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Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Changes in Font Size when Copying.
Excel provides a number of ways that you can copy information from one worksheet to another. The method you use in your copying can affect what you seen when the copy operation is completed.
If you strictly do a copy/paste operation (you press Ctrl+C to copy the source, and then use Ctrl+V to paste to the target), then Excel copies everything it can in the operation: cell contents, content formatting, conditional formatting, and other particulars about the cell. In essence, the cell (and everything about the cell) is copied from the source to the target. The only thing not copied is cell height and width.
The upshot of this behavior is that pasting can have undesired effects on your target worksheet. For instance, your source worksheet may use a particular formatting scheme that is different from the formatting scheme in the target worksheet. As an example, the source may have cells formatted to use 11-point text, and the target may use 10-point text. If you copy cells from the source and then paste them into the target, the information in the pasted cells will appear larger than the text in the surrounding cells. Why? Because the larger font was copied from the source, replacing the font in the target cells.
You can affect what is copied and what isn't copied by making your selection and pressing Ctrl+C, then selecting the target cells and displaying the Paste Special dialog box (Edit | Paste Special). Use the controls at the top of the dialog box to specify exactly what should be pasted to the target cells.
For example, if you didn't want the source formatting to be placed into the target cells, all you need to do is make sure you choose the Formulas radio button in the Paste Special dialog box. This pastes the cell contents and nothing else.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2742) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Changes in Font Size when Copying.
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