How to Use Paste Special in Excel 2010

Microsoft Excel 2010 normally copies all the information in the range of cells you select when you paste the data. Use Excel's Paste Special command to specify other options, such as pasting only the cell contents (without the formatting) or only the formatting (without the cell contents).

To paste particular parts of a cell selection, click the Paste button arrow on the Ribbon's Home tab. Then, click Paste Special on its drop-down menu to open the Paste Special dialog box.

Paste only some of a copied or cut cell's properties with Paste Special.
Paste only some of a copied or cut cell's properties with Paste Special.

You can specify which parts of the current cell selection to use by selecting the appropriate Paste Special options:

  • All to paste all the stuff in the cell selection (formulas, formatting, you name it). This is what happens when you paste normally.

  • Formulas to paste all the text, numbers, and formulas in the current cell selection without their formatting.

  • Values to convert formulas in the current cell selection to their calculated values.

  • Formats to paste only the formatting from the current cell selection, without the cell entries.

  • Comments to paste only the notes that you attach to their cells (kinda like electronic self-stick notes).

  • Validation to paste only the data validation rules into the cell range that you set up with the Data Validation command.

  • All Using Source Theme to paste all the information plus the cell styles applied to the cells.

  • All Except Borders to paste all the stuff in the cell selection without copying any borders you use there.

  • Column Widths to apply the column widths of the cells copied to the Clipboard to the columns where the cells are pasted.

  • Formulas and Number Formats to include the number formats assigned to the pasted values and formulas.

  • Values and Number Formats to convert formulas to their calculated values and include the number formats you assigned to all the copied or cut values.

  • All Merging Conditional Formats to paste conditional formatting into the cell range.

When you paste, you can also perform some simple math calculations based on the value(s) in the copied or cut cell(s) and the value in the target cell(s):

  • None: Excel performs no operation between the data entries you cut or copy to the Clipboard and the data entries in the cell range where you paste. This is the default setting.

  • Add: Excel adds the values you cut or copy to the Clipboard to the values in the cell range where you paste.

  • Subtract: Excel subtracts the values you cut or copy to the Clipboard from the values in the cell range where you paste.

  • Multiply: Excel multiplies the values you cut or copy to the Clipboard by the values in the cell range where you paste.

  • Divide: Excel divides the values you cut or copy to the Clipboard by the values in the cell range where you paste.

Finally, at the bottom of the Paste Special dialog box, you have a few other options:

  • Skip Blanks: Select this check box when you want Excel to paste only from the cells that aren't empty.

  • Transpose: Select this check box when you want Excel to change the orientation of the pasted entries. For example, if the original cells' entries run down the rows of a single column of the worksheet, the transposed pasted entries will run across the columns of a single row.

  • Paste Link: Click this button when you want to establish a link between the copies you're pasting and the original entries. That way, changes to the original cells automatically update in the pasted copies.

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