How 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, there are easy shortcuts you can use the cut, copy, and paste.

These instructions apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Excel for Office 365. 

Copying Data in Microsoft Excel

Copying data in Excel is convenient when you need to duplicate functions, formulas, charts, and other data. The new location can be on the same or different worksheet or even in a completely different workbook.

As in all Microsoft programs, there is more than one way of accomplishing a task. In Excel, you can copy and move data in three ways:

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

When the copy command is activated, the clipboard temporarily stores a duplicate of the selected data until you paste it into the destination cell or cells.

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

Copy and Paste Data in Excel With Shortcut Keys

The easiest way to cut, copy, and paste, arguably, is with keyboard shortcuts. The keyboard key combinations for copying and pasting data are:

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

  1. Click 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. A moving border (sometimes called marching ants) will surround the selected cell(s).
  5. Click the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click the cell 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 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.

Copy Data in Excel With the Context Menu

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

Excel's right-click context menu with Copy selected.
  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. A moving black border will surround the selected cell(s).
  5. Click on the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell 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 in both the original and destination locations.

Copy Data With the Ribbon

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

Excel's copy function highlighted in the ribbon.
  1. Click on a cell or multiple cells to highlight them.
  2. Click on the Copy icon on the ribbon.
  3. A moving black border will surround the selected cell(s).
  4. Click on the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell 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 in both the original and destination locations.

Moving Data in Microsoft Excel

There is no move command in Excel. To move data, you need to cut and paste it from one location to the new one. You can use cut/paste in Excel to relocate functions, formulas, charts, and other data. The new location can be in the same or different worksheet or even in a completely different workbook.

As with copying, there are three ways to cut data in Excel:

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

When you cut data in Excel, the clipboard temporarily stores it, just like when you copy data.

Move Data in Excel With Shortcut Keys

The keyboard key combinations used to copy data are:

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

  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. A moving black border will surround the selected cell(s).
  5. Click on the destination cell — when moving multiple cells of data, click on the cell 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 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.

Move Data in Excel With the Context Menu

When you right-click on a cell, the context menu always includes the cut, copy, and paste commands.

Excel's right-click context menu with Cut selected.
  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. A moving border (sometimes called marching ants) will surround the selected cell(s).
  5. Click on the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell 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 only in the destination location.

Move Data in Excel With the Ribbon

The cut and paste commands are in the Clipboard section on the Home tab of the ribbon.

Excel's cut function highlighted in the ribbon.
  1. Click on a cell or multiple cells to highlight them.
  2. Click on the Cut icon on the ribbon.
  3. A moving black border will surround the selected cell(s).
  4. Click on the destination cell — when copying multiple cells of data, click on the cell 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 in the destination location only.