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Microsoft Excel 2003/2004

Editing Cell Contents

This document will cover various editing techniques you can use in Excel.

return to topMoving Information

Often, your first approach at organization will not be the same as your final ideas. For this reason, you may want to reorganize information. Also, you may have the need for a similar formula in a second location. The Drag and Drop, Cut and Paste, and Copy and Paste options will help you do this without having to recreate the entire worksheet.

Drag and Drop vs. Cut and Paste

Drag and Drop allows you to move the information from a single cell or a range of cells. Drag and Drop is great for moving short distances but challenging for moving to cells not displayed on the current screen. The Excel default settings will warn you if you try to drop on cells already containing information. Cut and Paste is the better method when moving information over long distances.

Moving Information: Drag and Drop

In Word, it makes little difference if you Drag and Drop text rather than Cut and Paste it; however, the difference is significant when formulas are involved. When using the Drag and Drop method, cell references are updated.

  1. Select the cell(s) to be moved
    HINTS:
    To select an individual cell, click that cell.
    To select multiple contiguous cells, click and drag across the desired cells.

  2. Point to and click the heavy border surrounding the cell(s)
    Windows: The mouse pointer changes to a four-headed arrowMove Object cursor.
    Macintosh: The mouse pointer changes to a handHand icon .
    Heavy Border

  3. Holding the mouse button, drag the cell(s) to the new location
    NOTE: An outline of the cell(s) you are moving will appear over the new location. As you move the cell(s), a box appears next to the pointer indicating the cell location.

  4. When you reach the desired location, to drop the cell(s), release the mouse button
    WARNING: If information already exists at the new location, a dialog box will appear asking if you want to replace the information.

To undo Drag and Drop:

  1. From the Edit menu, select Undo Drag and Drop
    OR
    On the Standard toolbar, click UNDOUndo button

Moving Information: Cut and Paste

When using Cut and Paste, double check formulas to ensure that cell references are properly updated.

  1. Select the cell(s) to be moved
    HINTS:
    To select an individual cell, click that cell.
    To select multiple contiguous cells, click and drag across the desired cells.

  2. From the Edit menu, select Cut
    OR

    On the Standard toolbar, click CUTCut button
    A moving border appears around your selection.

  3. Select the cell where you want the cell(s) to be pasted

  4. From the Edit menu, select Paste
    OR

    On the Standard toolbar, click PASTEPaste button

return to topCopying Formulas

With a relative formula, the cell references change in relation to the new location of the cell. For example, if you copied the formula from column A to B and the formula used a value in cell A12, the formula would now be referring to cell B12. If you cut the formula, it would refer to the original cell, A12.

With an absolute formula, in the same example, the cell reference to A12 would remain constant.

A formula can have both relative and absolute components. When formulas are created, they are created as relative. By adding a dollar sign ($) before either the column or row location or both, that reference becomes absolute.

When copying formulas, cell references are important to the result of the formula. If you want to copy the formula and look at cells with similar information one column over, a relative formula is the best choice. However, if you want to copy the formula and refer to the same cell (perhaps the wage rate of a student employee), you should be working with an absolute formula, not a relative formula.

NOTE: Absolute references are automatically updated for column and row additions and deletions.

Example
Description
=A12+B12 Formula with relative references
=SUM(A12:A16) Function with relative references
=$A$12+$B$12 Formula with absolute references
=SUM($A$12:$A$16) Function with absolute references
=$A12+$B12 Formula with absolute column references but relative row references
=SUM(A$12:A$16) Function with absolute row references but relative column references

Copy and Paste

Copy and Paste works well for duplicating formulas, values, and labels without reentering them. The process for copying information is similar to copying in Word or other Windows applications. For another option for copying cell information, refer to Using the Fill Command.

  1. Select the cell(s) to be copied
    HINTS:
    To select an individual cell, click that cell.
    To select multiple contiguous cells, click and drag across the desired cells.

  2. From the Edit menu, select Copy
    OR
    On the Standard toolbar, click COPYCopy button
    A moving border appears around your selection.

  3. Select the cell where you want the cells to be pasted

  4. From the Edit menu, select Paste
    OR
    On the Standard toolbar, click PASTEPaste button

  5. To deselect Copy, double click outside the area just pasted or copied

return to topUsing the Fill Command

To repeat information to contiguous cells instead of copying cells, you can use the Fill option. If the first cell contains a formula, the formula will be repeated in the additional cells. If the first cell contains text, the text will be repeated in the additional cells. However, with the Fill option, if Excel recognizes a pattern of information, the additional cells will contain the next item in the pattern. For more information, refer to Using the Fill Command.

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