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Displaying Letter Grades

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: Displaying Letter Grades.

Some teachers use Excel worksheets to calculate grades for students. Doing so is quite easy, as you sum the results of various student benchmarks (quizzes, tests, assignments, etc.) and then apply whatever calculation is necessary to arrive at a final numeric grade.

If you do this, you may wonder how you can convert the numeric grade to a letter grade. For instance, you may have a grading scale defined where anything below 52 is an F, 52 to 63 is a D, 64 to 74 is a C, 75 to 84 is a B, and 85 to 99 is an A.

There are several ways that a problem such as this can be approached. First of all, you could use nested IF functions within a cell. For example, let's assume that a student's numeric grade is in cell G3. You could use the following formula to convert to a letter grade based on the scale shown above:


While such an approach will work just fine, using nested IF functions results in the need to change quite a few formulas if you change your grading scale. A different approach that is also more flexible involves defining a grading table and then using one of the LOOKUP functions (LOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and VLOOKUP) to determine the proper letter grade.

As an example, let's assume that you set up a grading table in cells M3:N7. In cell M3 you place the lowest possible score, which would be a zero. To its right, in cell N3, you place the letter grade for that score: F. In M4 you place the lowest score for the next highest grade (53) and in N4 you place the corresponding letter grade (D). When you are done putting in all five grade levels, you select the range (M3:N7) and give it a name, such as GradeTable. (How you name a range of cells is covered in other issues of ExcelTips.)

Now you can use a formula such as the following to return a letter grade:


The beauty of using one of the LOOKUP functions in this manner is that if you decide to change the grading scale, all you need to do is change the lower boundaries of each grade in the grading table. Excel takes care of the rest and recalculates all the letter grades for your students.

When you put together your grading table, it is also important that you have the grades—those in the GradeTable—go in ascending order, from lowest to highest. Failure to do so will result in the wrong formula results using VLOOKUP.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2611) 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: Displaying Letter Grades.

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Comments for this tip:

Michael (Micky) Avidan    13 May 2016, 05:31
@Chhabi Acharya,
If, in my previous post, I suggested to use VLOOKUP (the linked picture was removed from the host site) this is the time to try: HLOOKUP.
You will find all the needed explanations in Excel's Help.
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)
Chhabi Acharya    09 Feb 2016, 20:30
Dear @Michael (Micky) Avidan,
As I said before, your idea is valuable. In this logic, when the grades are arranged vertically, the values are shown right to them. I have a situation that grades are kept horizontally and the valus are to be shown below them. I tried my best but couldn't succeed. Could you help me plz? (Related to No. B of my first query.)
Chhabi Acharya    07 Feb 2016, 05:07
Related to my previous query:
The first problem was solved using the formula provided in this article. Thank you very much @ Michael Avidan, I saw that your help works well!
Mortuza Khaled    06 Feb 2016, 22:09
Marks Letter GP
99<80 A+ 4
80<75 A 3.75
75<70 A- 3.5
70<65 B+ 3.25
65<60 B 3
60<55 B- 2.75
55<50 C+ 2.5
50<45 C 2.25
45<40 D 2
40<1 F 0
Please Help to convert this spread sheet
Michael (Micky) Avidan    06 Feb 2016, 09:01
@Chhabi Acharya,
Have a look at the attached linked picture:
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)
Chhabi Acharya    05 Feb 2016, 21:52

Hello there!
Could you help me in forming formulae in Ms Excel for the following logics, please?
If 0, N
if 1-19, E
if 20-39, D
if 40-49, C
if 50-59, C+
if 60-69, B
if 70-79, B+
if 80-89, A
if 90 to 100, A+

If A+, 4
If A, 3.6
If B+, 3.2
If B, 2.8
If C+, 2.4
If C, 2.2
If D, 1.8
If E, 1.4
If N, 0

Thanks in advance.
NAssoro    23 Jan 2016, 02:51
It helped me
Dessalegn Geto Mekuria     05 Jun 2015, 06:10
its good technology transfer!
Thomas Papavasiliou    04 May 2015, 07:10
Another approach is to sort data to the global note and do the work manually.
If needed, once grades are given, resort the data to the original form.

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