How to Apply a Formula to an Entire Column in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Applying a formula to an entire column in Google Sheets is a breeze once you know the steps. All you need to do is input the formula in the first cell of the column, and then drag the fill handle down to apply the formula to the rest of the cells. Simple, right? Now, let’s walk through the details.

Step by Step Tutorial: Applying a Formula to an Entire Column

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re about to do. Applying a formula to an entire column means you want every cell in that column to perform the same calculation. It could be adding up numbers, finding averages, or anything else you need to do with your data.

Step 1: Input the Formula in the First Cell

Start by clicking on the first cell of the column where you want the formula to go.

Once you have inputted the formula into the first cell, make sure it’s working correctly. Check that it’s giving you the result you expect before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Use the Fill Handle to Apply the Formula

Next, hover over the bottom right corner of the cell until you see a small blue square.

Click and drag this blue square down the column, and your formula will be copied into each cell as you go. This little blue square is called the fill handle, and it’s a real time-saver!

After you’ve applied the formula to the entire column, double-check a few cells to ensure the formula copied correctly. You wouldn’t want any mistakes in your calculations!

What Happens Next?

After completing these steps, every cell in the column will have the same formula applied to it, adjusting for its row number. This means that if your formula in the first cell is referencing another cell, it will update to reference the corresponding cell in each row.

Tips for Applying a Formula to an Entire Column

  • Make sure the formula is correct before dragging it down the column.
  • If you have a header in the first row, start your formula in the second cell.
  • Use absolute references (with $ signs) in your formula if you don’t want certain cell references to change.
  • If you’re working with a long column, double-click the fill handle instead of dragging it to apply the formula to the entire column instantly.
  • Check a few cells after applying the formula to ensure it’s working as expected.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fill handle?

The fill handle is a small blue square in the bottom right corner of a selected cell in Google Sheets. You can use it to copy formulas or data to adjacent cells.

The fill handle is like your little helper in Google Sheets, making it easy to replicate data across multiple cells.

Can I apply a formula to non-adjacent cells?

Yes, you can apply a formula to non-adjacent cells by holding down the Ctrl key (Cmd on Mac) while selecting the cells, then dragging the fill handle.

This method lets you be selective with what cells you want to apply the formula to, giving you more control over your data.

How do I make sure my cell references don’t change when I drag the formula?

To keep cell references the same, use absolute references in your formula by adding a $ sign before the column letter and row number (e.g., $A$1).

By using absolute references, you can ensure your formula stays consistent, no matter where it’s applied.

How can I apply a formula to an entire column if my sheet is very long?

If your sheet has many rows, double-click the fill handle instead of dragging it. This will automatically apply the formula to the entire column.

Using this little trick, you can save a lot of time and avoid a lot of unnecessary scrolling.

Can I use the fill handle to copy formatting as well?

Yes, the fill handle copies both the formula and the cell’s formatting.

So, if you’ve spent time making your first cell look pretty, the fill handle ensures the rest of the column matches perfectly.


  1. Input the formula in the first cell of the column.
  2. Use the fill handle to drag the formula down the column.


Mastering the art of applying a formula to an entire column in Google Sheets can transform you from a spreadsheet novice to a data-crunching pro. Not only does it save you a ton of time, but it also ensures consistency across your calculations. Remember, the secret sauce to efficiency in Google Sheets (or any other spreadsheet software) lies in the little details, like using the fill handle.

After reading this article, you should have all the tools you need to apply formulas like a seasoned spreadsheet wizard. So, next time you’re faced with a daunting column of data, don’t panic. Just remember these steps and tips, and you’ll be on your way to creating error-free, dynamic spreadsheets in no time.

As for what’s next on your Google Sheets journey, consider exploring more advanced formulas, or perhaps dive into the world of macros and scripting for even greater automation. The sky’s the limit once you’ve got these fundamentals down. So go ahead, give it a try and watch your productivity soar!

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