Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for data management and calculation, but its true strength lies in formulas. Whether you’re calculating totals, applying tax, or analyzing large datasets, formulas are indispensable. Learning how to copy formulas efficiently can save time and improve accuracy, especially when working with multiple rows or columns. In this tutorial, we’ll explore various methods to copy Excel formulas, whether you want to copy them down a column, across nonadjacent cells, or without copying formatting.
Excel offers several ways to handle formulas depending on your needs. From simple dragandfill techniques to more advanced methods like copying without changing references, mastering these approaches will help you handle large data sets with ease.
How to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel
Copying a formula down a column in Excel is a common task, especially when you need to apply calculations across many rows. This method ensures that each cell adjusts its references based on its position in the column.
 Select the cell with the formula
Click on the cell that contains the formula you want to copy. Ensure that the formula is correctly written and references the right cells.
 Drag the formula down the column
Hover your cursor over the small square in the bottomright corner of the selected cell (this is known as the fill handle). When the cursor changes to a plus sign, click and drag the fill handle down the column to fill the formula into the adjacent cells.
 Release and check the adjusted formulas
Once you release the mouse button, Excel will automatically copy the formula into the selected cells, adjusting the references according to their position.
 Review the results
Check the filled cells to ensure the references have been correctly adjusted based on the rows.
How to Copy a Formula Down without Copying Formatting
Sometimes, you want to copy a formula but avoid copying over formatting such as font styles, colors, or borders. This method will help you copy only the formula itself.
 Select the cell with the formula
Click on the cell containing the formula that you want to copy down the column.
 Use AutoFill options
After dragging the formula down, click on the small “AutoFill Options” icon that appears near the bottom of the filled cells. From the dropdown menu, select “Fill Without Formatting“. This ensures that only the formula is copied without carrying over the cell’s formatting.
 Check the results
Verify that the formula was copied without any formatting changes.
How to Copy a Formula to the Entire Column
When working with large datasets, manually dragging the formula down the entire column can be timeconsuming. Here’s a faster way to copy formulas across an entire column.
 Select the cell with the formula
Hover over the fill handle, as described earlier, but instead of dragging, doubleclick it. Excel will automatically fill the formula down to the last adjacent cell that contains data.
 Check the results
Check the results to ensure that the formula has been applied correctly throughout the column.
Create an Excel table to copy a formula to all cells in a column automatically
Among other great features of Excel tables such as predefined styles, sorting, filtering and banded rows, automatically calculated columns is what makes an Excel table a truly wonderful tool for analyzing groups of related data.
By simply inputting a formula into any cell within a table column, you establish a calculated column, which then replicates the formula throughout the column’s cells. This functionality surpasses the traditional fill handle, as Excel tables effortlessly copy formulas down the entire column, regardless of any intervening empty rows.
 Select the range and press “Ctrl + T”
Highlight the data range and press “Ctrl + T” to convert it into a table. This allows Excel to apply tablespecific functions such as autofilling formulas.
 Confirm the table
A dialog box will appear to confirm the range. Click “OK” to create the table.
 Enter your formula
Click on any cell in the table column and enter your formula. The formula will automatically replicate down the entire column.
 Verify the results
Check the column to ensure the formula has been correctly applied to all the cells in the table.
How to Copy a Formula to NonAdjacent Cells or Ranges
There are cases when you need to copy a formula to cells that aren’t next to each other. This method will show you how to do this effectively.
 Copy the formula from the original cell
Select the cell containing the formula, and press “Ctrl + C” to copy it.
 Select nonadjacent cells
Hold the “Ctrl” key and click on the cells where you want to paste the formula.
 Paste the formula
Press “Ctrl + V” to paste the formula into all the selected nonadjacent cells.
How to Enter a Formula into Multiple Cells at Once
You can apply a formula to several cells simultaneously, which can be handy when working with multiple columns or rows.
 Select the cells
Highlight the range of cells where you want the formula to be applied.
 Enter the formula
Type the desired formula, but instead of pressing “Enter“, use “Ctrl + Enter” to apply the formula to all the selected cells at once.
 Check the results
Check that the formula was applied correctly across all the cells.
How to Copy an Excel Formula without Formatting
Sometimes you may want to copy a formula without bringing over any of the formatting, such as font or border settings. This method ensures only the formula is copied.
 Copy the formula
Select the cell with the formula, rightclick, and choose “Copy“.
 Selet the target cells where to paste the formula
Rightclick in the destination cells
 Paste the formula
Then under “Paste Options“, select “Formulas“. This ensures that only the formula, not the formatting, is pasted.
 You can also use the home tab for pasting just the formula
 Check the results
Ensure that only the formula has been pasted, and the cell formatting remains unchanged.
How to Copy a Formula in Excel without Changing References
When copying formulas, Excel automatically adjusts cell references. However, in some cases, you might want to maintain the same references in the copied formula. Here’s how.
 Copy the formula
Select the cell with the formula, press “Ctrl + C“, or rightclick and select “Copy“.
 Cancel automatic adjustments and paste the formula
Before pasting, press “Esc” to prevent Excel from adjusting the cell references. Press “Ctrl + V” to paste the formula with its references unchanged.
 Alternative: Copy a Formula Without Changing References in Edit Mode
Select the cell with the formula, press F2 to enter edit mode, highlight the formula, and press “Ctrl + C” to copy it.
 Paste into Target Cell
Select the target cell and press “Ctrl + V” to paste the formula.
 Check the Results
Ensure the formula was copied correctly with unchanged references.
How to Copy a Range of Formulas Without Changing Cell References
When working with a range of formulas in Excel, you may want to copy or move them without altering the cell references. This is especially useful when you want certain references to stay fixed while others adjust. Here’s a stepbystep guide on how to do this.
 Use Mixed Cell References for Controlled AutoFill
Mixed cell references allow you to lock either the row or the column in your formula, giving you more control over how Excel adjusts references when you copy or autofill the formula across multiple cells.

