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Do the math with Paste Special


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Do the math with Paste Special

Most Excel users know how to convert formulas to values with the Paste Special function. In addition to converting formulas to values, Paste Special also makes it easy to perform mathematical operations on a range of cells "in place."

Let's say you've entered some numbers in a range of cells, and now you want to double those values. You could write a formula elsewhere in the sheet that multiplies the values in the original cells by two, then copy the cells with the formulas, and use Paste Special | Values to overlay the new values on the original cells. But then you would have the extra step of deleting the work cells that contained the doubling formula.

Instead, select the cells whose values you want to double, press [Ctrl]C to copy them, go to Edit | Paste Special, select Add in the Operation section, and click OK. Excel adds the values you copied to the values contained in the target cells, thereby doubling the original values.

This feature is also useful when you want to update a range of cells using the values from a completely different range of cells. Just select and copy the first set of values, click the first cell in the target range, and go to Edit | Paste Special. From there, select Add, Subtract, Multiply, or Divide, and then click OK. Excel will update the target cells with the calculations' results.

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