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: Exact Formula Copies.

Exact Formula Copies

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 28, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Many formulas in a worksheet don't occur in solitude—they often appear numerous times in a worksheet. For instance, you may copy a formula into a range of cells in a column, each formula operating on data on its own row.

When you copy formulas, Excel automatically adjusts any relative cell references in the formula so that they remain relative in the target cell. For instance, if a formula in cell C4 is =A4+B4, then copying the formula down to cell C5 results in the formula =A5+B5.

There may be times when you want to create an exact copy of a formula, without Excel adjusting the relative cell references during the copy process. Assuming you want to make an exact copy of the formula in cell C4 and copy it to C5, follow these steps:

  1. Select cell C4.
  2. Press F2. Excel enters Edit mode, with the insertion point at the end of the formula.
  3. Press Shift+Ctrl+Home. Excel selects everything in the cell, back to the beginning of the formula.
  4. Press Ctrl+C to copy the selected text (the formula's text) to the Clipboard.
  5. Press Enter to move to cell C5.
  6. Press Ctrl+V to paste the Clipboard contents into the cell.

During this paste process, the relative cell references are not updated—the formula in cell C5 is now an exact duplicate of the one in cell C4.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2990) 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: Exact Formula Copies.

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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