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.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 26, 2017)
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:
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:
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.
Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!
Merging cells is a common task when creating worksheets. Merged cells can play havoc with the normal functioning of some ...Discover More
Excel allows you to perform math using times as operands. If you subtract a later time from an earlier time, you should ...Discover More
If you need to change the color with which a particular cell is filled, the easier method is to use the Fill Color tool, ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.