Syntax: In a mixed reference, you place a dollar sign (
$
) before the part of the reference you want to keep fixed. For example:=$C$2*E6
means column C and row 2 are fixed, while column E and row 6 are relative. As you drag the formula down or across, the reference to
$C$2
will not change, whileE6
will adjust toE7
,E8
, etc.

Use Case: If you want to apply a formula across multiple rows or columns but maintain a fixed reference to a specific cell, this is the most effective method.

 Use Mixed Cell References When Copying to a Different Range
When copying formulas to a different range of cells, you can still use mixed references to control how Excel adjusts the formula for the new location. This is particularly useful when copying formulas from one section of a worksheet to another while keeping certain parts of the reference unchanged.

Example: If you’re copying a formula like
=$C$2*$E6
to another section of your worksheet, the reference to$C$2
will stay the same, while the reference toE6
will adjust based on where you paste it. 
Tip: Make sure you lock the correct part of the reference by adding the dollar sign (
$
) only where needed. For example, if you want the column to stay fixed but not the row, use=$C2
.

 Select and Copy the Range of Formulas
Highlight the range of cells that contain the formulas. Press “Ctrl + C” to copy the selected range or rightclick and choose Copy.
 Paste the Formulas in the New Location
Once you have copied the range, you can paste the formulas into a new location in your worksheet without changing the locked references.
Select the top cell where you want to paste the copied formulas and press “Ctrl + V” to paste. The formulas will now appear in the new location, with the locked references staying the same and the relative references adjusting according to the new position.
 Verify the Results
After pasting the formulas, it’s important to check if the formulas are working as expected.
The fixed cell references (those with the $ symbol) should remain unchanged. The relative references should have adjusted correctly based on the new location of the formula.
Advanced: Copy Formulas as Text Using Notepad
If you need to move a large set of formulas without changing any references, this method works well.
 Enter Formula View Mode
Press “Ctrl + `” to toggle formula view mode in Excel. Select the cells containing the formulas you want to copy and press “CTRL+C“.
 Copy the Formulas to Notepad
Open Notepad (or any text editor), press “Ctrl + V” to paste the formulas as text. Select all the text, then press “Ctrl + C” to copy the formulas.
 Paste the Formulas Back into Excel
In Excel, select the starting cell where you want to paste the formulas, and press “Ctrl + V“.
 Exit Formula View Mode
Press “Ctrl + `” to toggle off formula view mode.
 Check the Results
Ensure the formulas were pasted correctly.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Copying Excel Formulas
What shortcut applies a formula to multiple selected cells simultaneously?
To apply the same formula to multiple selected cells in Excel simultaneously, first highlight the cells where you want the formula to be applied. Enter the desired formula in the formula bar while the cells are still selected, then press Ctrl + Enter instead of just “Enter”. This will populate all selected cells with the formula simultaneously, adjusting cell references relative to each cell’s position.
Can I copy and paste just the formula from one Excel sheet to another without formatting?
Yes, to copy only the formula from one Excel sheet to another without including formatting, first select the cell with the formula you want to copy. Use Ctrl + C to copy the formula, then switch to the other sheet and select the target cell. Rightclick the cell to bring up the context menu, select Paste Special, and choose Formulas from the options. This ensures that only the formula is pasted, excluding any cell formatting, styles, or conditional formatting.
How do I copy formulas down a column without altering their references?
To copy formulas down a column without changing their references, ensure that the references in your formula are absolute by using the dollar sign ($). For example, change a relative reference like A1 to an absolute reference like $A$1 before copying. Then, drag the fill handle down the column or doubleclick the fill handle if you have contiguous data in an adjacent column. This method prevents Excel from adjusting the cell references relative to each row.
What is the fill handle and how is it used in Excel?
The fill handle is a small, square tab at the bottomright corner of the active cell or selection in Excel. You can use it to autofill cells adjacent to the selected cell(s) with data, formulas, or even patterns. To use the fill handle, click and hold it, then drag it over the cells where you want to replicate or extend the contents of the initial cell. Once released, Excel automatically copies the content of the original cell(s) to the selected cells, adjusting formulas contextually.
How do I automatically fill formulas in Excel without dragging?
