In this tutorial, you will learn all about the Excel Paste Special feature and useful Excel Paste Special Shortcuts.

What is Excel Paste Special?

What happens when you copy a cell in excel and paste it somewhere else? It copies not only the content of the cell but also the format such as background color, font color, borders(as shown below).

But what if you want to copy only the cell contents and not the formatting, or only the formatting and not the values, or only the formula within it? You can’t do that with a simple copy paste but you can do that using Excel Paste Special functionality in Excel.

Accessing Excel Paste Special Options?

There are a couple of ways you can access the Excel Paste Special features. The first step is to copy the cells that you want to paste. Once you copy it, here are three different ways to access paste special in Excel:

Using the Ribbon: Go to Home –> Clipboard –> Paste –> Paste Special. This will open the Excel Paste Special Dialogue box. Using Keyboard Shortcut: Use the Excel Paste Special Shortcut – Alt + E + S + V. Using Right-click Menu: Right Click in the cell where you want to paste, and then select paste special.

All these three options would open a Paste Special dialogue box, as shown below:

Understanding Excel Paste Special Dialogue Box

It could be overwhelming to see so many options for something as simple as copying and pasting in Excel. However, when you go through these, it makes a lot of sense to have these options available. If you have a good grip on these Excel Paste Special options, it can save you a lot of time (and you know time is money!). So let’s learn more about these options:

Paste Options in the Paste Special Dialogue Box:

These options enable you to paste selectively. For example, you can choose to only paste formulas, or values, or formats, or comments, etc. To use these, simply copy the cells, go the cell where you want to paste it, open the paste special dialogue box, and select the desired option. For example, suppose you have a data set where you have formatted the data using borders and fill colors. If you want to copy only the values, copy the data, go to the destination cell where you want the data to be copied, open the Excel Paste Special dialog box, and select Values. This will only copy the data and not the formatting.

Operation Options in the Paste Special Dialogue Box:

Operations options give you a quick way to perform the given operations without applying a formula or directly changing the cell contents. For example, let’s say you have some numbers that are in millions, and you want to convert it into billions. One way of doing this would be to create a formula where you divide the number with 1000. Here is a better way:

In an empty cell, enter 1000. Select this cell and copy it (Control + C). Select the cells that you want to convert from million to billion. Open the Paste Special Dialogue box and select the Divide option.

That’s it! It will convert the numbers into billions. In a similar way, you can use other operations as well – Add, Subtract, or Multiply using Paste Special.

Additional Excel Paste Special Options

Apart from the Paste and Operation option, there are two additional options in the Excel Paste Special dialogue box.

Skip Blanks: This would skip copying and pasting the blanks. A practical use if this could be when you have data split into 2 columns and you want to combine it in a single column. Something as shown below: Transpose: As the name suggests, if this is checked, it transposes the data when you paste it.

Excel Paste Special Shortcuts

If you start using Excel Paste Special when you copy and paste data in Excel, knowing a couple of keyboard shortcuts will save you a lot of time. Here is the list of the shortcuts While you may not remember these all, it’s a good practice to consciously use these for a couple of times and then you will know these like the back of your hand.

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