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Converting Units

If you are dealing with measurements that must be converted from one measuring system to another, it can be a real bother to look up the formulas and enter them into Excel. For instance, if you had to convert Watts to horsepower, where would you start?

Fortunately, Excel includes a function that will handle many different unit conversions for you. The CONVERT function is part of the Analysis ToolPak, and will handle dozens of conversions. The syntax for the function is as follows:

CONVERT(value, "from", "to")

You simply supply the value you want to convert, along with an abbreviation for the units you are converting from and to. For instance if you wanted to find out the equivalent of 300 BTUs when you convert to calories, you would use the following:

CONVERT(300, "BTU", "c")

The number of different conversions that can be handled by CONVERT is quite impressive, indeed. In fact, the list is so long that it cannot be included here. You can perform conversions in the areas of weight, volume, distance, time, pressure, energy, force, power, magnetism, and a few others. A complete list can be found in the Excel on-line Help system. (Simply search for "CONVERT worksheet function.")

You should note that if the CONVERT function does not work on your system, it means you have not installed or enabled the Analysis ToolPak. To enable it, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Add-Ins from the Tools menu. This displays the Add-Ins dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Add-Ins dialog box.

  3. Make sure the Analysis ToolPak option is selected.
  4. Click on OK.

If you did not see an Analysis ToolPak option in step 2, it means that you did not install the option when you first installed Excel. You can rerun the Excel Setup program and choose to install the option. You must then enable the add-in, and you can use the function.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2630) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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