Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Automatically Copying Formatting.

Automatically Copying Formatting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 26, 2017)

6

One of the foundational features of Excel is to allow one cell to be equal to another cell. For instance, you could use the most simple of formulas in a cell:

=C7

This copies the contents from cell C7 to the current cell, and updates whenever the contents of cell C7 change. What if you are not just interested in copying cell values, but also want to copy formatting from one cell to another?

Unfortunately, there is no intrinsic way to do this in Excel. There are two workarounds you can try, however. First, you can create a macro that will find out whenever cell C7 changes, and if it does, the macro copies the contents of the cell (including formatting) to the target cell. For instance, the following macro will run every time there are changes in the worksheet. When the change is in cell C7, then the contents of C7 are copied to cell E3 on Sheet1.

Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Excel.Range)
    If Not Intersect(Target, Range("C7")) Is Nothing Then
        Range("C7").Copy (Worksheets("Sheet1").Range("E3"))
    End If
End Sub

There are some downsides to this approach. First, it can be slow, particularly if you have quite a few cells that you want to copy in this manner. In addition, the macro only runs if the contents of cell C7 are actually changed, not if the formatting alone of C7 is changed. (There is no way to trigger an automatic event whenever formatting is changed.)

An alternative to the macro approach is to use the Camera tool in Excel. This has been covered in other issues of ExcelTips, but essentially the camera is a way to copy a dynamic image of a range of cells from one place to another. It is the image of the source cells that is shown, and it is shown as a graphic, not as the contents of any target cells. Since the graphic is dynamic, whenever the source cells are changed (including formatting), the image is also updated to reflect the change.

To use the Camera tool, you must customize the Quick Access Toolbar so that the tool is available; it is not available by default. When you are doing your customizing, the Camera tool is easiest to find if you choose to display all commands. The Camera tool has a small camera icon next to it.

With the Camera tool in place, follow these steps to use it:

  1. Select the cells or range of which you want a picture taken.
  2. Click on the Camera tool. The mouse pointer changes to a large plus sign.
  3. Change to a different worksheet.
  4. Click where you want the top left-hand corner of the picture to appear. The picture is inserted as a graphic on the worksheet.

Finally, you could also use conditional formatting on the cells. For instance, if you use conditional formatting to format cell C7 and you place the formula =C7 into cell T45, then you could apply the same conditional format to cell T45 that you used with cell C7. That way, whenever the value in T45 changes (which it will do if the value in C7 changes), then the formatting in T45 changes to match the formatting in cell C7. The only downside to this is that if you change the conditional formatting in one of the cells you'll need remember to change it in the other.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8450) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Automatically Copying Formatting.

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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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. 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 nine minus 5?

2017-01-09 14:09:16

Sam Packwood

Thank you for this tip and this website. However, I noticed that you seem to be missing a trick when you mention the conditional formatting: "you could apply the same conditional format to cell T45 that you used with cell C7. [...But] if you change the conditional formatting in one of the cells you'll need remember to change it in the other."

In fact, at least in Excel 2010, conditional formatting can be applied to non-contiguous fields, either by highlighting both areas at the same time when creating the rule, or changing it in "Manage Rules" later. That way, with one rule for "=C7,T45" instead of one for "=C7" and another for "=T45", you'll never run into the problem of changing one and forgetting to change the other!


2016-12-22 02:32:44

Ronnie Gagnon

I am trying to duplicate new spreadsheets for my budget. I need help in copying a sheet not only with the information as is but also with row height and width and wrap text formatting. I do not find a "camera" icon to take the picture. Under "copy" there is the option to copy as a picture but when I paste to the new sheet I got double gird lines, the ones on the new sheet and the ones in the picture of the original sheet. HELP! I have OS MS 2016. I have an Acer.


2016-07-02 12:48:38

Morton Wakeland

This may be incorrect, but for your first solution, i.e., the VBA code, I suggest you let the novices know, that the code has to be "inserted" at the worksheet level. Many "newbies" may not be aware of this, or maybe it is me, who is out in "left field" - smile.
I like the first solution for you don't have to enter formulas in each cell on the destination sheet, which the potential user may mess up and enter something in a cell containing a formula.


2016-05-19 10:26:21

Richard Battista

Have the Excel developers ever considered adding a formula, ... maybe it could be called "Equal" with a format something like this:
EQUAL(cell-address,x,y,z) ... with x, y, and z being Value, Format, and something else. With that, if I want Cell B to equal Cell A, both in Value & Format I could simply insert in Cell B "=EQUAL(cell-A-address,Value,Format)". That would make Cell B equal to Cell A in both Value & Format. Seems to me that this would be a simple thing to do.
Thanks,
Dick Battista


2016-03-25 16:35:03

Nick

I get runtime error 424 Object required when running this. Are you referencing any particular object?
Running office 2013 x64


2015-08-03 21:01:00

Corey E. Cook

I am entering data i.e. budget. I would like know if its possible to enter all the transactions and then have them automatically copied to other tables depending on the value?


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