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.

Working In Feet and Inches

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 28, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


9

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:

http://lacher.com/examples/lacher18.htm

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.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

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. ...

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What is two less than 3?

2022-10-27 14:25:35

Herb

Having used the hint here to format a value such as 45.6 in feet and inches, I got to wondering how to show fractional inches as a fraction, rather than a decimal. That is, how to turn 45.6 into 3' 9 3/8"?

This is one rather awkward solution, but it serves to demonstrate:
=TRUNC(O5/12) & "' " & TRUNC(MOD(O5,12)) & " " & TEXT(MOD(O5, 12) - TRUNC(MOD(O5, 12)),"0/7") & """"

Using 45.6 inches to demonstrate, the first TRUNC serves to calculate whole feet (3). The first MOD returns inches modulo 12, 9.6. It was a little disconcerting to see mod return a fraction, but on a moment's reflection, it makes sense. TRUNC turns it into 9. The third trunc gets us 9.6again, the fourth gets rid of the whole 9, leaving 0.6.

Finally the real trick, formatting 0.6 as sevenths with, in effect, text(0.6, "0/7"). I've found nothing documenting the format string "0/7", but deduced it by selecting the inbuilt format for eighths, then looking at the result in the "custom" format. I picked sevenths just to see if generalizing the 0/8 worked, and it did. Using "0/8" would be more reasonable, but wouldn't serve to illustrate the generality.

Thanks again to Microsoft for not documenting the fraction format string. And if they did, where did they hide it? And thanks to R Reagan for opposing adaptation of the far more reasonable SI system, leaving us with this absurd notation because he thought he'd be forced to watch a football game from the 50-meter line.


2022-10-27 13:19:05

Herb

I searched expecting to find some in-built way to do this. I see there isn't any.

It's nuts that after 40 years, Excel has none. Instead, MS has spent time and money changing File Save to direct us first and most easily to their more profitable cloud storage. Excel is good enough, and complex enough, that it is difficult to build a competitor, and entrenched enough that MS can safely continue to milk it without improving it.

Javascript has evolved immensely in 25 years, and 25 year old JS code will still run in ES6. Has Excel's VBA changed at all in that time?

Nonetheless, thanks for maintaining this site. It's very helpful.


2021-12-21 17:21:38

DR

Thanks I found this useful. I modified the formula to work for a study that involved differences between ceiling heights and needed to work for negative values. This was my version: =IF(A1>=0,INT(M4/12)&" ft. "&MOD(A1,12)&" in.",CEILING.MATH(A1/12)&" ft. "&-MOD(ABS(A1),12)&" in.")


2021-02-17 11:18:53

TONY

Please, feel free to delete this comment.

With all due respect...

The word is "linear"..."not lineal."

They are not interchangeable.

Thank you for the tips.


2020-11-11 21:10:44

gerald

This works fine until you have a case where inches is 11.98 (or so) and then you only want to display one decimal place.
You are then left with the unconventional x ft 12 in.


2018-01-16 13:53:53

Thomas

Is there a way to set a custom format for cells? If I input a value in inches, that it would show the value in feet'-inches" (like in your example above, input 66 and it show as 5'-6")?

I'd rather not have to input a number in one cell and have another cell have to calculate it. Just be able to input the number in one cell and have it show the way I want it to......


2017-03-06 01:09:07

Dan Ashby

Good work Allen.

I appreciate that the main point of your post is to provide an alternative to an Excel Macro, and agree with the method you give.

I thought I'd just point out that John's User Defined Function works great, but uses Bankers Rounding, so it can give unexpected results when rounding values. I've contacted him so he'll likely revise this in the near future.

In the interim I've made a revised function that avoids this issue which can be downloaded here:
https://engineerstoolkit.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/dealing-with-feet-and-inches-in-excel/

Incidentally there's another similar function that I believe was written by Bill Jellen at the link below, but this also has similar issues with rounding, and doesn't have the same functionality, so just be aware of this:
http://www.mrexcel.com/articles/excel-feet-to-inches.php

Hopefully one day we'll ALL move the the metric system though so that we can do away with this sort of frustration! :)


2016-06-22 10:10:46

C.D.VIJAYAKUMAR

I want to calculate below in excel suggest me correct formula
nos - 3
length - 10'5""
breath - 7'7"

Area is 23.69508 sqft if calculate manually

In excel format how we could do

Please give correct solution the above email id


2016-03-07 11:31:06

JMJ

Think metric! :-)


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