing to the overall file size.

 I did also want to share a link to this tutorial on working with the format painter. Since you have multiple objects you'd like to apply the formatting to, I wanted to point out the following tip: When you double-click the Format Painter button, it'll remain active until you turn it off. This lets you apply the same formatting to multiple objects. To turn the Format Painter off, just click it again or press the Esc key on your keyboard.

Please let us know if you need additional help.

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Adam,

Thanks for sharing the file here so that I had a better idea of what you were discussing. I see the same behavior that you and Brian both shared, and I can't say for certain if it's a bug or not but I'll be sharing with our QA team for additional review. I don't have a timeframe in regards to when I'll hear back from them, so in the meantime you'll need to edit the states of the three text lines and remove the additional states using the trash can icon. 

Adam Monk

Right. Thanks for getting back with me. In this example, deleting states for three objects is not terrible, but could have implications for a far bigger headache if I had been much further in the project. Imagine if I had 10 slides with 5 objects on each slide, times 4 states per object....well, you get the idea. 

Looking forward to hearing back!

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

Hi All,

Interesting discussion. I'd noticed this quite some time back, but didn't think of it as a bug, so I'm interested to see what QA says. The reason I didn't think of it as a bug: my interpretation of the format painter is that it copies "stuff" that's on the source onto a target. So, it should copy states that it has. But it doesn't "uncopy." So, if a source doesn't have something that the target has, it can't uncopy them.

On the other hand, if it's supposed to duplicate the source and make it exactly like the target, then I guess it should remove those states.

Got me curious now!

Adam Monk

Interesting, indeed. I think of "Format Painter" as a tool that "paints" the format of one object to another, rather than a tool that simply copies & pastes. Whether that object has 1 state or 10, shouldn't matter if you think of it like this. 

As I said earlier, the implications could be huge. Imagine a project where I had 6 states per object, 10 objects per page, 20 pages per scene and 5 scenes in the project. Then, the client wants to make a change and needs only a single state per object. That would require manually deleting 5,000 states! I realize that's probably an exaggerated circumstance, however, I do have projects for clients that are not too far off from that amount.

If "Format Painter" is truly more a "Format Copy/Paste", then perhaps we need a "Format Eraser"?

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

So, not sure if this is the application or the operating system. And again, still not sure if this is a

copy from here and paste here


duplicate exactly what's here onto here

But, to make a similar situation in PowerPoint, which of course doesn't have states, so this is SIMILAR, not exactly the same.

  • I create 2  blue shapes in PowerPoint and insert some text in them.
  • I format one shape as red.
  • I paint the formatting onto the second shape.

All is well

  • I go back to Shape 1 and delete the text. Maybe I change the color to Orange
  • I paint the formatting onto the second shape.
  • The shape is changed to orange, but the text remains.

So it copies what's on the first shape, but doesn't uncopy.

Again ... just throwing ideas around.

Kimberly Valliere

I'm having major issues with format painter and copying states on created shapes with button characteristics. It is vastly inconsistent. Sometimes it will copy exactly what I have, sometimes it will mess up the text formatting on the normal state of a button. It seems to be wildly inconsistent what it will and will not do at this point. This is a big concern because I have a very discerning client (which I LOVE) except for when I'm building buttons in SL using wingding fonts and manually tinkering with the spacing to get the arrows to line up centered. It isn't helping when FP is supposed to be an efficiency measure, but it has caused me a big headache at this point. I've redone these buttons several times and I'm sure about 50% of the issues I'm encountering are certainly user error, but I do not remember this headache ever in SL 1. If I format painted an object, it was nearly exact (especially text formatting) from the first version. (Will work on trying to illustrate this issue.)

Let's also not get me started on why a button magically adds a thick white border around itself when I am adding a thin outline to it. The border appears as an inner border before the outline I'm adding and I cannot figure out what is triggering this to happen. I've had to rebuild a few buttons because of this random feature and it only seems to occur on the built-in "down" state and it seems to stop when I build the button from scratch.

Now that I'm a bit less frustrated, I went back to document at least this bottom issue with a before and after screenshot.

Here's the before. 


The process to getting to my after would be to click on the 'down' state, go to the format tab and select 'outline' (notice, my screen captured outline is gray...not the big white inner border.)

TaDA! Big white border that I didn't create. I am working locally. The one possible "crazy inducing" activity I could be doing is 'save as' and changing the version of the file as I make major improvements. When I originally started working in SL1, that was one of those "don't do" conversations I had with experienced users. Is this still an issue because I need another way to properly version the file if so.

Seth Short

I know I'm coming in late to the conversation, but as Storyline still exhibits this behavior with Format Painter, I wanted to put in my 2 cents.

I strongly feel you need to change the Format Painter so it duplicates the formatting and states, including removing states that don't exist in the source object.

As it is, if I want to remove a state (or in my case, 4 states), I am forced to go into each shape, edit states, delete the unwanted states one at a time. I have about 30 buttons in my project that require this. This is almost as much work as just starting over and rebuilding the affected pages. Almost, but not quite. I feel that, as a tool, Format Painter isn't providing the function of saving me time and effort. If I was able to paste the exact formatting of one shape (including the number of states), it would save me a ton of time.

I can't see many circumstances where I WOULDN'T want it to remove states. Why would I paint states from one shape to another and expect the receiving object to retain other states? If I wanted this behavior, I would instead create two versions and use Format Painter to copy and apply the appropriate formatting as needed.

In other words, as it's currently designed, it's much less useful than it should be, and seems to be accommodating a workflow that doesn't match my real-world needs.

As it is, I'm going back to my project and painstakingly removing states from dozens of shapes, wishing I had a better way to do this.


Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Seth,

Even though this discussion is a bit older, I appreciate you sharing a bit about your recent experiences with the format painter in Storyline 2. I know our team made a few changes to how this behaves in Storyline 3 and Storyline 360. Take a look at the trial of Articulate 360 here, and you can view Storyline 3's trial here. 

Jason Ferguson

Hello! I'm currently using Storyline 3 and this issue still seems to be happening. I accidentally formatted some Button States on to text boxes. When I remove those excess States and go to format the other text boxes, Format Painter will not remove those excess States. Is there any word yet on a fix for this? Formatting all the state boxes to reflect the same image will still change the cursor when hovering over, so I would prefer no states to begin with. Thanks!

Paula Obrien

Wow! Super infuriating to see this issue I'm having today with Storyline 360 was an issue 7 years ago. Nice videos out there saying you simply apply your formatting to each state (works fine), select Done editing states? click the item, Double-click format painter, and voila... nothing happens. I tried it about 10 times in a row, watched the videos again, tried again, and came here. It's still not functioning. It'll only take me about 10 minutes to manually apply the formatting to a dozen objects, but sure do wish it was functioning as advertised. 

Maria Costa-Stienstra

Hi, Paula. 

Thank you for reaching out, and I'm sorry to hear you're experiencing issues with the format painter!

Are you able to record your screen showing what you are experiencing?

I also want to ask you the following questions to help troubleshoot: