Cut, Copy, Paste and Paste Special

Using the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands in Microsoft Excel, you can move or copy entire cells or their contents. Using the Paste Special menu you can and paste specific content or attributes from the cells. For example, you can copy a formula and paste only the value of the formula into another cell, or you could copy a cell or range and paste only the formatting onto another cell or range of cells. You can also use the Paste Special menu to transpose values or formulas or to even add, subtract, multiply and divide.

Using the Copy function will keep the cell you are copying intact and will allow you to create a copy of the formula or value stored in the cell. On the other hand, the Cut function will move the entire contents of the cells to the cell the contents are pasted in.

Tip: If there is a formula already referencing the cell that you Cut, and you move it to another location, the formula referencing the cell will automatically be updated to the new cell reference.

To Copy use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C

To Cut use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + X

To Paste use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V

Tip: Be aware that, if you copy a formula, the default Paste method of Ctrl + V will paste the formula into the cell you select. To convert a formula to a value when pasting, you have to use the Paste Special function.

Cell References: If you are unfamiliar with absolute and relative cell references in Excel and how they affect copying and pasting formulas, I suggest visiting the Types of Excel Cell References section of this website.

Accessing the Paste Special menu:

The first step is to copy a cell or a range. You will know that the cell is being copied because after you press Ctrl + C to copy, the cell will be surrounded by a flashing dashed line.

Next, in Excel 2007, on the Home Tab in the Ribbon, select the drop down arrow underneath paste on the left side of the Ribbon. See graphic below.

Excel Copy Paste Example


Paste Special Menu:

Excel Paste Special Menu

All: This will paste all of the cells attributes

Formulas: This will paste formulas without formatting

Values: This will convert any formulas into values. If the cell was result was a number it will remain in the format and if the cell result was text the pasted format will be text.

Formats: This will paste only the format of the cell. For example, if you copy a cell that is bold and has a blue background and paste formats, the cell contents will not be pasted, but only the bold and blue background attributes.

Comments: If you have a comment entered into a cell this function will only paste the comment and none of the cell contents or attributes.

Validation: If you have any data validation criteria applied to the cell this will paste only those criteria to the cell of your choosing.

The Operation Menu above can be used to perform calculation by pasting. For example, if you copy a cell containing a value of 100 and paste choosing the divide operator, the cell that you are pasting to will be divided by 100. If you try to paste and divide a cell that is a formula, the formula will be altered to divide the results by 100.

The Transpose function is also useful from converting rows into columns and columns into rows. The Transpose function can be combined with the Paste function such as Values or Formulas.

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