How to Use Paste Special for Simple Calculations in Microsoft Excel

Do you find yourself doing a lot of copy and paste of data in your spreadsheets? Did you know that you can use a special Excel’s paste feature to perform simple calculations? You can add, subtract, multiply, or divide in a few clicks with the paste special in Excel.

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RAYMOND OGLESBY @RaymondOglesby2
October 26, 2021

Do you find yourself doing a lot of copy and paste of data in your spreadsheets? Did you know that you can use a special Excel’s paste feature to perform simple calculations? You can add, subtract, multiply, or divide in a few clicks with the paste special in Excel. Let’s see how this is done.

This is for devices using Microsoft Excel. We are using Excel for Office 365.

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Maybe you have prices that you want to increase or costs that you want to decrease by dollar amounts. Or, perhaps you have inventory that you want to increase or decrease by unit amounts. You can perform these types of calculations quickly on a large number of cells with Excel’s paste special operations.

Setup Paste Special

For each of your simple calculations, you will open the Paste Special dialog box. Next, you will start copying the data and then selecting the cell(s) that you are pasting to.

First, open Microsoft Excel. To copy, you can press Ctrl+C or right-click and select Copy. Refer to below image:

Paste Special 1
Selecting Copy option

Now, do one of the following to access Paste Special.

  • Click the Paste drop-down arrow in the ribbon on the Home tab, then select Paste Special.
  • Right-click cells that you are pasting to and select Paste Special in the shortcut menu.

See below image:

Paste Special 2
Selecting Paste Special option

Use Simple Calculations With Paste Special

For basic numbers, decimals, and currency, you can choose from All, Values, or Values and Number Formats in the Paste section of the window. Use the best option for your data.

Next. you will use the section labeled Operation to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. See following image:

Paste Special 3
The Paste Special dialog box

Let’s look at a simple example of one operation to see how it all works.

Add With Paste Special

For this example, we want to add $50 to each of the amounts for our ski jacket prices to accommodate an increase.

We enter $50 into a cell outside of our data set and copy it. You might already have the data in your sheet or workbook that you need to copy. Refer to below image:

Paste Special 4
Selecting the amount for the increase

Now, we select the cells that we want to add $50 to and access Paste Special as described. Next, we choose Add in the Operation section and click OK. See below image:

Paste Special 5
Selecting to Add

And that’s it. All of the cells in your selection have increased by $50. See following image:

Paste Special 6
Your final result; all Ski Jackets are increased by $50

Subtract, multiply, or divide an amount works the same way. For multiply or divide, you would use units instead of currency.

Be sure to switch the operation back to None when you are finished.

The next time you need to add, subtract, multiply, or divide a large group of cells in Excel by the same amount, remember this trick using Paste Special.

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Author: Raymond

I am Raymond Oglesby, an Information Technology (IT) specialist with 30 years in the field. I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries and many States. My career was focused on mainframes and desktops from application development to implementation. I have written hundreds of programs for various architectures. I decided to start a blog to share my knowledge and experiences with you. I plan on updating this blog at least twice a week about smart phone apps to Windows. Please feel free to leave a Comment or Tweet. I would love to hear from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

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