How to Fix Excel Copy and Paste Problems

Written by Debra Dalgleish from Contextures Blog

Copying and pasting can save you lots of time in Excel. Imagine if you had to manually re-enter all that data instead!. Occasionally though, you might run into problems. See how to fix Excel copy and paste problems when you’re working with multiple selections. One problem is sneaky, and you might not even know it’s happening!

Copy and Paste Problems

First, watch this short video, to see two problems you might have when copying and pasting multiple selections. The written notes are below the video.

To follow along with the video, go to my Contextures site, and get the sample file.

Video Timeline:

  • 0:00 — Introduction
  • 0:15 — Copy Error Message
  • 0:42 — Avoid the Error Message
  • 1:54 — Paste Problem
  • 2:40 — Copy 2 Ranges
  • 3:23 — Paste With Formulas
  • 4:13 — Get the Workbook

Multiple Selections Copy Error

First, here’s an Excel copy and paste problem that you might run into, if you select more than one group of cells on a worksheet, and try to copy them.

Things might work smoothly for a while, then suddenly Excel shows a message that warns you, “This action won’t work on multiple selections.”

This action won't work on multiple selections

Why You See the Copy Error

Excel will show that error message if you selected multiple ranges, and those ranges don’t “match up”.

For example, Excel will show a warning message if

  1. you select cells in columns A:C
  2. then you make another selection in different columns, A:B
  3. Then you press Ctrl+C to copy (or use another method to copy)

different columns selected causes Excel copy and paste problem

Avoid the Copy Error

Here’s how to avoid that Excel copy and paste problem, so you don’t see the multiple selections copy error.

When you’re selecting the cells, be sure to select regions that are:

  • in the exact same columns
  • OR, in the exact same rows

Even one wrong cell will cause that error message!

So, be sure that each selection includes exactly the same rows or columns. The next example, won’t cause Excel copy and paste problems, because both selections are in columns A:C.

same columns selected

Paste Problem for Multiple Selections

Next, here’s another problem you can run into, when working with multiple selections. And this problem can be worse, because Excel doesn’t give you a warning message!

So heed this warning instead! If you copy more than one group of cells on a worksheet, and paste them in a different location, Excel might change your formulas to values.

That could definitely cause problems later, if you don’t notice that it happened!

How to Paste the Formulas

To keep the formulas, follow these steps:

  • Copy the multiple selections
  • Right-click the cell where you want to start the paste
  • In the pop-up menu, click Paste Special
  • In the Paste Special window, click OK

use Paste Special command to avoid Excel copy and paste problem

That way, all your formulas will be pasted too, and you can avoid the fallout from Excel copy and paste problems later.

Get the Sample File

To get the Excel copy and paste problems sample file, and see more tips and videos, go to the Data Entry Tips page on my Contextures site.


How to Fix Excel Copy and Paste Problems


How to Fix Excel Copy and Paste Problems


How to Fix Excel Copy and Paste Problems is a post from Contextures Blog and is not allowed to be copied to other sites

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