Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Moving and Copying Cells.

Moving and Copying Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 25, 2021)


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 display the Home tab of the ribbon and click Cut in the Clipboard group.
  • 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. You can also display the Home tab of the ribbon and click Copy in the Clipboard group.

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 pressing Ctrl+V, right-clicking a cell and choosing Paste from the Context menu, or by clicking the Paste tool on the Home tab of the ribbon.

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. 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. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Paste Special dialog box.

To display the dialog box, display the Home tab of the ribbon, click the down-arrow under the Paste tool, then choose Paste Special.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7362) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel 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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What is nine more than 9?

2021-02-25 14:20:52

David Gray

Please be aware that the minute you perform ANY operation other than a paste operation, Microsoft Excel EMPTIES the clipboard.

2021-02-25 08:20:51


Also worth noting that the toolbar can be set up to put most of the paste special options as buttons to use directly.

2016-12-28 07:03:37


Ctrl+Alt+V is very useful as it brings up the Paste Special menu.

2016-12-26 05:45:58

Aelx B

Michael - cutting and copying are 'intended' to give different results and do different things.
If in c3 you have =b3 and you cut and paste c3 to d3 it will continue to say =b3.
If in you copy c3 to d3 it will change to =c3 (the relativity of the formula will stay the same ie in this case same row 1 column to the left.)


The example you gave doesn't really leave very much and you may as well do a full copy paste.
For other combinations you can access the various paste button options using the mouse (either off the home>paste, right click, or the drop down after you paste to the target cell) There are buttons for paste formulas or values with number format, formulas or values with source formatting.
Column width requires the whole column to be selected for copying (unless you use the paste special dialogue box).
You put the buttons you use regularly on the quick access toolbar.
I have put paste values with number format on the QAT as this overcomes the issue of copying dates and not having them show up in the new location as dates.

2016-12-24 21:16:08


With the "Paste Special" capability, is there any way to accomplish multiple functions simultaneously? Or must I accomplish them one at a time? For example, when executing a single "Paste Special," can I simultaneously choose "Formulas," "Formats," and "Column widths" and have all three executed with a single "Paste Special?"

2016-12-24 12:17:09

MIchael Armstrong

If the cell involved contains references to other cells, copying and cutting produce different results in the target cell. I admit to being only vaguely aware of what (or why) the difference is, but often have to copy and delete, rather than cut and paste, to get the result I want.

2016-12-24 07:37:02


Allen, HELP!
This is not your offering but I had to ask. I don't know what's happened to my contacts in Outlook 2007. The last three new entries are not available by a search. I can flag them and sort by flags, but . . . maybe your readers??
In any case, thanks for the very useful tips for Word and Excel, both of which I use daily after retiring from 49 years of teaching math (and 1 of Photoshop).

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