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: Moving and Copying Cells.

Moving and Copying Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 3, 2012)

Moving and copying cells is a very common procedure when you are developing or editing your worksheets. Excel refers to moving by a different term, however. It is called cutting, which implies that you cut the information from one place and put it in another. Copying differs from cutting in that copying does not disturb the original cells; cutting clears them.

Whether you are cutting or copying, these operations involve the use of the Clipboard, a temporary storage area that is built into Windows. To cut or copy information, you must first select the cells you want to affect. Then do one of the following:

  • To cut cells, just press Ctrl+X; this shortcut will work in all versions of Excel. If you don't want to use the shortcut, then you could right-click the selection and choose Cut from the Context menu. You can also choose Cut from the Edit menu or click on the Cut tool on the toolbar.
  • To copy the cells, just press Ctrl+C or Ctrl+Insert.; these shortcuts should work in all versions of Excel. You can also right-click the selection and choose Copy from the Context menu. Another option is to choose Copy from the Edit menu or click on the Copy tool on the toolbar.

    Once you have done one of these, you can use the Paste or Paste Special commands to place your information elsewhere. Pasting functions the same as in other Windows programs; it places the contents of the Clipboard at the current cursor location. In the case of Excel, the information is placed in your worksheet beginning with the currently selected cell. You can paste the Clipboard contents by choosing Paste from the Edit menu, pressing Ctrl+V, right-clicking a cell and choosing Paste from the Context menu, choosing Paste from the Edit menu, or clicking the Paste tool on the toolbar.

    Within Excel there is another pasting option available. This option, called Paste Special, is rather unique. It allows you to specify how Excel should paste the information in the Clipboard. When you choose it, you will see the Paste Special dialog box. (See Figure 1.) The settings in the dialog box control which portion of the information in the Clipboard you want pasted, as well as what operations you want taken on the information being pasted.

    Figure 1. The Paste Special dialog box.

    To display the dialog box choose Paste Special from the Edit menu.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2115) 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: Moving and Copying Cells.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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