Controlling the Automatic Copying of Formulas

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 11, 2021)


Jos has a worksheet that contains data in the first few columns of every row and the following columns are formulas. When he adds a row by entering data in the first few columns, sometimes the formulas are automatically copied to the new row, sometimes not, and sometimes only some of the formulas are copied. Jos wonders if there is a way to control which formulas will be copied.

This automatic copying of formulas that Jos has noticed is controlled, in Excel, from the Advanced area of the Excel Options dialog box. Follow these two steps to display the proper part of the dialog box:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box click Advanced. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Excel Options dialog box.

The option ("Extend Data Range Formats and Formulas"), under the Editing Options heading, is the checkbox that controls the behavior. By default, this option is on. As you might guess, this setting provides an on/off, binary choice as to whether formula copying occurs. If you don't want it to occur, then clear the checkbox.

If, however, you are looking for a way to control, by column, which formulas are copied, there is no way in Excel to do that; it is either all or nothing—with a caveat. The caveat is that Excel needs to be able to figure out what it should copy to the new row. If the "Extend Data Range Formats and Formulas" option is turned on and Excel can figure out what to copy, it will do so. If it cannot figure it out, then it won't copy. While this can make Excel seem rather erratic or capricious at times, it does make sense that Excel can only do whatever it is that it can figure out to do.

One way to make the formula copying more consistent is to make sure that your data is declared as a formal table. You can do this by selecting a cell inside your data and then pressing Ctrl+L. Excel applies some formatting to the table (which you can change), but it becomes much more conscientious about copying formulas downward as you add new rows to your table.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11299) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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 six more than 1?

2021-10-07 09:28:03

Alex B

Thank you for responding, I was never able to quote any examples now I have at least one.
If you have time I would be interested in knowing what Ctrl+T has been used for in your version.

2021-10-06 06:35:17


@Alex B. Ctrl+L does work in French version of Excel, whereas Ctrl+T doesn't

2021-09-25 04:36:55

Alex B

@Greg, although everyone uses Ctrl+T I suspect that Ctrl+L is technically more correct.
Tables were initially called Lists in Excel and in VBA are still called List Objects.

One of the more definitive books on Tables by Zack Barrasse & Kevin Jones
Excel Tables: A Complete Guide for Creating, Using and Automating Lists and Tables
has this to say:-

"In versions of Excel other than the US English version, CTRL+L is the only keyboard shortcut to use for creating Tables. CTRL+T does not always work because it is sometimes repurposed for other commands in languages other than English."

Would love some examples of countries for which this holds true though.

2021-09-13 00:02:40

Col Delane

I am (still) using Excel 2007 and have always had the "Extend Data Range Formats and Formulas" option checked (i.e. switched On) - yet when I insert a new row immediately below any existing row which contains formulas the formats are replicated but the formulas are NOT!!

2021-09-11 16:00:33

Jacques Doyon

Comment on "Controlling the Automatic Copying of Formulas".

What about controlling the formula copy in the context of a dynamic array. Is this possible as in some cases previous formulas would have to be removed in order to adapt with the new range of results.

2021-09-11 14:12:15


BTW, it's Ctrl+T, not Ctrl+L to create an Excel Table

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