Different applications will use different methods and locations to store your personal preferences. Apart from common MS applications which many members of this forum will be familiar with, all other applications will require contributions from whoever has knowledge and experience of them.
Even if you post a complete list of the applications you are interested in, and you get members to post the specific locations for each one of them, it will take you a very long time to copy each and every one of them without missing one or two out.
Which is why most people would simply create a backup image of the whole lot, especially after all the time required to install numerous programs as well.
I presume your reluctance to back-up everything is down to space or capacity of CDs?