How to Copy Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Copying conditional formatting in Google Sheets can be a real time-saver. If you’ve spent time creating the perfect formatting rules for one set of data, you don’t want to have to do it all over again for another similar set. Luckily, Google Sheets has a straightforward process for copying conditional formatting, and we’re here to walk you through it step by step.

Step by Step Tutorial to Copy Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets

Before we dive in, let’s explain what we’re doing here. We’re going to copy the conditional formatting from one set of cells and apply it to another. This means that all the color-coding, data bars, and other rules you’ve set up will be duplicated elsewhere in your spreadsheet.

Step 1: Select the cell with the conditional formatting

Click on the cell that has the formatting you want to copy.

Selecting the right cell is crucial because it contains the formatting rules you want to transfer. Make sure you’ve clicked on the cell with the actual conditional formatting, not just a cell that is affected by the formatting.

Step 2: Copy the cell

Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C (Command+C on a Mac) or right-click and select ‘Copy.’

This step copies not just the content of the cell, but also the formatting– including any conditional formatting rules.

Step 3: Select the range where you want to apply the formatting

Click and drag to select the cells where you want the copied formatting to be applied.

You can select a contiguous block of cells, a whole row, a whole column, or even non-contiguous cells by holding down the Ctrl or Command key while clicking.

Step 4: Open the ‘Paste Special’ dialog

Right-click on the selected range and choose ‘Paste special’ then select ‘Paste conditional formatting only.’

This command ensures that only the conditional formatting rules are pasted, not the content of the cell or any other formatting.

Step 5: Check your pasted conditional formatting

Double-check that your conditional formatting has been applied as expected.

The conditional formatting should now be in place on the new range of cells, and any data that meets the same conditions will now be formatted accordingly.

After completing these steps, your new set of data will be formatted using the same rules as the original. This means that your data will be easier to read, analyze, and understand at a glance.

Tips for Copying Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets

  • Make sure to copy from a cell that actually has the conditional formatting rules you want to apply.
  • If you want to copy multiple formatting rules, you’ll need to copy from a cell that has all of those rules applied.
  • Remember, you can also use the Format Painter tool for a quick copy and paste of formatting.
  • Be mindful of absolute and relative references in your conditional formatting rules when copying them to a new range.
  • If your formatting doesn’t paste correctly, try clearing all formatting from the target cells before pasting again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I copy conditional formatting to a different sheet?

Yes, you can copy conditional formatting to a different sheet by copying the cell with the formatting and pasting it into the cell range on the other sheet using ‘Paste special.’

What do I do if the formatting doesn’t paste correctly?

Try clearing all existing formatting from the target cells before pasting the conditional formatting. You can do this by selecting the cells, right-clicking, and choosing "Clear formatting."

Can I copy multiple conditional formatting rules at once?

Yes, as long as all the rules are applied to the cell you are copying from, they will all be copied together.

Is it possible to paste conditional formatting without affecting the cell’s content?

Absolutely! Using ‘Paste special’ and selecting ‘Paste conditional formatting only’ ensures that only the formatting is pasted, not the cell content.

Can I use the Format Painter tool for copying conditional formatting?

Yes, the Format Painter tool is another option for quickly copying and applying formatting from one place to another in your sheet.


  1. Select the cell with the conditional formatting.
  2. Copy the cell.
  3. Select the range where you want to apply the formatting.
  4. Open the ‘Paste Special’ dialog.
  5. Check your pasted conditional formatting.


Mastering the art of copying conditional formatting in Google Sheets can significantly improve your productivity. Whether you’re managing a large dataset or trying to present information in a clearer, more visually appealing way, these skills are invaluable. Remember, the key to success here is precision—you need to copy from the exact cell with the desired formatting and be clear about where you are pasting it.

With the step-by-step tutorial provided, you now have a clear roadmap to follow. And, armed with the additional tips and answers to common questions, you’re well-equipped to handle any hiccups along the way.

Conditional formatting is more than just a cosmetic tool—it can help you quickly identify trends, highlight key information, and make data-driven decisions. So, go ahead and give it a try in your next Google Sheets project. Who knows, it might just be the game-changer you’ve been looking for!