This browser does not support basic Web standards, preventing the display of our site's intended design. May we suggest that you upgrade your browser?

Microsoft Excel 2007/2008

Editing Cell Contents

After creating part of an Excel worksheet, you may discover that the information needs to be changed, moved, or repeated. Excel allows you to edit cell contents in a variety of ways that can make creating your document easier. Functions and formulas can be copied or moved, lists can be automatically continued, and formulas can be applied to different data. This document will cover various editing techniques you can use in Excel 2007/2008.

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. You may also want to duplicate an established formula for use in another cell. 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. Cut and Paste is the better method when moving information over long distances.

Moving Information: Drag and Drop

Formulas using relative cell references are automatically updated when the cells they are referring to are moved using the Drag and Drop method.

NOTE: Be sure to check the cell references; one accidental absolute reference can alter the end result of the calculation.

  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 the heavy border surrounding the cell(s)
    Heavy Border graphic
    Windows: The cursor changes to a four-headed arrowMove Object cursor.
    Macintosh: The cursor changes to an open handMove object cursor.

  3. Click and hold the mouse button

  4. 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.

  5. When you reach the desired location, to drop the cell(s), release the mouse button
    The cell(s) are inserted into the selected location.
    WARNING: If information already exists at the new location, a dialog box will appear to confirm that you want to replace the information.

To Undo Drag and Drop:

  1. Windows: On the Quick Access toolbar, click UNDOUndo button
    OR
    Press [Ctrl] + [Z]
    Macintosh: From the Standard toolbar, click UNDOUndo button
    OR
    Press [Cmd] + [Z]

Moving Information: Cut and Paste

Formulas using relative cell references are automatically updated when the cells they are referring to are moved using the Cut and Paste method. Be sure to check the cell references after pasting; if even one accidental absolute reference is contained in your formulas, the results of your calculation could be altered.

  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. Windows: Press [Ctrl] + [X]
    Macintosh: Press [Cmd] + [X]
    OR
    Windows: On the Home command tab in the Clipboard group, click CUTCut button
    Macintosh: From the Edit menu, select Cut
    A moving border appears around your selection.

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

  4. Windows: Press [Ctrl] + [V]
    Macintosh: Press [Cmd] + [V]
    OR

    Windows: On the Home command tab in the Clipboard group, click PASTEPaste button
    Macintosh: From the Standard toolbar, click PASTEPaste button
    The information is pasted.

return to topCopying Formulas

Copying formulas works differently than moving formulas. When copying formulas, you must be aware that some types of cell references will update to reflect information for the new location, while some will continue to use the original information.

When copying formulas, correct cell references are especially important to the result of the formula. Formulas that are copied to a new location can use either relative or absolute cell references. 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
=$A$12+$B$12 Formula with absolute references
=$A12+$B12 Formula with absolute column references and relative row references
=A$12+B$12 Formula with absolute row references and 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 in Excel is similar to copying in Word or other Windows applications. For another option to copy 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. Windows: Press [Ctrl] + [C]
    Macintosh: Press [Cmd] + [C]
    OR
    Windows: On the Home command tab in the Clipboard group, click COPYCopy button
    Macintosh: From the Standard toolbar, click COPYCopy button
    A moving border appears around your selection.

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

  4. Windows: Press [Ctrl] + [V]
    Macintosh: Press [Cmd] + [V]
    OR

    Windows: On the Home command tab in the Clipboard group, click PASTEPaste button
    Macintosh: From the Standard toolbar, click PASTEPaste button
    The information is pasted.

  5. To deselect the copied cells,
    Windows: Press [Ctrl] + [D]
    Macintosh: Press [Cmd] + [D]
    OR
    Press [Esc]

return to topUsing the Fill Command

The Fill command allows you to repeat or continue information in contiguous cells without copying the information manually. With this option, if the first cell contains a formula, the formula will be repeated in the additional cells, and if the first cell contains text, the text will be repeated in the additional cells. If Excel recognizes a pattern of information, the additional cells will contain the next item in the pattern (e.g., if the selected cells are numbered from one to five, the next cell would contain six). For more information, refer to Using the Fill Command.

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.