How to Apply a Formula to an Entire Column in Google Sheets

Learning how to apply a formula to an entire column in Google Sheets is a simple task that can save you time and headaches. Just click on the cell where you want your formula, type it in, and then drag the fill handle (the little blue square at the bottom-right of the cell) down the column to apply the formula to all cells. Voila! All cells in the column now have the formula applied to them.

After completing this action, every cell in the Google sheet column will now display the results of the formula. If the formula references other cells, those references will adjust relative to each row, making it easy to perform calculations across an entire dataset with just a few clicks.


Google Sheets is a powerful tool for organizing and analyzing data. Whether you’re a student crunching numbers for a project, a small business owner keeping track of inventory, or a data analyst examining trends, knowing how to apply a formula to an entire column can be a game-changer. This skill can help you automate calculations, save time, and reduce the likelihood of errors that can occur when manually entering formulas.

But why is this so important? Imagine you’ve got a list of sales figures and you want to add tax to each one. Without using this function, you’d have to manually enter the formula for each cell in the column. Now, that’s a tedious task that no one wants to do! By applying a formula to entire columns at once, you can do all that in a single swoop. This trick is relevant to anyone who uses Google Sheets and wants to become more efficient in managing their data.

Related: How to Show Formulas in Google Sheets

Step by Step Tutorial: Applying a Formula to an Entire Column in Google Sheets

In the following steps, you’ll learn how to apply a formula to an entire column in Google Sheets quickly and efficiently. Note that this will apply the same formula to all of the selected cells. Additionally, cell references will update accordingly based on any included in the first cell.

Step 1: Select the cell for the formula

Click on the cell where you want to start your formula.

This will be the cell in the column that you want to apply the formula to. Make sure it’s the right one because this will be the basis for the other cells in the column.

Step 2: Enter the formula

Type the formula you want to apply into the selected cell.

Remember to start your formula with an equals sign (=). For example, if you want to add 10 to each number in the column, you would type =A2+10, assuming A2 is the cell you selected in step 1.

Step 3: Use the fill handle

Drag the fill handle down the column.

The fill handle is the small blue square at the bottom-right corner of the selected cell. Click and drag it down to cover all the cells in the column where you want the formula applied.

Step 4: Release the fill handle

Let go of the fill handle once you’ve reached the bottom of the column.

As you drag the fill handle down, you’ll notice that the cells are being filled with the formula. When you’ve covered all the cells you want, simply release the mouse button or lift your finger if you’re using a touch screen.


Time-savingBy applying a formula to an entire column, you save a significant amount of time compared to manually entering the formula into each cell.
AccuracyIt reduces the risk of errors that can happen when formulas are entered by hand.
Dynamic referencesFormulas applied to a column automatically adjust their references based on each cell’s position, ensuring calculations are always relevant.


Learning curveSome users might find it challenging to learn how to apply formulas correctly.
Potential for mistakesIf the initial formula is incorrect, the mistake will be replicated across the entire column.
Dependence on formulasOver-reliance on formulas can lead to trouble if the data structure changes and the formulas are not updated accordingly.

Additional Information

When working with Google Sheets, applying a formula to an entire column is a fundamental skill that can streamline your workflow. However, it’s important to note that this function is not just a one-trick pony. You can also apply formulas to a row, or even a range of cells, following similar steps. One key tip is to ensure that your formulas are referencing the correct cells before dragging the fill handle. A common mistake is to use absolute references (like $A$2) instead of relative references (like A2), which can lead to incorrect calculations when the formula is applied to the entire column.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Google Sheets will try to be helpful by guessing the pattern of your data. For example, if you’re filling dates or days of the week, it will auto-fill the subsequent cells with the next dates or days. While this feature can be handy, it can also lead to unexpected results, so always double-check that the formulas and data have been filled in as intended.


  1. Select the cell for the formula
  2. Enter the formula
  3. Use the fill handle
  4. Release the fill handle

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I want to apply a formula to non-adjacent cells?

You can hold down the Ctrl key (Cmd on Mac) while clicking on each cell you want to include. Then, enter the formula and use the fill handle as usual.

Can I apply a formula to an entire column if there’s already data in some cells?

Yes, you can. The formula will overwrite any existing data in the cells you drag over, so make sure that’s what you want to do.

What happens if I drag the fill handle upwards or to the side?

The formula will be applied to those cells as well, relative to their position.

Can I use this method to apply a formula to an entire row?

Absolutely! Just drag the fill handle to the right instead of down.

Is there a limit to how many cells I can apply a formula to?

Technically, no, but performance may slow down if you’re applying a formula to a very large number of cells.


Mastering how to apply a formula to an entire column in Google Sheets is like unlocking a superpower that can save you time, increase accuracy, and make data management a breeze. It’s a skill that’s essential for anyone who regularly works with spreadsheets, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. So, give it a try, experiment with different formulas, and watch your productivity soar! Remember, the key is to start with a correct formula and use relative references to ensure the formula adapts correctly to each cell in the column. Keep practicing, and soon enough, you’ll be a Google Sheets wizard!

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