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 Text to Values.

Converting Text to Values

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 20, 2017)

If you are using Excel to massage data imported from another system, you know that often the data needs quite a bit of work. For instance, you might import information that represents a time value, but the data actually ends up being treated by Excel as a text string.

If you find your data in this condition, all is not lost. If you want to convert the text values into actual time values, there are several ways you can accomplish the task. The first is to follow these steps:

  1. Insert a blank column to the right of the data you need to convert.
  2. Just to the right of the first cell that has a text-formatted time value, enter the following formula. Make sure you substitute the address of the cell for A1:
  3.         =VALUE(A1)
  4. Copy the formula down, so that each cell to be converted has the formula to its right.
  5. Select the column in which you just put the formulas.
  6. Press Ctrl+C. This copies the selected information to the Clipboard.
  7. Choose Paste Special from the Edit menu. Excel displays the Paste Special dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  8. Figure 1. The Paste Special dialog box.

  9. Make sure the Values radio button is selected.
  10. Click on OK. All your formulas are replaced with actual values.
  11. Format the column using a desired Time format.
  12. Delete the original text-formatted time column.

Once you get going with this process, it is pretty quick. Not as quick, however, as the following approach:

  1. Select the cells that contain the text-formatted times. If it is an entire column, select the entire column.
  2. Choose Text to Columns from the Data menu. Excel launches the Convert Text to Columns Wizard. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Convert Text to Columns wizard.

  4. Don't worry about any of the settings in the Wizard—your data should be converted just fine with the defaults.
  5. Click on Finish.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2745) 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 Text to 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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