Shortcut Keys to Cut, Copy, and Paste Data in Excel

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When working with large amounts of data in Excel, you might find the need to copy and paste something that you've already written, or perhaps wholly move a selection. Whether you are working with data within a single worksheet, multiple worksheets, or even various workbooks, this tutorial has you covered.

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Copying Data in Microsoft Excel

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Copying data in Excel is commonly used to duplicate functions, formula, charts, and other data. The new location can be on the same worksheet, in a different worksheet, or even in a completely different workbook.

As in all Microsoft programs, there is more than one way of accomplishing a task. The instructions below cover three ways to copy and move data in Excel:

  • Using a keyboard shortcut
  • Using the right-click context menu
  • Using menu options located on the Home tab of the ribbon

The Clipboard and Pasting Data

Copying data is never a single step process for the methods mentioned above. When the copy command is activated a duplicate of the selected data is placed in the clipboard, which is a temporary storage location.

From the clipboard, the selected data is pasted into the destination cell or cells. The four steps involved in the process are:

  1. Selecting the data to be copied
  2. Activating the copy command
  3. Clicking on the destination cell
  4. Activating the paste command

Other methods of copying data that don't involve using the clipboard include using the fill handle and drag and drop with the mouse.

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Copy Data in Excel with Shortcut Keys

Copy Data in Excel with Shortcut Keys

The keyboard key combinations used to move data are as follow:

Ctrl + C - activates the copy command
Ctrl + V — activates the paste command

To copy data using shortcut keys:

  1. Click on a cell or multiple cells to highlight them.
  2. Press and hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the C key without releasing the Ctrl key.
  4. The selected cell(s) should be surrounded by a moving black border to show that the data in the cell or cells is being copied.
  5. Click on the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell located in the top left corner of the destination range.
  6. Press and hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  7. Press and release the V key without releasing the Ctrl key.
  8. The duplicated data should now be located in both the original and destination locations.

The arrow keys on the keyboard can be used instead of the mouse pointer to select both the source and destination cells when copying and pasting data.

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Copy Data in Excel with the Context Menu

Copy Data in Excel with the Context Menu

While the options available in the context menu, or right-click menu, normally change depending upon the object selected when the menu is opened, the copy and paste commands are always available.

To copy data using the context menu:

  1. Click on a cell or multiple cells to highlight them.
  2. Right-click on the selected cell(s) to open the context menu.
  3. Choose copy from the available menu options.
  4. The selected cells should be surrounded by the moving black border to show that the data in the cell or cells is being copied.
  5. Click on the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell located in the top left corner of the destination range.
  6. Right click on the selected cell(s) to open the context menu.
  7. Choose paste from the available menu options.
  8. The duplicated data should now be located in both the original and destination locations.
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Copy Data with the Ribbon

Copy Data in Excel with the Context Menu

The copy and paste commands are located in the Clipboard section or box usually located on the left-hand side of the Home tab of the ribbon

To copy data using ribbon commands:

  1. Click on a cell or multiple cells to highlight them.
  2. Click on the Copy icon on the ribbon.
  3. The selected cell(s) should be surrounded by the moving black borders to show that the data in the cell or cells is being copied.
  4. Click on the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell located in the top left corner of the destination range.
  5. Click on the Paste icon on the ribbon.
  6. The duplicated data should now be located in both the original and destination locations.
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Moving Data in Microsoft Excel

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Moving data in Excel is commonly used to relocate functions, formula, charts, and other data. The new location can be on the same worksheet, in a different worksheet, or even in a completely different workbook.

There is no actual move command or icon in Excel. The term used when moving data is cut — the data is cut from its original location and then pasted into the new one.

Ways to Copy Data

As in all Microsoft programs, there is more than one way of moving data in Excel. These include:

  • Using a keyboard shortcut
  • Using the right-click context menu
  • Using menu options located on the Home tab of the ribbon

The Clipboard and Pasting Data

Moving data is never a single step process. When the move command is activated a copy of the selected data is placed in the clipboard, which is a temporary storage location. From the clipboard, the selected data is pasted into the destination cell or cells.

The four steps involved in the process are:

  1. Selecting the data to be copied
  2. Activating the copy command
  3. Clicking on the destination cell
  4. Activating the paste command

Other methods of moving data that don't involve using the clipboard include using drag and drop with the mouse.

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Move Data in Excel with Shortcut Keys

Moving Data in Microsoft Excel

The keyboard key combinations used to copy data are:

Ctrl + X — activates the cut command
Ctrl + V — activates the paste command

To move data using shortcut keys:

  1. Click on a cell or multiple cells to highlight them.
  2. Press and hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the X without releasing the Ctrl key.
  4. The selected cell(s) should be surrounded by a moving black border show that the data in the cell or cells is being copied.
  5. Click on the destination cell — when moving multiple cells of data, click on the cell located in the top left corner of the destination range.
  6. Press and hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  7. Press and release the V key without releasing the Ctrl key.
  8. The selected data should now be present in the destination location only.

The arrow keys on the keyboard can be used instead of the mouse pointer to select both the source and destination cells when cutting and pasting data.

  • To select multiple adjacent cells with the arrow keys, press and hold down the Shift key.
  • To select multiple non-adjacent cells with the arrow keys, use the Ctrl key.
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Move Data in Excel with the Context Menu

Move Data in Excel with the Context Menu

While the options available in the context menu, or right-click menu, normally change depending upon the object selected when the menu is opened, the copy and paste commands are always available.

To move data using the context menu:

  1. Click on a cell or multiple cells to highlight them.
  2. Right click on the selected cell(s) to open the context menu.
  3. Choose cut from the available menu options.
  4. The selected cells should be surrounded by the moving black lines to show that the data in the cell or cells is being moved
  5. Click on the destination cell - when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell located in the top left corner of the destination range.
  6. Right-click on the selected cell(s) to open the context menu.
  7. Choose paste from the available menu options.
  8. The selected data should now be present only in the destination location.
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Move Data in Excel with the Ribbon

Move Data in Excel with the Ribbon

The copy and paste commands are located in the Clipboard section or box usually located on the left-hand side of the Home tab of the ribbon.

To move data using ribbon commands:

  1. Click on a cell or multiple cells to highlight them.
  2. Click on the Cut icon on the ribbon.
  3. The selected cell(s) should be surrounded by the marching ants to show that the data in the cell or cells is being moved.
  4. Click on the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell located in the top left corner of the destination range.
  5. Click on the Paste icon on the ribbon.
  6. The selected data should now be present in the destination location only.