How To Copy a Formula Down a Column in Google Sheets

You can use Google Sheets for anything from household budgeting to business management. Sheets also makes short work of accounts, invoicing, and billing. One way it helps out is with formulas, and that’s the subject of today’s tutorial. This article shows you how to copy a formula down an entire column in Google Sheets to help you save time and frustration.

How To Copy a Formula Down a Column in Google Sheets

Help with Google Sheets Formulas

Formulas are the math behind the spreadsheet. Using particular expressions, you tell the sheet what to do with the data you enter into specific cells to generate the desired result. The task can be as simple as adding two cells to create a total and collating the averages over thousands of different cells. Regardless of the size and scope of the calculation, the core formula usually remains the same.

How To Use Formulas In Google Sheets

Formulas are relatively straightforward, even if you are not a math geek. Google Sheets uses logical expressions to deliver results depending on your entered criteria. You can see the formula in the cell containing said formula or within the formula bar (fx bar) at the top of the Google Sheet. Here’s how to enter a formula in Google sheets.

  1. Double-click on the cell where you want your formula to appear, then type “=” without quotes followed by the formula string.
  2. Press Enter to save the formula, or click on another cell. The results will appear in the cell, while the formula string appears in the “fx” box above.

In the above image, cell D3’s formula appears in the “fx” box, and the actual value appears in the cell. The example above adds cells B3 and C3, forming a sum. It is a simple formula, but it gives you an idea of how they work.

Formulas can become complex advanced statements capable of functions including sorting, highlighting specific cells based on specified criteria, combining various mathematics for specific cell combinations, and much more.

Copy a Formula Down an Entire Column in Google Sheets

You have a few options to copy calculations down an entire column in Google Sheets, depending on the formula. You’ll understand that better when you get to option #3. The easiest method is to grab the fill handle and slide it down to your last cell. However, longer sheets work best by simply double-clicking the handle. You can also use the top one to initiate a formula replication process that flows down your entire column. Here are the details on all three options.

Option #1: Dragging The Top Cell to Replicate Formulas

  1. Highlight the first cell in your column that includes the formula, then select the fill handle (small blue box) in the cell’s bottom-right section. The cursor turns into a crosshair when positioned correctly.
  2. Drag the crosshair down to the last desired cell for the specified formula. Google Sheets will automatically populate the correct string for each row.

The above process uses row #3’s formula [=SUM(B3+C3)] to autopopulate all other selected rows within the column [=SUM(B4+C4)], [=SUM(B5+C5)], etc.

Note: Option #1 will insert “0” in a row where no data is present. You’ll have to delete the contents of that cell if you want it blank.

Option #2: Double-Click the Top Cell to Replicate The Formula Down The Column

  1. Select the first cell in the column, including the formula, then hover over the fill handle in the bottom-right corner. DO NOT CLICK IT YET.
  2. Double-click the left mouse button while on the fill handle. This process will autogenerate the formula to the last filled cell in the column.

Note: Option #2 will stop inserting formulas when it reaches a blank row down the column. Copy the first cell, paste it into the next filled cell of the column, and replicate the steps above.

Option #3: Use an Array Formula to Replicate Calculations Down The Column

The last method to duplicate a formula down a column in Google Sheets is to use the “ArrayFormula” function. Be sure to type the correct ranges into the formula string.

Google Array Formula Range Examples to Replicate Formulas in a Column

The above example uses the “addition” formula (B3+C3), but it uses a range (B3 to B6 and C3 to C6), which adds each set (B3+C3, B4+C4, B5+C5, and B6+C6).

The above example calculates identical totals as the previous formula, except it replaces the “0” in cells with no characters so that it appears empty. The ISBLANK part ignores blank cells, and the characters inserted inside “” are what Google Sheets places into the empty cells, which get set as nothing.

Note: Option #3 will auto-populate the formula in each column cell based on your specified range. If any blank cells exist within it, it will insert “0” in the cell unless you add the “ISBLANK” and “=0” formulas, as shown above.

All cells become undeletable unless you clear the array formula in the top one and choose another method. If you try to add a number in a cell within the array, the formula cell will display “#REF!” and all cells below it become blank except the one you changed. Delete does nothing to the cells within the array.

Copying a Google Sheet to Apply New Formulas

One sheet can contain much data, so it’s always best to use a copy first to verify you’ll get the desired results. Here’s how to copy a spreadsheet to test new formulas without worrying about messing up your official spreadsheet.

  1. First, open the sheet you want to duplicate.
  2. Next, right-click and select “Duplicate.”
    Google Sheets Duplicate Setting
  3. A new sheet gets created using the same name as your file, except it adds “Copy of” in front of it.
  4. Use this sheet to test out new formulas on real-world data, etc. Make sure to have multiple copies of any critical data.

In closing, the methods used in Google Sheets to replicate formulas in a column are not complicated as long as you understand the formula strings/arguments used. Whatever formula option suits you best, you should test it on a small-scale sheet first to verify it works the way you want, then copy it over. It is also best to run a second test on a full-scale, genuine copy of your original sheet before officially implementing the formulas, mainly because you have a lot of data that could get changed for the worse.

6 thoughts on “How To Copy a Formula Down a Column in Google Sheets”

John Lawson says:
I am using Google Sheets.
The Input Form adds new data into a google sheet named ‘Form’ on the next empty line.
Works well,
On another sheet named ‘Tally’, I Query data from ‘Form’. ‘ie =QUERY(Form!A:AJ, “select *”)’
and that data is placed in ‘Tally’ on the next empty row. In Column AK I add ‘=MONTH(A2)’ and AL I add ‘=YEAR(A2)’.
Here is my Dilemma.
AS each new row in Tally is added I need to add the two above formulas BUT NOT BEFORE. Drag and the other manual entries wont work. This needs to be automatic.
Why you say. It is because when you get to the bottom of Tally and a new row is added Drag and the other manual solutions cant be done. This will be in production and there will be no one at the programming terminal to make the change.
John Lawson says:
Step one…I build a Form, the spread sheet connected to the Form automatically adds row 1 as the header, row 2 is the first set of data, then adds 50 empty rows. Cool. Now at the end of row 2 in the last cell i add ‘=month(a2)’ and drag it to the bottom of the sheet. Step 2… I go back to the form and add 55 more sets of data which fills up my 52 rows. Sheets continues to add new rows as new data is sent to it but at row 53 my ‘=month()’ stops replicating and the rest of my rows stop displaying the month. Ouch, I need those months for other ‘sumifs’ functions. Can anyone help?
nonoyer biznez says:
You might want to update this. The instructions for highlighting the first cell with the formula then going to the last in the column no longer works.
Steve Larner says:
Thank you. The article was recently updated with content and images to reflect accuracy.

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