Get Access to World’s largest Template Library & Tools

How to Stop Excel from Changing Numbers to Dates


Microsoft Excel often auto-converts number sequences into dates, a feature that can disrupt your data’s accuracy and presentation. Learn practical tips to keep your numbers intact, ensuring your spreadsheets remain accurate and tailored to your specific needs.

How to Stop Excel from Changing Numbers to Dates

 

In Microsoft Excel, unintended changes of numbers to dates can complicate data analysis and record-keeping. Follow these straightforward steps to prevent Excel from automatically converting your numerical data into dates.

  • Step 1. Format Cells as Text Before Entry

    step 1 format cells as text before entry

    Begin by selecting the cell or range of cells where you plan to enter numerical data that you do not want Excel to interpret as dates. Right-click on your selection, choose “Format Cells” from the context menu, and under the “Number” tab, select “Text.” This action tells Excel to treat your input as text, even if it resembles a date.

  • Step 2. Precede Your Entry with an Apostrophe

    If you’re entering data on the fly, you can prevent Excel from changing your numbers into dates by starting your entry with an apostrophe (‘), such as (‘4-7) or (’12/34). Excel will treat the entry as text and the apostrophe will not be displayed in your cell once you press “Enter.” This method is quick and effective for individual entries.

  • Step 3. Use the Text Import Wizard for Bulk Data

    When importing data from a file, use the Text Import Wizard to control how Excel formats the information. Start the import process and when the wizard opens, select the column containing your numerical data. Choose “Text” as the column’s data format. This prevents Excel from auto-formatting numbers into dates during the import process.

  • Step 4. Change the Default Date System

    If your data includes ambiguous date formats (e.g., ’01-02-03′), Excel’s interpretation depends on its default date system setting. Access this setting via “File” > “Options” > “Advanced,” and scroll down to the “When calculating this workbook” section. Here, you can change the date system between 1900 and 1904. This adjustment might not stop the conversion, but it can alter how Excel interprets dates, which could be beneficial in certain contexts.

  • Step 5. Use the TEXT Function for Specific Formatting

    To display numbers exactly as you wish without Excel interpreting them as dates, use the TEXT function. For example, if you enter “=TEXT(“407”, “0-0″)” in a cell, Excel will display the number (407) as (4-07) but will recognize it as text. This method is particularly useful for maintaining specific formats in your spreadsheet without altering the underlying data.

You may also find valuable insights in the following articles offering tips for Microsoft Excel:

note iconNote

Unlock Your Productivity with Over 100,000 Microsoft Excel Templates! Exclusively Available at Template.net – Download Now and Transform Your Data Handling Experience!

FAQs

Why does Excel automatically change numbers to dates?

Excel automatically formats numbers as dates to guess the type of data you’re entering and make it more readable.

How can I prevent Excel from formatting numbers as dates?

Set the cell format to “Text” before entering your numbers to prevent automatic date formatting.

What should I do if Excel has already changed a number to a date?

Reformat the cell to “Text” and re-enter the number, starting with an apostrophe (‘) to keep it as text.

Can I stop Excel from changing numbers to dates when importing data?

Yes, use the Text Import Wizard and specify the data type as “Text” for the affected columns during the import process.

Is there a quick way to format multiple cells to stop automatic date conversion?

Select the range of cells, right-click, choose “Format Cells,” and set the format to “Text” to apply it to all selected cells.

