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How to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel (3 Easy Ways)

October 16, 2023 1.1K views

Excel is a powerful tool for working with numbers, but dealing with complex formulas and big spreadsheets can be a hassle. For example, if you have a formula you want to use multiple times, copying it down a column can save time and prevent mistakes.

However, many people don't know the best ways to quickly apply the formula on complete column.

So, how do you quickly copy a formula down a column in Excel or apply a relative reference to whole column by dragging the formula?

In this article, we will delve into the solution, offering not just one but three easy methods to copy formulas down a column effortlessly. These methods cater to different preferences and expertise levels, equipping you with valuable skills to streamline your work in Excel.

Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Copying formulas in Excel is typically a straightforward task and you can do it with a simple mouse click. However, certain situations call for unique methods, such as copying a group of formulas while maintaining cell references or applying the same formula to multiple cells that aren't next to each other.

Copying formulas down a column in Excel can be a real-time-saver, especially when dealing with repetitive calculations.

In this tutorial, we'll explore three different methods to copy a formula down a column in Excel.

Method 1. Using Fill Handle to Copy a Formula Down in a Column

The Fill Handle in Excel is a handy tool as it simplifies the process of copying formulas effortlessly. Here's how to put it to use:

Step 1: Enter your formula in the first cell of the column from where you want to copy it down.

Image: Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Step 2: Hover your cursor over the small square at the bottom right corner of the cell until it turns into a black “+” sign cursor.

Image: Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Step 3: Click and hold the left mouse button, then drag the cursor down to the last cell where you want the formula copied.

Step 4: Release the mouse button, and Excel will automatically copy the formula down the selected column.

Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Method 2. Using Copy and Paste

What if you need to duplicate the formula without carrying over the formatting? Or perhaps you want to extend the copy beyond your current data range? In such scenarios requiring flexibility in copying, the reliable copy-and-paste method comes to the rescue.

Here's how you can go about it:

Step 1: Begin by setting up your formula in the uppermost cell.

Step 2: Press Control + C or utilise the "Copy" button on the "Home" ribbon.

Image: Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Step 3: Proceed to select all the cells where you intend to replicate the formula. You can achieve this by dragging the mouse or using convenient keyboard shortcuts.

Step 4: Employ either Control + V or click the "Paste" button on the "Home" ribbon.

Step 5: For additional paste choices, simply click the arrow located beneath the "Paste" button.

Method 3. Using Shortcut

Keyboard shortcuts can be a real-time-saver. Here's how to copy a formula down a column using shortcuts:

Step 1: Enter your formula in the first cell of the column.

Step 2: Press and hold "Shift" on your keyboard. It will keep the cell selected while performing the next operation.

Step 3: Press "Shift + Down Arrow" to navigate to the last cell where you want to copy the formula.

Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Step 4: Press "Ctrl + D" to confirm the formula entry. Excel will copy the formula down the column.

Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Methods to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

Bonus Tips and Tricks for Copying Formulas in Excel

Here are some extra tips and tricks to enhance your efficiency when working with formulas in Excel:

  1. If you want to quickly duplicate the formula or values in the cell directly above your desired cell in the column then press “CTRL + D. '' With this shorcut Excel will quickly duplicate the formula or the values in the upper cell.

  2. Use fixed references for numbers that don't change and normal references for numbers that can change. This helps when copying formulas.

  3. Always check your formula after copying to see if it's right.

  4. If you want to copy only the number or look of a cell, not the formula itself, use "Paste Special".

  5. Before copying a lot of data, save a copy of your work so you can keep everything safe.

  6. To quickly copy a formula to other cells, click on the formula cell, and drag the small box at the corner to other cells.

  7. For a quick way to move a formula in numerous cells, use the "Fill Handle" tool. Just click on the cell containing the formula, hover over its lower right corner until a small plus sign appears, and then drag it across the range you want.

Watch out for Order of Operations While Copying Formulas Down a Column

Having clarity about the sequence of operations in Excel is important. When a formula has several mathematical operations, Excel follows a set order: parentheses first, followed by exponentiation, multiplication and division, and finally, addition and subtraction. Use brackets to make sure your math is done in the right order.

For added knowledge, here’s how Excel performs its sequence of calculations.

You can easily remember the order of operations by the acronym PEMDAS.

  • Parentheses: Operations enclosed in parentheses are performed first in Excel.

  • Exponents: If any exponents are involved, then Excel will perform those functions.

  • Multiplication and Division: Excel performs multiplication and division from left to right.

  • Addition and Subtraction: These are also performed from left to right.

This will help you manage your formulas in a better manner.

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FAQs

Why is a double click to copy formula not working in Excel?

If you're trying to double-click to copy a formula in Excel and it's not working, there could be a few reasons for this. Here are some common reasons and their solutions:

  1. Cell Format: If the cell containing the formula is formatted differently from adjacent cells (e.g., as text), Excel might not copy the formula as expected. Ensure the format is consistent.

  2. Fill Handle: Double-clicking to copy a formula works with the fill handle (the small square at the bottom right corner of the selected cell). Ensure you're double-clicking this specific handle.

  3. Adjacent Data: The double-click action with the fill handle typically copies the formula to the last cell adjacent to data in a neighboring column. The action may not work as you expect if there's no data in the adjacent column.

  4. Locked Cells: If cells are locked (protected) in a worksheet, you might not be able to copy formulas using the double-click method.

Why is my table formula not copying down in Excel?

This can be due to the formatting that you have applied across the cells

This situation arises because the number formatting isn't simultaneously applied to all cells within the column. If you initially format one cell and then later format the rest of the column's cells, the Table will only consider it the universal formatting for some columns. Consequently, the uniform formatting isn't extended to new rows when copying the formula.

Ensure that the number formatting is uniformly applied to all column cells simultaneously.

However, if your Table involves multiple columns, the process of applying formatting can become time-consuming. To simplify this, there is a simple method to streamline the procedure.

Shortcut to Select Entire Table Columns

The method is quite straightforward and involves just two steps.

  1. Select all cells within the column.

  2. Apply the number formatting again.

To select all column cells using the mouse:

  1. Hover your cursor over the top half of the header cell until it transforms into a downward arrow.

  2. Click once to select all cells in the data body range.

Or, you can use the Ctrl+Space keyboard shortcut to select a Table column swiftly.

Once you've selected the cells, implement the number formatting across the entire column. This action establishes the number formatting for the entire column, ensuring that any new rows introduced will automatically adopt the number format of the column.

Summary

This guide has three simple methods to help you with your formula. Learn to use the Fill Handle, try the copy-and-paste method, and discover keyboard shortcuts. The article offers keen insights on how to use certain techniques to improve Excel productivity and up your number crunching game. You can use drag and hold and keyboard commands to copy formulas across the columns.

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15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.