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Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Working in Feet and Inches.
If you work in one of the construction trades, you may wonder if there is a way to have Excel work in feet and inches. The answer, of course, is yes and no. (How's that for specific?)
Let's look at the "no" answer first. If you are looking for a way to make Excel do things like math using feet and inches, there is no native ability to do that. In other words, you can't tell Excel to consider a column as "feet and inches" and then have it automatically add a set of cells containing lineal feet. A quick search of the Internet reveals that there are a number of Excel add-ins that you can find—some for free—that will do real math for feet and inches. These, of course, would require learning exactly how to use them to achieve what you want. The following site was among those suggested by different ExcelTips subscribers:
Now for the "yes" portion of the answer. You can, of course, use separate columns for feet and inches. In this way it is relatively easy to add the values in the columns—one would simply be the sum of feet, and the other the sum of inches. Since the sum of the inches would most likely exceed 12, you could, in a different cell, adjust the finished feet and inches as necessary.
Another approach is to simply work in inches, which is the lowest common denominator. For instance, if you had a length of 5 feet 6 inches, you would put the value 66 in a cell. You could then do any number of math functions on these values. In another cell you could use a formula, such as the following, to display an inches-only value as feet and inches:
=INT(A1/12) & " ft. " & MOD(A1,12) & " in."
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2036) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Working in Feet and Inches.
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