How to Drag Formula without Changing in Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a powerful tool when it comes to spreadsheet management. It offers various functions that help in managing and processing the data precisely. It isn’t just a normal spreadsheet management tool, as it offers multiple features that can be used extensively. The cherry on top is that Google Sheets allows you to craft your own formulas and apply them to only specific column cells or rows as required, too. In this article, we will guide you on How to Drag Formula without Changing in Google Sheets.

This reduces much human effort and makes things hassle-free. In recent times, through many web forums, we have come to know that many users are facing problems and difficulties while dragging formulas in Google sheets. People are unable to make use of this feature as they face difficulties with it. The problem is that when dragging the formulas, the reference cells change unexpectedly, and that’s quite an issue.

If you are facing the same issue and are unable to figure out a solution for it, then do not worry; we have everything covered for you. In this, we have explained through various ways how you can drag formulas without changing them in Google Sheets and that it is hassle-free. So, without wasting much of your time, let’s dive into the guide.

How to Drag Formula without Changing in Google Sheets

How to Drag Formula without Changing in Google Sheets

While working with Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, you would have noticed that formulas don’t appear in other cells. What users do is copy a formula and paste it into another cell. Then there are formulas that get applied to that cell, but the formula doesn’t appear anywhere in the cell. This actually happens because Google Sheets or Excel understands that you are just making some calculations, so things are calculated and formulas do not appear.

However, in some situations, if you want to copy the same formula without changing any cell references, then you can add the $ sign before the column or row number, which will act as an absolute reference. This ensures that the formulas you copy refer to the specific cell that was originally selected. It helps increase the consistency of the calculation when dealing with specific data points.

Drag Formula without Changing in Google Sheets

Relative Reference: =A1 + B1 (when copied to another cell, becomes =A2 + B2).

Absolute Reference: =$A$1 + $B$1 (when copied to another cell, it becomes or stays as =$A$1 + $B$1).

Method 1: Copying a Cell along with its References (Exact Formula/Cell Assignments)

When you select a particular cell and copy and paste it into another cell, the references automatically change. This is how these spreadsheet management tools work. However, there are ways in which you can change formulas without changing cell references.

  • Firstly, double-click the cell that contains the formula so you can enter editing mode.
  • Highlight the content of the formula by selecting the text in the formula bar and not just clicking on it.
  • Now copy the highlighted content so that formula automatically gets copied.
  • Now go to the cell in which you want to paste this formula, and you are good to go.

This method makes sure that the formula keeps the same references, so that the original structure of the formula is maintained in each cell.

Method 2: Using the Find and Replace feature

If you find the previous method not so useful, then you can use the find and replace feature. This helps in copying the formula without changing the exact references. Here is how you can do it.

  • Firstly, press Ctrl+H and head to edit, and select the find and replace option in Google Sheets.
  • Now two fields appear, under find type “=” and under replace type “/”. Make sure to check the mark “also search within formulas.”
  • Click Replace All, and then click Done. This will change your formula into a string, which will prevent it from changing into references while copying and pasting.
  • Now select the cell with references and paste it in the cell where you need the formulas. After you are done with the formulas, it is time to revert all the changes.
  • Again, go to the find and replace section and under find type “/” and under replace type “=”. Make sure to check the mark “also search within formulas again.”
  • Finally, click Replace All, and things will return to normal without changing the preferences.

Method 3: Using a Text Editor to Copy and Preserve Cell References

It might sound weird that a simple application like text editors (Notepad) can get your work done. That is copying the formula without changing the cell references. But that is true, and it works flawlessly. Here is how you can do it.

  • Firstly, press Ctrl+’ to enter the formula mode in Google Sheets.
  • While pressing the Ctrl key, copy the cells with the formula you want to copy or cut.
  • Now open a text editor like Notepad or any text editor and paste the copied content into it.
  • In the text editor, add space after each formula’s = sign, and make sure you don’t enter any extra characters into it.
  • Now copy all the content from the text editor.
  • Head back to the Google Sheet and select the upper left where you want to paste the formula. You can paste it by using the Ctrl+v command.
  • Finally, the formulas are copies without changing the references. Now revert back to the normal or default view by clicking Ctrl+’.

Make sure that you can only paste the formulas on the sheets and that you have copies so that references remain the same. Pasting in some other sheet might result in malfunctioning of the formula.


This brings us to the end of this guide for How to Drag Formula without Changing in Google Sheets. Google Sheets is a handy tool for working with data, and it comes with a cool feature called drag formula. This feature allows you to apply a formula to a bunch of cells without changing the formula itself. I hope the above steps are very clear to you to take advantage of this feature. In case the steps feel complicated, please feel free to comment down below.

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