Ctrl+V Pasting is Flakey

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 21, 2019)

When I am working in Excel, I copy and paste information quite a bit. I copy things using Ctrl+C, and then paste them using Ctrl+V. Sometimes, however, Ctrl+V does not exhibit the expected behavior. For instance, when I copy a cell that contains a formula, and then paste the formula into a cell in a different workbook, I expect Excel to paste the formula. Sometimes Ctrl+V results in just the result of the formula being pasted, the same as if I chose Values from the Paste Special dialog box.

It appears that this behavior is closely related to how the Excel workbooks are opened. If I open two workbooks in the same instance of Excel, I can copy and paste formulas from one workbook to another with no problem. If, however, I open two workbooks in different instances of Excel, then Ctrl+V results in values being pasted from one workbook to the other, rather than formulas.

The easiest way to check whether your workbooks are open in different instances of Excel is to take a look at the Window menu. If you click the Window menu in Excel, you should be able to see all your open workbooks at the bottom of the menu. If you cannot, then you know that the workbook (or workbooks) missing from the menu are open in a different instance of Excel.

If you want to paste formulas from one workbook to another, the solution is to close one of the workbooks and then reopen it within the other instance of Excel. In other words, open it by using the Open tool or by choosing File | Open.

On a related note, if you want to know exactly how your pasting will occur (rather than leaving it up to Excel), you should use Edit | Paste Special. Remember, however, that if you try to copy formulas from one instance of Excel to another, you get a very different set of options in the Paste Special dialog box than you get if you are copying within the same instance of Excel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2362) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Creating Selections

Want a really easy way to create a selection of a group of cells? Discover how to use the Extend key to make this task ...

Discover More

Copying and Pasting without Affecting the Clipboard

Just about everyone knows the simple ways of copying and pasting using the Clipboard. What if you want to copy and paste, ...

Discover More

Editing Individual Cells

Need to edit the data within a cell? There are any number of ways you can perform the edit; this tip documents them all.

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Adjusting a Range's Starting Point

Select a range of cells, and one of those cells will always be the starting point for the range. This tip explains how to ...

Discover More

Inserting Rows

Need to insert rows in your worksheet? Excel provides a few techniques you can use to do this. Here are some ideas you ...

Discover More

Zooming In On Your Worksheet

If you have trouble seeing the information presented in a worksheet, you can use Excel's zooming capabilities to ease the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.