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Convert numbers stored as text to numbers

Numbers that are stored as text can cause unexpected results, like an uncalculated formula showing instead of a result. Most of the time, Excel will recognize this and you'll see an alert next to the cell where numbers are being stored as text. If you see the alert, select the cells, and then click Excel Error Alert button to choose a convert option. 

Check out Format numbers to learn more about formatting numbers and text in Excel.

Cells with numbers stored as text with green triangles

If the alert button is not available, do the following:

1. Select a column

Selected column

Select a column with this problem. If you don't want to convert the whole column, you can select one or more cells instead. Just be sure the cells you select are in the same column, otherwise this process won't work. (See "Other ways to convert" below if you have this problem in more than one column.)

2. Click this button

Data tab, Text to Columns button

The Text to Columns button is typically used for splitting a column, but it can also be used to convert a single column of text to numbers. On the Data tab, click Text to Columns.

3. Click Apply

The rest of the Text to Columns wizard steps are best for splitting a column. Since you're just converting text in a column, you can click Finish right away, and Excel will convert the cells.

4. Set the format

Currency format selected

Press CTRL + 1 (or Image of the MAC Command button icon + 1 on the Mac). Then select any format.

Note: If you still see formulas that are not showing as numeric results, then you may have Show Formulas turned on. Go to the Formulas tab and make sure Show Formulas is turned off.

Other ways to convert:

You can use the VALUE function to return just the numeric value of the text.

1. Insert a new column

New column next to text numbers

Insert a new column next to the cells with text. In this example, column E contains the text stored as numbers. Column F is the new column.

2. Use the VALUE function

Cell F23 with formula: =VALUE(E23) and result of 107.71

In one of the cells of the new column, type =VALUE() and inside the parentheses, type a cell reference that contains text stored as numbers. In this example it's cell E23.

3. Rest your cursor here

Cursor resting on lower-right corner of cell

Now you'll fill the cell's formula down, into the other cells. If you've never done this before, here's how to do it: Rest your cursor on the lower-right corner of the cell until it changes to a plus sign.

4. Click and drag down

Cursor dragged down, cells filled with formula

Click and drag down to fill the formula to the other cells. After that's done, you can use this new column, or you can copy and paste these new values to the original column. Here's how to do that: Select the cells with the new formula. Press CTRL + C. Click the first cell of the original column. Then on the Home tab, click the arrow below Paste, and then click Paste Special > Values.

If the steps above didn't work, you can use this method, which can be used if you're trying to convert more than one column of text.

  1. Select a blank cell that doesn't have this problem, type the number 1 into it, and then press Enter.

  2. Press CTRL + C to copy the cell.

  3. Select the cells that have numbers stored as text.

  4. On the Home tab, click Paste > Paste Special.

  5. Click Multiply, and then click OK. Excel multiplies each cell by 1, and in doing so, converts the text to numbers.

  6. Press CTRL + 1 (or Image of the MAC Command button icon + 1 on the Mac). Then select any format.

Related topics

Replace a formula with its result
Top ten ways to clean your data
CLEAN function

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