Quickly Copy Excel Formula Down

Recently, I saw this tweet, from someone stuck on an Excel problem:

  • An Excel problem I have never solved – easily copying a formula down tens of thousands of rows where the row next to it may be blank.

Yes, it's easy to copy a formula down a column, if the adjacent column is filled. Follow these steps to copy the formula down to the first blank cell in the adjacent column.

  • Select the cell with the formula
  • Point to the fill handle, at the bottom right of the selected cell
  • When the pointer changes to a black plus sigh, double-click the fill handle

fillhandle01

Fill Down with Empty Adjacent Column

However, if the adjacent column is empty, this fill handle trick doesn't work. How can you quickly enter formulas in a column, if you're setting up a workbook, with lots of empty cells?

Here's how I do it – maybe you have another trick to do the same thing:

  • Select the cell with the formula
  • Click in the Name Box, and type the range where you want the formula entered. In this example, the formula is in cell D2, and it should go down to cell D2000.

fillhandle02

  • Press the Enter key, to select the range of cells
  • On the keyboard, press Ctrl + D, to fill the formula down through the selected cells.

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20 comments to Quickly Copy Excel Formula Down

  • Fill down with empty cells in adjacent column is a common problem I solve by using the Ctrl+arrow keys to navigate to the first column, then last row, then as far as I can get to the formula column. The last little bit I'll use the arrow keys to move over to the column with the formula, then use Ctrl+Shift+Up Arrow to shoot up to the first row where the formula is located, then use Ctrl+Down to copy the formula.

    Your method works great, but I don't normally know what the last row of the range is, so I'm using Ctrl+ arrow keys to find out anyway.

  • JonC

    "Ctrl+D" is not valid for some other countries. French people are using CTRL B.

  • Shairal

    Excellent tip – did not know I could do this! :-)
    I usually copy my formula, then Ctrl+g and enter the cell I want to copy to, then Ctrl+Shift+Up Arrow and paste.

  • Matt L

    Very handy, thanks very much!

  • SK

    Great tip, and well work keeping in your Excel tool arsenal! Works in Excel 2013 as well. I needed to fill only 40 empty lines for a static form and this fit the bill perfectly.

  • dvp

    There is a much easier way.
    You can still use the fill handle by simply selecting the cell in the blank column and the cell you wish to copy down. Double-clicking the fill handle copies your formula down the contiguous range without changing the blank column.

  • Rlstevens14

    I'd like to copy a formula down several thousand cells with only one aspect of an IF function changing in each cell. Excel automatically changes every reference to a cell +1. Is there a way to hold everything in the function constant except for 1 variable? Here's the function I am trying to work with:

    =IF(auction1!E27=A2,auction1!E27,"") in cell B2
    =IF(auction1!E27=A3,auction1!E27,"") in cell B3
    =IF(auction1!E27=A4,auction1!E27,"") in cell B4 and so on...

    Thanks for any input!

  • Lavanya

    This is cool. Thanks for the helpful tip!

  • Ami

    Thank you!! A 1 minute Google search for "excel copy formula" just saved me 30 minutes of work! :D

  • Trevor

    I used the Name Box option to copy a formula to 127,000 lines

    Brilliant !!!!!!!

  • Sue Fox

    totally helpful! thank you.

  • Haitham

    Good work uninterrupted for ever ...
    Many thanks ...

  • Gary C

    Leave it to a real user to give much better info than the MS website. Thanks for a quick way to do exactly what I needed to do.

  • Elzee

    This is an excellent tip - thank you! If your workbook is not set up to automatically calculate, press F9 when you are done the above steps to show the new calculations.

  • Sharif from Bangladesh

    Thanks a lot. This is is new to me. And excellent one. Keep it up. We want to learn more from you. Thanks.

  • Jason

    Thanks, double click, it works, but I can't believe I never knew that. This is a big relief as I have 300,000 rows to copy a formula down through.

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