Using the Fill Handle to Copy Formulas in Excel

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Using the Fill Handle

A quick way to copy a formula from one cell to adjacent cells in Excel is to use the Fill Handle, which is the small square located in the bottom right corner of the active cell that contains the formula you want to copy.

Using the Fill Handle in Excel

Rather than entering the same formula over and over in adjacent cells, you can enter it once and use the fill handle to apply it to other cells.

  1. Click on a cell that contains the formula you want to copy to adjacent cells to make it the active cell.
  2. Click the bottom right corner of the active cell where the fill handle is located. Hold and drag the fill handle until you have selected all the cells you want to fill with the formula.
  3. When you release the fill handle, the fields populate if data has been entered and a plus icon for Auto Fill Options appears beneath the last cell. 
  4. Click on the icon and select Fill without Formatting to avoid changing any previous formatting on your spreadsheet.

A Preventable Problem With Using the Fill Handle

In addition to copying formulas and data, the fill handle also copies formatting. This means that it can interfere with existing formats when used on previously formatted cells. A common example of this is overwriting shading that has been applied to alternate rows in a worksheet.

To prevent the Fill Handle from overwriting existing formatting, it is best to select Fill without Formatting whenever you use the fill handle.

Other Options for Copying a Formula

Use the keyboard shortcut, Control + D to fill the formula down in a column. To do this, select the active cell with the formula and then select the cells beneath it. Press Control+D to copy the formula to the column of cells you selected.

You can do the same thing for cells in a row. Select the active cell with the formula, select the cells to the right of it where you want to copy the formula and press Control+R to copy the formula to the row of cells you selected.

 

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Your Citation
French, Ted. "Using the Fill Handle to Copy Formulas in Excel." ThoughtCo, Aug. 1, 2017, thoughtco.com/fill-handle-copy-formulas-in-excel-3123624. French, Ted. (2017, August 1). Using the Fill Handle to Copy Formulas in Excel. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/fill-handle-copy-formulas-in-excel-3123624 French, Ted. "Using the Fill Handle to Copy Formulas in Excel." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/fill-handle-copy-formulas-in-excel-3123624 (accessed January 20, 2018).