Loading

Got a version of Excel that uses the
menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)?
**This site is for you!** If you
use a later version of Excel, visit
our *ExcelTips* site focusing on the ribbon interface.

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company.

Learn more about Allen...

ExcelTips FAQ

ExcelTips Resources

Ask an Excel Question

Make a Comment

Free Business Forms

Free Calendars

** 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),

When you enter information in a worksheet, Excel does its best to decipher what type of data you are entering. If your entry can be translated as a number or a date, then Excel treats it that way. You can overcome this natural tendency of Excel by formatting a cell as text *before *entering information in it. When you do, the information in the cell is always treated as text.

Of course, forcing Excel to treat your input as text can have unwanted repercussions later. For instance, you may decide that you want to add up the contents of cells that are formatted as text. If you use a formula such as the following, then Excel has no problem:

=A1 + A2

Excel provides the correct sum, provided at least one of the cells (A1 or A2) was not formatted as text. To make matters tricky, however, if you use the SUM function (which most people do when summing an entire column or row), then you won't get the proper sum. The SUM function ignores any cells formatted as text. How do you get around this?

It is possible to remove the text formatting attribute from the cells you want to sum, but that won't cause Excel to reassess the contents of the cells and treat them as numbers or dates, where appropriate. There are several different ways you can force the conversion of forced text into numeric values, ranging from macros to using formulas in other columns to perform the conversion. The following two solutions, however, seem to be the easiest and quickest.

The first method is accomplished by following these steps:

- Enter the value 1 in an empty cell.
- Select the cell and press
**Ctrl+C**. The value is now in the Clipboard. - Select the range of cells you want to convert to numbers.
- Choose Paste Special from the Edit menu. Excel displays the Paste Special dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
- Make sure the Multiply radio button is selected.
- Click on OK.

** Figure 1.** The Paste Special dialog box.

This works because Excel multiples each cell in the range (step 3) by the value in the Clipboard and then again stores the value in the cell. Since any number multiplied by one is that same number, you effectively force Excel to replace the contents of the cell with the numerical equivalent of the text that was previously there.

If the range you want to convert contains only numbers formatted as text and not any actual text, then the following steps work well:

- Select the range of cells you want to convert to numbers.
- Choose Text to Columns from the Data menu. Excel displays the Convert Text to Columns Wizard. (See Figure 2.)
- Click on Finish.

** Figure 2.** The Convert Text to Columns Wizard.

If you try these three steps on a range of cells that has text containing spaces or tabs, it is possible that you could overwrite data in columns to the right of the selected range. That is why it is safest to use if the range only contains numeric values formatted as text.

*ExcelTips* is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2670) 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: Converting Forced Text to Numbers.

*Related Tips:*

**Program Successfully in Excel!** John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out *Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA* today!

This did not work for me. When I chose paste special I get a box that asks if I want to insert the contents of the clipboard as a unicode text or text. The numbers I am trying to add are transfered to this page by the following formula:

=IF(SLIP!$C5="","",CONCATENATE(" ",SLIP!$C5)).

Slip is the worksheet where the original numbers are located.

Any help would be appreciated.

=IF(SLIP!$C5="","",CONCATENATE(" ",SLIP!$C5)).

Slip is the worksheet where the original numbers are located.

Any help would be appreciated.

OMG Thank you!!!!

I've pressed F2 so. many. times.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I've pressed F2 so. many. times.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Can anyone expound on the following:

I have 10 numbers in a column, originally copy/pasted into Excel as text. When I highlight the column, I get green triangles and the option to "Convert to numbers," which I do, and the green triangles go away.

But the drop-down menu in the Numbers menu still lists them as "General." So I highlight the column again and select Format > Format Cells > Numbers.

So what is the difference? And how does this jibe with the rest of the tips given on this page?

I have 10 numbers in a column, originally copy/pasted into Excel as text. When I highlight the column, I get green triangles and the option to "Convert to numbers," which I do, and the green triangles go away.

But the drop-down menu in the Numbers menu still lists them as "General." So I highlight the column again and select Format > Format Cells > Numbers.

So what is the difference? And how does this jibe with the rest of the tips given on this page?

Select the cells and do Ctrl + Find and under the Replace tab insert , (i.e. comma) in Find field and keep the replace field blank. This will convert all text to numbers.

Your simple method worked, thank you!

For general knowledge.

Knowing that the numbers were typed into a pre-formatted TEXT range (the green dialog window) - there is no problem to ADD them with: SUM.

Assuming H1:H6 were formatted as Text BEFORE(!) typing 6 values - one can use an Array(!) Foruma to SUM those cells.

=SUM(--(H1:H6)) (double minus signs)

have a look here: http://i58.tinypic.com/xd9ykm.png

Michael (Micky) Avidan

“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator

“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2014)

ISRAEL

Knowing that the numbers were typed into a pre-formatted TEXT range (the green dialog window) - there is no problem to ADD them with: SUM.

Assuming H1:H6 were formatted as Text BEFORE(!) typing 6 values - one can use an Array(!) Foruma to SUM those cells.

=SUM(--(H1:H6)) (double minus signs)

have a look here: http://i58.tinypic.com/xd9ykm.png

Michael (Micky) Avidan

“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator

“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2014)

ISRAEL

This just saved me a heck of a lot of time pressing F2 then Enter 2000 times to convert cells to numbers. Thanking you kindly!

Thank you very much! I was basically banging my head against the table until I found your solution to this "feature".

when i need to convert the text file to excel, it is taking some numbers are as text. it is the one great obstacle for calculation. so can anyone tell the right way for doing....

Thanks a lot!!!! It was very helpfull!!

Is there a wat to convert a text credit to an excel negative number?

I am trying to copy and paste lines like this 5/9H 4°/4 2°/2 2/HD 1/H into excel 2007.Each one in it's own cell.I will replace the forward slash with a decimal and delete the circles and letters.When i try to convert them to number like your example,nothing happens!

Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time.

Karen

Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time.

Karen

When I do in a manual way, the first method, everything is o.k., but if I do a macro with the same procedure, is not working. I try the macro in diferentways, but still not working.

So, please help me

So, please help me