5 Different Ways to Copy Or Move a Formula In Excel

If you’ve ever tried to copy and paste a formula in Excel, you may have encountered the frustrating issue of the cell references changing. This can happen when you paste the formula into a different cell or range, causing the formula to reference the wrong cells and give you incorrect results.

There are several ways to avoid this problem and ensure that your formulas always reference the correct cells. Here are five methods you can use:

Method 1: Use the Traditional Copy and Paste Method

You may think of copying a formula as we do for everything else using (CTRL+C) and (CTRL+V), but this can go wrong because the cell references will change. For example, if our formula references cells B2 to B21, the references will change to C2 to C21 when we paste the formula into the next cell. In this case, you can double-click on the cell to bring on the formula and copy it.

If you want to copy directly in the traditional method, you will need to fix the reference. Follow the below steps to do so:

  1. Select the cell that contains the formula you want to copy.
  2. Double-click the cell or press F2 on your keyboard to edit the formula.
  3. Select the first column letter to fix the column reference, and press F4 on your keyboard. Repeat it for the other column reference. This will lock the column references.
  4. Press Enter to apply the changes to the formula.
  5. Done! Now select the cell and press Ctrl +C and Ctrl + V to paste it correctly.

Method 2: Copy or Move by Dragging the Formula

Another method for copying formulas is to use the fill You can apply the same formula to other cells. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Write the formula for one column. For example, we want to use the SUM function to find the total of the Branch 1 column.
  2. Place your mouse cursor over the formula cell and drag it through the other cells where you want to paste it. Release the mouse button to paste the formula in each of the selected cells.

The benefit of using this method is that it will automatically adjust cell references if you are copying the formula to a different range. You can use this technique on both columns and rows.

Method 3: Use the Absolute Reference for a Specific Cell

Let’s say you want to subtract the gained amount from the target amount in different cells. Now, if you use relative reference, the formula will change accordingly but if you use absolute reference even when you copy it to other cells, the cell address for a particular value remains unchanged.

  1. To write an absolute reference of a cell, just add a dollar sign ‘$’ before the column and row number of that cell. For example: In the formula =B2-E2, if you want E2 to remain constant and B2 to change accordingly when copying the formula, write it as =B2-$E$2 (selecting E2 and pressing F4 will also do the same.)
  2. Now drag the formula to other cells, the value of A1 will remain constant, but B1 will change according to its location.

Method 4: Moving a Formula

There is another way to move a formula without changing the cell references. This is done by using the mouse cursor to move it. Here are the steps:

  1. First, select the formula(s) you want to move. Now you will see that the cell boxes turned green.
  2. Click on the green box around the selected cells and drag it to the desired position.
  3. When you release the mouse button, your formula will be moved without changing any of its references.

Method 5: Use Find and Replace to Copy or Move Formula

Here is a bonus tip! You can also use the Find and Replace tool to copy or move your formula from one cell to another by following these steps:

  1. Open an Excel spreadsheet and locate the formula you wish to copy or move. Select the cell containing the formula.
  2. Use the Find and Replace function to find the formula. To do this, press “Ctrl+H,” enter “=” in the “Find What” field, and enter “xxxx” in the “Replace With” field.
  3. Click “Replace All”, and the formula will be replaced by xxxx in all cells containing the formulas, and you will see the remaining part of the formula.
  4. Now copy or move this to the location where you want to paste it and replace the “xxxx” with = again.

This way, you can easily move or copy a formula without altering its structure.


Whether you want to move a formula from one cell to another or copy it, these simple methods are perfect for better managing your data in Excel. Try out different combinations of these methods and find the most suitable solution for your problem. We hope these methods for copying and moving formulas were helpful and saved you some time.