Excel: Copy, Cut, Paste, and Format Painter

This is a very basic introduction into Excel. I am going to start with the upper left hand corner of the Ribbon bar: the Clipboard region.


While I am aware most of you already know how to use these features, my website is for everyone, including the most base beginner. I remember the frustration of learning the fundamentals of analytics from websites that assumed I already had a PhD and 10 years of work experience in the area.

So feel free to skip this, or take a few minutes to read through, you might be surprised. There may be some tricks in this little corner of Excel you were not aware of.

Cut, Copy, and Past

These 3 features are ambiguous with computer use dating back to days DOS. As a matter of fact, the old keyboard shortcuts used back then still work.

Cut (Ctrl-X) – deletes the highlighted text and stores it in local memory (a clipboard)

Copy (Ctrl-C) – leaves highlighted text as is, but saves a copy of it into local memory

Paste(Ctrl-V) – pastes the contents of the clipboard into the spot you have chosen.

Below are two examples


Start by highlight the rows A:1 -A:4, click Cut (or Ctrl-X). Now Select Cell C1. Click Paste (or Ctrl-V). Notice column A is now empty.


Start by highlight the rows A:1 -A:4, click Copy (or Ctrl-C). Now Select Cell C1. Click Paste (or Ctrl-V). Notice Column C is now a Copy of Column A


If you click on the bottom right of the Clipboard box, the clipboard window opens up, showing your the current contents saved to the clipboard


So now if I add some letters to column B and copy it, that will end up in the Clipboard as well. Notice the original data is still in the clipboard


Now when you want to paste, you can choose which item in the clipboard to paste. Without using the clipboard, Excel will paste the most recent item added to the clipboard by default.


Copy as Picture

You might notice a drop down arrow next to Copy in the Ribbon Bar. If you click on it, you will see Copy as Picture as an option. This is great when working with Charts. This saves the data as a picture or bitmap so when you paste it elsewhere it will not be affected by changes to the source data.

What I mean by that is, looking at the chart below, column b has a value of 2. If I change that 2 to a 4 in the data table this chart was created from the bar representing b would change to 4 (so would any copied charts). But a chart copied “as picture” would not change. Imagine it to be like a screen shot.


Paste Special

Notice the options below Paste when you hit the drop down arrow. Some of the more popularly used are Transpose (turns a vertical list to horizontal list and vise versa). Another popular option is to paste “values”. This is useful when trying to copy a calculated value where all you want is the number (not the formula who made it).


Format Painter

Format Painter can help you repeat text and color formatting with just a few clicks

Start by adding color and font bolding to a set of cells. Highlight those cells and click Format Painter


You will now see your cursor is paint brush. Find a target you want to duplicate your formatting to and click on it.


And now it looks the same.



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