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How to Copy a Formula in Excel

Learning how to copy a formula in Excel can be a time-saver, especially when working with vast data sets. It’s one of the basic Excel skills that you need to master to work efficiently. This guide will walk you through step by step, showing you how to do just that, with real-life examples.

What You Need to Know About Excel Formulas

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand what Excel formulas are. They are equations that perform calculations on the values in your spreadsheet. They are the powerhouse of Excel, enabling you to perform everything from basic arithmetic to complex statistical analysis. Now, let’s understand how to copy a formula in Excel.

Step 1: Create a Basic Formula

To start, you need to have a formula to copy. Let’s say we want to add two numbers. In an empty cell (let’s use cell B1 for our example), type =A1+A2 and press Enter. The result of this formula is the sum of the values in cells A1 and A2.

Step 2: Copy the Formula 

To copy the formula, click on the cell containing the formula (B1 in our case) to select it. Then, either press Ctrl+C on your keyboard or right-click on the cell and select Copy from the context menu.

Step 3: Paste the Formula

Click on the cell where you want to paste the copied formula. Press Ctrl+V or right-click the cell and choose Paste from the context menu. You’ll see that the formula is now in the new cell, but it references the cells relative to its new position.

For example, if you paste the formula from cell B1 to B2, it changes from =A1+A2 to =A2+A3. This is called relative referencing, and it’s one of Excel’s most powerful features.

Understanding Absolute and Relative Referencing

As you’ve seen in the above example, when copying formulas in Excel, cell references are adjusted based on their new position. This is called relative referencing.

If you want the formula to always refer to the same cells, regardless of where you copy it, you’ll need to use absolute referencing. To do this, you add a dollar sign ($) before the column letter, the row number, or both in the formula.

For example, if you change =A1+A2 to =$A$1+$A$2 and then copy and paste this formula, it will always refer to cells A1 and A2, no matter where you paste it.

You can find more about referencing here.

How to Copy a Formula Down a Column in Excel

If you have a long list of data and need to copy a formula down a column, there’s a quicker way. After you’ve created the formula in the first cell, move your cursor to the lower right corner of that cell until it changes to a black cross. This is the fill handle. Click and drag it down the column to copy the formula to the other cells.


Learning how to copy a formula in Excel is crucial for efficient data processing. Whether you’re using relative or absolute referencing, Excel offers the tools to make copying and pasting formulas quick and easy. Master these skills to save time and work more productively in Excel.

The next time you’re stuck copying a formula manually, remember these tips. And if you want more Excel hacks, subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates!

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! If you’re grappling with a tricky Excel problem, don’t hesitate to visit our website, ExcelAdvisers.com, and send us your request. We’re more than happy to lend a hand where our AI friends might fall short. Together, we can conquer those spreadsheets and turn them into powerful tools for your business. So, let’s embark on this journey of mastering Excel together.