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: Converting Imported Information to Numeric Values.

Converting Imported Information to Numeric Values

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 12, 2015)

Garrett asked if there was a way to quickly convert text data to numerical data. He is importing a text file that uses spaces in the thousands place (1 256) instead of a comma (1,256).

There are several ways to approach this problem. The first is to understand the source of the problem. The text file is probably created on a system that is following a metric standard. Some countries, following the metric standard, use a space for a thousands separator instead of a comma. Thus, you could import the file properly into Excel if you change your regional settings in Windows before starting Excel and doing the import. You can change the regional settings by using the Regional Options applet in the Control Panel.

If you don't want to change the regional settings on your system, there are other approaches you can take. After Excel imports the information, you can select the range of cells that contain numbers and simply do a search and replace. You are searching for a single space and replacing it with nothing. This does away with the space completely, and Excel will then treat the contents of the cell as a number.

You can also use a formula, if desired, to modify the imported data. For instance, if the imported number (containing a space) is in cell A3, you could use this formula to strip out the space:

=1*SUBSTITUTE(A3," ","")

Note that there is a space between the first set of quotes and nothing between the second set of quotes.

If you have quite a bit of data to convert, or if you have text interspersed with the "numbers-only" cells, then you may decide to use a macro to do the conversion. The following macro works on a selection you make before calling it. It also checks to make sure that the cell—after removing the spaces—contains a numeric value. If it doesn't, then no conversion is done.

Sub ClearSpacesIfNumeric()
    Dim c As Range 'Cell under examination
    Dim tmpText As String 'Cell contents without spaces
    Dim i As Integer 'Simple counter

    For Each c In Selection
        tmpText = "" 'Initialize

        'Check each character to see if it's a space
        'If it isn't, add it to tmpText
        For i = 1 To Len(c.Text)
            If Mid(c.Text, i, 1) <> " " Then
                tmpText = tmpText & Mid(c.Text, i, 1)
            End If
        Next i

        'tmpText is now the cell contents without spaces
        'If tmpText is a number, assign its value to
        'the current cell
        If IsNumeric(tmpText) Then
            c.Value = tmpText
        End If
    Next c
End Sub

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2248) 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 Imported Information to Numeric Values.

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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