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Adjusting Formulas when Pasting

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: Adjusting Formulas when Pasting.

The Paste Special feature of Excel never ceases to be full of surprises. One way you can use the feature results in pasting formulas into cells. That may sound weird, but perhaps an example will clarify the behavior.

  1. Open a brand new workbook.
  2. Put some values in a few contiguous cells, and some simple formulas in others. You can put just a few; you won't need many. (For this example, I'll assume you put the content into the range of B3:D5.)
  3. In a different cell, separated from the range you created in step 2, put a very simple formula, such as =1.1.
  4. Select the cell you created in step 3 and press Ctrl+C. This copies the cell contents to the Clipboard.
  5. Select the range you set up in step 2 (B3:D5).
  6. Choose Paste Special from the Edit menu. Excel displays the Paste Special dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  7. Figure 1. The Paste Special dialog box.

  8. Make sure the Formulas radio button is selected.
  9. Make sure the Multiply radio button is selected.
  10. Click OK. The cells are updated.

Take a look at how the target cells were updated. The formula from the source cell (step 4) was pasted into any formulas in the target range. If a cell in the target range contained a value instead of a formula, the value was converted to a formula and the source formula appended to it.

This can be a great way to use Paste Special when you want to maintain a trail of how you've modified the cells in a range.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3328) 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: Adjusting Formulas when Pasting.

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