Excel Copy And Paste

Simple Excel Copy and Paste

The most simple Excel copy & paste is done by the following steps:

  • Select an Excel cell, or range of cells
  • Copy the cell(s) by either:
  • Selecting 'Copy' from the menu which appears on the right mouse click
  • Selecting 'Copy' from the home tab (or the Edit menu in older versions of Excel)
  • Using the keyboard shortcut, CTRL-C (i.e. select the CTRL key and while holding this down, press C)
  • Click on the location where you want to paste the copied cell(s)
  • Paste the copied cell(s) by either:
  • Selecting 'Paste' from the menu which appears on the right mouse click
  • Selecting 'Paste' from the home tab (or the Edit menu in older versions of Excel)
  • Using the keyboard shortcut, CTRL-V (i.e. select the CTRL key and while holding this down, press V)

Note that there are a few Excel copy and paste rules that you should be aware of:

Paste Special

Normally when you perform an Excel copy and paste, all information from the copied cells is pasted into the new cells. This includes any formulas or other cell contents, and the cell formatting.

However, sometimes you might want to only paste one part of the original copied cells, (for example, you might want to paste the values but not the formatting) into the new range. You can do this using the Excel 'Paste Special' command, which is found in the menu that appears when you right click the mouse.

The 'Paste Special' command can also be accessed from the home tab of recent versions of Excel (or the Edit menu Excel 2003).

In recent versions of Excel (Excel 2010 or Excel 2013), the right click menu and the 'Paste' menu contain 'Paste Special' shortcuts. Examples of these are shown below:

Examples of Paste Special Shortcuts:

Examples of Paste Special Shortcuts

Paste Special Values Example

A simple paste special example is shown in the two images below.

The first image shows the set of cells A1-A15, which have specific formatting and contain data values. If we want to copy the values, but not the formatting of cells A1-A15, into cells B1-B15, we would first select and copy cells A1-A15, then select cell B1 (or cells B1-B15) and click on 'Paste Special'. You will then be presented with the 'Paste Special' options box (also shown in the left image below). Select the option Values from this box and click OK.

The image on the right below shows the result of the Paste Special - Note that the values from cells A1-A15 have been copied into cells B1-B15, but the formatting has not been copied across.

Excel Paste Special Values Example
Paste Special Options Paste Special Values Result

Of course, if you have Excel 2010 or Excel 2013, you wouldn't need to enter the full 'Paste Special' menu as you can paste values only by using the Paste Special Values shortcut, Paste Special Values Shortcut.

Paste Special Transpose

You can see, from the left image in the above example, that the Values option is just one of several options linked to the Excel Paste Special command.

As well as pasting selected attributes of the copied cells, the Paste Special command can be used to perform simple transformations. One example is the transpose option which, in the example below, has been used to copy cells A1 - A6, and paste these into the cell range C1 - H1.

Excel Paste Special Transpose Example
Before Paste Special Transpose Paste Special Transpose Result

Use Paste Special to Perform Arithmetic Operations

The Paste Special command can also be used to perform a simple arithmetic operation on the contents of the target cells. The values in the copied cells are added to, subtracted from, multiplied by or used to divide the target cells. An example of this is shown below. In the example, column A and Column B both contain numerical values and the Paste Special command is used to subtract the values in column A from the values in column B. This is done by copying column A, clicking on column B, and then selecting 'Paste Special', with the 'Subtract' option.

Excel Paste Special Subtract Example
Before Paste Special Subtract Paste Special Subtract Result

Note that, in the above example, instead of subtracting every cell of column A from column B, we could have subtracted a single cell of column A from every cell of column B. To do this, simply copy a single cell to start with, instead of a range of cells. Then, as in the example above, click on column B and select the Paste Special→Subtract option.

Copy Using CTRL-D

Another convenient way to copy the values from one (or more) cells into the cells below is to use CTRL-D (ie. press the CTRL key and while this is pressed down, press D). There are two ways in which this option works :

  1. if you select one or more cells in a single row and press CTRL-D, the contents from the row above the selected row are copied into the selected row.
  2. if you select cells in more than one row and press CTRL-D, the contents from the cells in the top row of the selected range are copied down to all the other rows in the selected range.

Copy a Worksheet

Finally, it is worth mentioning how to duplicate a worksheet in Excel. To do this :

Return to the Basic Excel Page

Return to the ExcelFunctions.net Home Page