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: Developing Reciprocal Conversion Formulas.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 27, 2015)
Jeremy posed a problem that is based on two cells, A1 and C1. These cells are designed to contain inches and millimeters, respectively. Jeremy wants a way that someone could enter a value in A1 and it would be converted to millimeters in C1. Conversely, they could enter a value in C1 and it would be converted to inches in A1.
Doing the conversion, of course, isn't the real issue. The problem is that if someone enters a value in A1, that value will overwrite any formula that may be in that cell, and mean that any subsequent value entered in cell C1 would not give the required conversion in the previously overwritten A1.
There are a couple of different ways that this could be approached. If you don't mind expanding your worksheet design to include two more cells, those cells could be used strictly for input and cells A1 and C1 could be used strictly for output. One of the input cells could contain the value to be converted and the other could contain the measurement unit of the input value (in or mm, for instance).
Of course, if you want to really limit yourself to two cells, then you will need to resort to using macros to do the actual conversion. You can use a worksheet event that is triggered every time a cell value is changed, and the event handler could check to see if the cell being changes is either A1 or C1. The following macro gives an example of how this could work:
Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range) Application.EnableEvents = False With ActiveSheet If Target = .[A1] Then .[C1].Value = .[A1].Value * 25.4 ElseIf Target = .[C1] Then .[A1].Value = .[C1].Value / 25.4 End If End With Application.EnableEvents = True End Sub
Note that you don't have to have any formulas in cells A1 or C1; the formulas are in the macro itself. If there is a change in cell A1 (inches are entered by the user), then the value in cell C1 is changed by the macro. Likewise, if there is a change in cell C1 (millimeters are entered by the user), then the value in cell A1 is changed by the macro. A change in any other cell besides A1 or C1 is ignored by the macro.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3277) 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: Developing Reciprocal Conversion Formulas.
Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!
You can easily use formulas to pull apart text stored in a cell. For instance, if you need to pull individual characters ...Discover More
US ZIP Codes can be of two varieties: five-digits or nine-digits. Here's how to convert longer ZIP Codes to the shorter ...Discover More
You know what time it is, right? (Quick—look at your watch.) What if you want to know what time it is in Greenwich, ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.