To fill formulas automatically without needing to drag through the cells, you can use a combination of copying and pasting techniques with shortcuts. First, enter your formula in the initial cell. Press Ctrl + C to copy this cell, then select the target range for the formula. Press Ctrl + V to paste, and the formula will automatically adjust according to each cell’s relative position. This is useful for large datasets where dragging the fill handle is impractical.
How can I prevent formatting from being copied along with formulas?
To copy a formula without carrying over any formatting from the source cell, first copy the cell with the formula normally using Ctrl + C. Then, rightclick the target cell or range, and choose Paste Special from the context menu. In the Paste Special dialog, select Formulas which will only paste the formula and ignore any formatting such as font size, color, borders, or fill colors that were applied to the original cell.
What does ‘Ctrl + T’ do in Excel?
Pressing Ctrl + T in Excel transforms the selected range of data into a formal Excel table. This not only visually organizes your data into a structured format but also automatically applies features such as filtering, sorting, and the use of structured references for formulas. When you enter a formula in one cell of a column inside a table, Excel can automatically replicate the formula to all other cells in that column, maintaining relative references.
How can I copy a formula to nonadjacent cells?
To copy a formula into nonadjacent cells, start by copying the formula (press Ctrl + C after selecting the cell). Then, hold down the Ctrl key and click on each cell where you want to paste the formula. Once all targeted cells are selected, press Ctrl + V to paste the copied formula into each cell. This method is particularly useful when you need to apply the same calculations to multiple, specific cells scattered throughout a worksheet.
Can Excel maintain the same cell references when copying a formula? How?
To ensure that cell references do not change when copying a formula in Excel, use absolute references in your formula by placing a dollar sign in front of the column letter and row number (e.g., $A$1). Alternatively, you can copy the formula and, before pasting, press “Esc” to cancel Excel’s automatic adjustment of references. Then, paste the formula in the new location using Ctrl + V; this pastes the formula exactly as it appears without adjusting the references.
What is a mixed cell reference in Excel?
A mixed cell reference in Excel allows one part of the reference to remain fixed while the other part changes when the formula is copied. This is achieved by using a dollar sign before either the column letter or the row number, but not both. For instance, $A1 keeps the column A constant but allows the row to change when copied down, while A$1 keeps row 1 constant but allows the column to change when copied across.
How do I copy a formula as text using Notepad to avoid reference changes?
To copy a formula without changing any references using Notepad, first switch Excel to formula view mode by pressing Ctrl + `. Then, select the cells with the formulas, copy them (Ctrl + C), and paste into Notepad to strip all formatting and Excelspecific features, leaving only the raw formulas. Copy the text from Notepad and paste it back into Excel, ideally in a range of cells where reference adjustment is not desired. This method can be particularly useful for backing up or transferring complex formula setups.
Is there a way to fill formulas across multiple cells without affecting relative cell references?
When filling formulas across multiple cells, relative references in the formula adjust based on the position they are filled to. To control this, you can convert parts of your formula to absolute references using the $ sign. Alternatively, manually adjust the formula after filling, or use the Paste Special dialog with the “Formulas” option to maintain relative positioning from the original formula.
How do I check if the formulas I copied are correct and working?
After copying and pasting formulas, it’s crucial to validate that they function correctly. Crosscheck the output values in the target cells, ensuring they compute correctly according to what you expect based on their new positions and contexts. If the results are unexpected, revisit the formula’s references and make sure they align properly with the cells’ new locations.
Can I expand a formula to an entire column with just one doubleclick?
Yes, in Excel, you can rapidly copy a formula down through an entire column filled with data by doubleclicking the fill handle when the cursor appears as a “+” sign. This copies the formula through the column up to where the adjacent column contains data, stopping at the first empty cell.
What is the advantage of entering a formula in a table in Excel?
Using tables in Excel for formulas enhances data management by automatically replicating formulas throughout a column as you enter data. Tables also provide dynamic named ranges and structured references that update automatically as the table changes, making your formulas cleaner and easier to read, especially in large worksheets.
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Last Updated on October 3, 2024 12:57 pm CEST