Skip to main content

Apply a formula to an entire column in Excel (5 tricks)

Author: Kelly Last Modified: 2024-01-03

Working with large Excel sheets often requires applying a consistent formula across an entire column. However, entering this formula into each individual cell becomes a laborious process. This tutorial is designed to introduce you to quick and efficient strategies for extending a single formula throughout an entire column, saving you considerable time and ensuring consistency in your data processing.


Copy a formula down a column by double-clicking the fill handle

One of the easiest and most efficient methods to apply a formula to an entire column is through a simple double-click trick with your mouse, particularly effective for very long datasets.

  1. Select the first cell in the column that contains the formula you want to copy.
  2. Find the fill handle (the small green square in the lower-right corner of the cell) and double-click on it.

    double-clicking the fill handle

Note: This method will apply the formula down the column, and will stop at the last filled cell in an adjacent column.


Replicate a formula down a column by dragging the fill handle

Another common method for applying a formula down a column is manually dragging the fill handle. This approach also overcomes the limitation of the double-click method, which stops when it encounters a blank cell in the adjacent column.

  1. Select the first cell in the column that contains the formula you want to copy.
  2. Locate the fill handle (the small green square in the lower-right corner of the cell), hold down the left mouse button and drag it to the cell where you wish to extend the formula.

    dragging the fill handle

Tip: If you want to apply a formula across a row to the right, simply drag the fill handle to the right up to the cell where you need the formula applied.

Apply a formula to an entire column using the Fill command

Excel's Fill Down command is another effective way to apply a formula to a column. Here's how to use it:

  1. Select the column of cells where you want to apply the formula. Ensure that the first cell of your selection contains the formula you intend to copy.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, select Fill > Down.

    fill command

Tip: To apply a formula horizontally to the right in a row, select the row starting with the cell containing the formula, then click on Fill > Right.

Copy a formula down a column using shortcut keys

For those comfortable with keyboard shortcuts, Excel offers a quick alternative to the Fill Down command, enhancing the efficiency of formula application. Let's explore how to use this shortcut for faster formula filling.

  1. Select the column of cells where you want to apply the formula. Ensure that the first cell of your selection contains the formula you intend to copy.
  2. Press Ctrl + D.

    shortcut

Tip: To apply a formula to the right in a row, select the row starting with the cell containing the formula, then press Ctrl + R.

Apply a formula to an entire column by copy-pasting the cell

You can also apply a formula to a column by simply copying the cell with the formula and pasting it over the cells in the column where you want the formula applied.

  1. Select the cell containing the formula and press Ctrl + C to copy it.
  2. Select all the cells where you want to apply the formula, and press Ctrl + V to paste the copied formula.

    copy-pasting the cell

Tip: After copying a formula, you can select multiple ranges where you want the formula applied and then press Ctrl + V to paste the formula into all these ranges simultaneously.

Troubleshooting fill handle, recalculation, and formatting issues

In this section, we delve into common challenges you may face while working with Excel's fill handle, formula recalculation, and cell formatting. We'll provide practical solutions to these issues, ensuring a smoother Excel experience. If you encounter other concerns or need further clarification, don't hesitate to leave a comment.


Don’t see the fill handle

If the fill handle isn't visible, check if it's enabled in Excel options. Go to File > Options > Advanced, and under Editing options, ensure the Enable fill handle and cell drag-and-drop option is checked.

Don’t see the fill handle


Formulas won’t recalculate when filling cells

If formulas don't recalculate automatically after using the above methods, it's likely due to the workbook's calculation setting. To fix this, set your workbook to automatic calculation: go to Formulas > Calculation Options, and select Automatic. This ensures formulas update as soon as changes are made.

Formulas won’t recalculate


Avoid unwanted formatting when copying formulas

When you need to copy a formula in Excel but want to avoid bringing along the original cell's formatting, here are some solutions to consider:

  • When using the fill handle: After you apply a formula, an Auto Fill Options icon Auto Fill Options icon will appear near the lower-right corner of the applied range. Click this icon and select Fill Without Formatting.

    Fill Without Formatting

  • When using the Fill command or shortcut keys: Be aware that there is no direct way to fill only the formula without its formatting. In such cases, consider using other methods to apply your formula.
  • When using the copy-and-paste approach: A Paste Options icon Paste Options icon will appear near the applied range's lower-right corner after you paste a formula. Click on it and choose the Formulas option Formulas option. This will paste just the formulas, leaving out any source cell formatting.

    Paste formulas only

Above is all the relevant content related to applying a formula to an entire column in Excel. I hope you find the tutorial helpful. If you're looking to explore more Excel tips and tricks, please click here to access our extensive collection of over thousands of tutorials.

Comments (65)
No ratings yet. Be the first to rate!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Bonjour et merci pour le tuto.

Petit question, je sais pas si elle a deja été posée, mais comment faire si j'ai un colonne de 1000 lignes ?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi there,

You can double-click on the small green square in the lower-right corner of the cell which contains the formula. The formula will then fill in the below cells at once.

Amanda
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
When dragging function down a column I cant get formula to go past line 30. 31 and down shows #VALUE! any suggestions?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I need to combine 2 columns (last name first name) into 1 column (name) and then delete the 2 columns that I combined. How do I do that?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Formula =A1&" "&B2
make sure there's a space between the "
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi, i wanted to ask something
I want to count the total Shifts within the Shift column and put it in either Shift 1,Shift 2, or Shift 3 in column Q,R & S.
As you can see in the picture, i already copy the formula from M2 (Circle 2) to below it.
The thing is, i wanted to count the Shift per Each Day.
But as you can see i had a little bit of problem. I had 2 problems :
1. I want to copy the formula to the cell below BUT in a different day, NOT the same day, i searched on the internet and i still don't have a clue on how to do that.
2.If there's no way to do that, is there any way that i can count the shift (i'm using COUNTIF here in Q2,R2 & S2 (Circle 3) ) from 23rd July - 30th July, without including the shift from the same day ? The point is i wanted to retrieve one shift per day, and as you can see if i retrieve the data, it counts as three/four shift per day (Circle 1).

If there's any question about my problem, do feel free to ask !!
Thank you.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I forgot to attach the picture i think, here it is.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
hi, if the cell are not the same size in a column, then how can i copy the calculation of the top cell of column to the end (there are 200 rows in that column), as example if the first cell contains three rows merged but the second one is of two rows merged then dragging option does not work, what to do then ? pls advise.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi Saif,
Hotkeys may work.
Select the target column or cells you will apply formulas, type the formula in the formula bar, and then press Ctrl + Enter keys simultaneously.
There are no comments posted here yet
Load More
Leave your comments
Posting as Guest
×
Rate this post:
0   Characters
Suggested Locations