# How to convert symbols to numbers in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

## Introduction

As any Excel user knows, accurate data analysis is crucial for making informed decisions. However, when your data contains symbols instead of numbers, it can throw a wrench into your analysis. Understanding the process of converting symbols to numbers in Excel is essential for maintaining the integrity of your data. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the importance of converting symbols to numbers and identify the common symbols that can impact your data analysis.

## Key Takeaways

• Converting symbols to numbers in Excel is crucial for accurate data analysis and informed decision-making.
• Common symbols in Excel, such as "-", "%", and "\$", can impact data analysis and need to be converted.
• Understanding the meaning and significance of each symbol is important for proper interpretation of data.
• Situations where symbol conversion becomes necessary include calculations, sorting, filtering, and charting.
• By using built-in Excel functions and custom formulas, symbols can be converted to numbers effectively.

## Understanding the symbols in Excel

In Excel, symbols are used to represent specific functions or actions within a worksheet. Understanding these symbols and their meanings is essential for utilizing the full functionality of Excel. In this chapter, we will provide a comprehensive list of common symbols found in Excel and explain their meanings and significance.

### A. List of common symbols found in Excel

• + (Plus Symbol)
• - (Minus Symbol)
• * (Asterisk Symbol)
• / (Forward Slash Symbol)
• = (Equal Symbol)
• % (Percent Symbol)
• & (Ampersand Symbol)
• \$ (Dollar Symbol)
• ( ) (Parentheses Symbols)
• { } (Curly Braces Symbols)
• [ ] (Square Brackets Symbols)

### B. Explanation of the meaning and significance of each symbol

1. + (Plus Symbol): This symbol is used for addition in Excel. It allows you to calculate the sum of multiple values by simply adding them together using the formula "=A1+B1".

2. - (Minus Symbol): This symbol is used for subtraction in Excel. It enables you to subtract one value from another using the formula "=A1-B1".

3. * (Asterisk Symbol): This symbol is used for multiplication in Excel. It allows you to multiply two or more values together using the formula "=A1*B1".

4. / (Forward Slash Symbol): This symbol is used for division in Excel. It enables you to divide one value by another using the formula "=A1/B1".

5. = (Equal Symbol): This symbol is used to start a formula in Excel. It indicates to Excel that the following characters are part of a calculation to be performed.

6. % (Percent Symbol): This symbol is used to represent a percentage in Excel. It allows you to convert a decimal value to a percentage and vice versa. For example, multiplying a value by 100 followed by the "%" symbol will display it as a percentage.

7. & (Ampersand Symbol): This symbol is used for concatenation in Excel. It allows you to combine multiple values or text strings into a single cell using the formula "=A1&B1".

8. \$ (Dollar Symbol): This symbol is often used as a currency symbol in Excel. It can be added to a cell reference or value to indicate that it represents a monetary amount.

9. ( ) (Parentheses Symbols): These symbols are used to group and control the order of operations in Excel formulas. They can be used to force a specific calculation sequence.

10. { } (Curly Braces Symbols): These symbols are used in Excel arrays. Arrays allow you to perform calculations on multiple cells simultaneously by enclosing them within these symbols.

11. [ ] (Square Brackets Symbols): These symbols are used for cell references in external workbooks or ranges within named ranges. They provide a way to refer to cells outside the current worksheet.

By understanding the meanings and significance of these symbols, you can efficiently perform calculations, manipulate data, and create powerful formulas in Excel. Mastering the use of these symbols will enhance your productivity and enable you to unlock the full potential of Microsoft Excel.

## Identifying the Need for Symbol Conversion

Symbol conversion, or the process of converting symbols into numbers, is a crucial step when working with data in Excel. While Excel is primarily designed for numerical calculations, it is common to encounter situations where symbols are mistakenly included within numeric data. Ignoring or miscalculating these symbols can lead to inaccurate results and flawed analysis. In this chapter, we will explore the need for symbol conversion and how it can be achieved in Excel.

### A. Discuss Situations Where Symbol Conversion Becomes Necessary

In various scenarios, it becomes necessary to convert symbols to numbers in Excel. Here are a few situations where symbol conversion may be required:

• Imported Data: When importing data from external sources, such as databases or text files, there may be instances where symbols are mistakenly included within numeric values. In such cases, symbol conversion is necessary to ensure the integrity of the data.
• User Input: If users manually enter data into an Excel spreadsheet, errors or inconsistencies may occur. Symbols, such as currency symbols or percentage signs, might be mistakenly added to numeric values. Symbol conversion helps in eliminating these errors.
• Formulas and Functions: Excel formulas and functions require numerical data to perform calculations accurately. If symbols are present within the data used in formulas and functions, the results may be incorrect. Symbol conversion ensures that calculations are based on accurate numeric values.

### B. Highlight the Potential Issues Caused by Symbols in Number-Based Calculations

The presence of symbols within numeric data can create a range of issues when performing calculations in Excel. Some of these issues include:

• Incorrect Calculation Results: When symbols are included in number-based calculations in Excel, the formulas or functions may not recognize them as valid numbers. As a result, the calculations performed will be inaccurate, leading to incorrect results.
• Error Messages: Excel provides error messages, such as #VALUE! or #NUM!, when attempting to perform calculations with symbols. These error messages indicate that the formulas or functions encountered symbols instead of numbers, resulting in calculation failures.
• Data Sorting and Filtering: Symbols within numeric data can disrupt the sorting and filtering capabilities of Excel. This can make it challenging to organize and analyze data effectively, especially when symbols are mixed with numbers in a column or range.
• Data Visualization: Symbols within numeric data may hinder the creation of accurate charts, graphs, or other visual representations of data. This can impede effective data visualization and make it difficult to convey information clearly.