More in Excel

How to Make Comparison Charts in Microsoft ExcelHow to Code in Microsoft Excel
How to Write a Paragraph in Microsoft ExcelHow to Find on Microsoft Excel
How to Select All Rows in Microsoft ExcelHow to Create a Weekly Schedule in Microsoft Excel
How To Add 2 Columns in Microsoft ExcelHow to Export Microsoft Excel to PDF
How to Add Vertical Lines in an Excel GraphHow to Wrap a Cell in Microsoft Excel
How to Add Dates in Microsoft Excel AutomaticallyHow to Create a Flowchart in Microsoft Excel
How to Change the Y Axis in Microsoft ExcelHow to Add Cells Together in Microsoft Excel
How to Switch Axes in Microsoft ExcelHow to Compare Two Tabs in Microsoft Excel
How to Make a Scatter Plot on Microsoft ExcelHow to Remove Autofilter in Microsoft Excel
How to Do a Line Graph in Microsoft ExcelHow to Convert Date to Month in Microsoft Excel
How to Make a Balance Sheet in Microsoft ExcelHow to Refresh Microsoft Excel Formulas
How to Do a Histogram in Microsoft ExcelHow to Change the Microsoft Excel Theme
How to Learn Microsoft Excel for FreeHow to Create Address Labels in Microsoft Excel
How to Sort a Table in Microsoft ExcelHow to Find the Mean, Median, and Mode in Microsoft Excel
How to Sum Random Cells in Microsoft ExcelHow to Add a Whole Column in Microsoft Excel
How to Make a Copy of a Microsoft Excel WorkbookHow to Subtract a Column in Microsoft Excel
How to Remove Parentheses in Microsoft ExcelHow to Fix Rows in Microsoft Excel
How to Make a Timesheet in Microsoft ExcelHow to Create a Flow Chart in Microsoft Excel
How to Make Square Cells in Microsoft ExcelHow to Apply a Filter in Microsoft Excel
How to Insert a Note in Microsoft ExcelHow to Make a Graph in Microsoft Excel With Data
How to Create a Sparkline in Microsoft ExcelHow to Set Margins in Microsoft Excel
How to Copy Filtered Data in Microsoft ExcelHow to Set Default Font in Microsoft Excel
How to Edit Footer in Microsoft ExcelHow to Unhide All Sheets in Microsoft Excel
How to Get Rid of Spaces in Microsoft ExcelHow to Calculate Columns in Microsoft Excel
How to Change a Formula to a Value in Microsoft ExcelHow to Flip Rows and Columns in Microsoft Excel
How to Make a Box in Microsoft ExcelHow to Use NPV in Microsoft Excel
How to Make a List of Numbers in Microsoft ExcelHow to Make a Sensitivity Table in Microsoft Excel
How to Keep 0 in Front of a Number in Microsoft ExcelHow to Do an Absolute Reference in Microsoft Excel
How to Put a Drop Down in Microsoft ExcelHow to Change a Negative Number to Positive in Excel
How to Combine Tables in Microsoft ExcelHow to Highlight Blank Cells in Microsoft Excel
How to Save a Macro in Microsoft ExcelHow to Sort by Month in Microsoft Excel
How to Do a Percentage Increase in Microsoft ExcelHow to Apply Filter in Microsoft Excel
How to Delete Multiple Sheets in Microsoft ExcelHow to Create a Slicer in Microsoft Excel
How to Turn Microsoft Excel Data Into a GraphHow to Move a Page Break in Microsoft Excel
How to Clear Table Format in Microsoft ExcelHow to Extract the Year From a Date in Microsoft Excel
How to Do a Bar Graph in Microsoft ExcelHow to Change Theme in Microsoft Excel
How to Calculate Cells in Microsoft ExcelHow to Label X and Y Axis on Microsoft Excel
How to Change Print Area in Microsoft ExcelHow to Add 2 Cells in Microsoft Excel
How to Write Vertically in Microsoft ExcelHow to Display All Formulas in Microsoft Excel
How to Change the Chart Style in Microsoft ExcelHow to Enter Bullet Points in Microsoft Excel
How to Change a Microsoft Excel File from Read OnlyHow to Show the Ribbon in Microsoft Excel
How to Make a Clustered Column Chart in ExcelHow to See Duplicates in Microsoft Excel
How to Trim in Microsoft ExcelHow to Do a Scatter Plot in Microsoft Excel
How to Switch Cells in Microsoft ExcelHow to Calculate Workdays in Microsoft Excel
How to Make a Macro in Microsoft ExcelHow to Create a Sensitivity Table in Microsoft Excel
How to Calculate a Percentage in Microsoft ExcelHow to Freeze 2 Rows in Microsoft Excel
How to Import a File Into Microsoft ExcelHow to Email a Microsoft Excel Sheet
How to Create Labels in Word From Microsoft ExcelHow to Auto-Adjust Row Height in Microsoft Excel
How to Combine Tabs in Microsoft ExcelHow to Wrap Text in a Microsoft Excel Cell
How to Autofill the Date in Microsoft ExcelHow to Fix a Circular Reference in Microsoft Excel
bottom banner