Learn how to move, copy and paste information in Excel. Once you have mastered Cut, Copy and Paste you will find yourself shifting data around easily and reusing copied data, saving you the need to recreate the same information again.
All Windows applications have access to the Windows Clipboard. This is a special area used for moving and copying information.
The ‘Cut’ command moves a selection to the Clipboard while the ‘Copy’ command copies a selection to the Clipboard.
Once the selection is on the Clipboard you can place it either in a new place in the worksheet, in a different worksheet or even in a different file, using the ‘Paste’ command.
Tip: to view the content of the Clipboard, on the Home tab click the dialog launcher (small arrow in the bottom right corner of the group) on the Clipboard group.
Move or copy data to a new location
The Paste command places a copy of the contents of the Clipboard at the point of the cell selector. Excel offers the ability to preview how your data will look before you paste it.
To move or copy the contents of a cell or group of cells to another position, do the following.
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1. Select the cell or range of cells to be moved and then do one of the following:
- On the Home tab in the Clipboard group select Cut or Copy
- Press the keyboard shortcut for move CTRL + X, press CTRL + C to copy
- Right-click the selection and then select Cut or Copy from the shortcut menu
2. A marquee (“marching ants”) will be placed around the selected range. Move to where you want to paste the data and select the cell that will hold the top-left cell of the of the data you are about to paste. Do one of the following:
- Press ENTER
- Right-click and then select Paste from the shortcut menu.
- Right-click and then select Insert Cut or Copied cells from the shortcut menu
3. The data will now be moved or copied to the destination area. If required use the Paste Options button at the bottom right corner of your pasted data to select the Paste option you require.
Hint: use Keep Source Column Widths to paste without the column widths adjusting. Keyboard shortcut = Ctrl, W.
Tips: before you click Paste move the mouse pointer over each of the paste options to see which will best suit your requirements. Excel will show you how the data will look before you even click Paste. If you can still see the ‘marching ants’ press the ESC key on your keyboard.
Moving and copying using the mouse pointer
Excel allows you to click and drag a selected range and drop it in a new location on the worksheet.
This is called Drag-and-drop. Drag-and-drop may be used as an alternative to using the Cut or Copy commands.
1. To move a range using drag and drop, firstly select the range.
2. Move the mouse pointer over the selection outline. The mouse pointer will change to a display directional arrows.
3. Click and drag the selection to the required location and then release the mouse button to drop it.
Tip: to copy a range use the CTRL key while using drag-and-drop.
Copying calculations using the fill handle
Clicking and dragging the Fill handle is the quickest and easiest way to copy formula to adjacent cells.
To do this:
- Select the cell that contains the formula.
- Place the mouse pointer on the black dot on the bottom right of the selected cell. The mouse pointer will change to a black cross.
- Click and drag the cross across or down adjacent cells. The formula will be copied to the selected cells.
Tip: to quickly fill to the same distance as an adjacent column try double-clicking the Fill handle. Excel checks the adjacent column and copies down the same distance as to the last cell in the adjacent column.
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