## Step 1: Preparing the data for conversion

Before converting symbols to numbers in Excel, it is crucial to organize the data properly. This step will ensure a smooth conversion process and accurate results. In this chapter, we will explain the importance of organizing data and provide tips on identifying the cells containing symbols.

### A. Explain the importance of organizing data before conversion

Organizing data before conversion is essential as it helps maintain data integrity and prevents errors during the conversion process. When data is organized, it becomes easier to identify and manipulate specific cells or ranges for conversion. Additionally, organized data allows for easier analysis and interpretation of the converted numeric values.

When you have unorganized data, it can lead to various issues such as:

• Misinterpretation of symbols, leading to incorrect conversion results.
• Difficulty in identifying cells containing symbols, which can slow down the conversion process.
• Potential confusion and errors during subsequent data analysis or calculations.

To avoid these issues, it is important to spend some time organizing the data before attempting the conversion. This includes identifying the specific cells or ranges that contain symbols.

### B. Provide tips on identifying the cells containing symbols

Identifying the cells that contain symbols is crucial for an efficient conversion process. Here are some tips to help you identify these cells:

• Visual inspection: Take a close look at your data and scan for any cells that contain symbols. Symbols are typically non-alphanumeric characters such as !, @, #, \$, %, ^, &, *, (, ), etc. These characters are commonly used as placeholders or indicators in data entry.
• Filtering and sorting: Utilize the powerful filtering and sorting capabilities in Excel to narrow down your search. You can filter or sort the data based on specific criteria, such as symbols, to quickly identify the cells containing them.
• Conditional formatting: Apply conditional formatting to highlight cells that contain symbols. This feature allows you to define rules that will automatically format cells meeting certain criteria. For example, you can set up a rule to highlight cells that contain specific symbols with a different font color.
• Formulas and functions: Utilize Excel's formulas and functions to identify cells containing symbols. For example, you can use the FIND or SEARCH function to search for specific symbols within a cell or range. If a symbol is found, the function will return a numerical value, indicating the position of the symbol.

By employing these tips, you will be better equipped to identify the cells containing symbols in your Excel data. Once identified, you can proceed to the next steps of converting symbols to numbers, which will be covered in subsequent chapters.

## Step 2: Using built-in Excel functions for conversion

Once you have identified the symbols that need to be converted to numbers in your Excel sheet, you can leverage the powerful built-in functions provided by Excel to perform the conversion. These functions are designed to handle a wide range of data types and can easily convert symbols to numbers. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the different functions available for symbol conversion and provide detailed instructions on how to use each function.

### A. Introduce the different functions available for symbol conversion

Excel offers several functions that can be used to convert symbols to numbers. Each function has its own unique purpose and usage. Here are some commonly used functions for symbol conversion:

• VALUE: This function converts a text string that represents a number into a numeric value. It is particularly useful for converting symbols that are represented as text into their numeric equivalents.
• NUMBERVALUE: Similar to the VALUE function, NUMBERVALUE also converts a text string into a numeric value. However, it provides additional flexibility by allowing you to specify the decimal and group separators used in the text string.
• UNICODE: This function returns the Unicode value of the first character in a text string. It is especially useful when dealing with symbols that have Unicode representations.
• CODE: CODE function returns the numeric Unicode value of the first character in a text string. It is similar to the UNICODE function but does not require the symbol to have a Unicode representation.

### B. Provide step-by-step instructions for using each function

Here, we will demonstrate how to use each of these functions to convert symbols to numbers:

1. Using the VALUE function:
• Select the cell where you want to display the converted number.
• Enter the formula "=VALUE(cell_reference)" in the selected cell, replacing "cell_reference" with the reference to the cell containing the symbol you want to convert.
• Press Enter to apply the formula and convert the symbol to a number.

2. Using the NUMBERVALUE function:
• Select the cell where you want to display the converted number.
• Enter the formula "=NUMBERVALUE(cell_reference, decimal_separator, group_separator)" in the selected cell, replacing "cell_reference" with the reference to the cell containing the symbol, "decimal_separator" with the symbol used as the decimal separator in the text string, and "group_separator" with the symbol used as the group separator in the text string.
• Press Enter to apply the formula and convert the symbol to a number.

3. Using the UNICODE function:
• Select the cell where you want to display the Unicode value.
• Enter the formula "=UNICODE(cell_reference)" in the selected cell, replacing "cell_reference" with the reference to the cell containing the symbol.
• Press Enter to apply the formula and retrieve the Unicode value of the symbol.

4. Using the CODE function:
• Select the cell where you want to display the Unicode value.
• Enter the formula "=CODE(cell_reference)" in the selected cell, replacing "cell_reference" with the reference to the cell containing the symbol.
• Press Enter to apply the formula and retrieve the Unicode value of the symbol.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can easily convert symbols to numbers in Excel using the built-in functions. These functions provide a quick and efficient way to perform symbol conversion and enhance the functionality of your Excel spreadsheets.

## Step 3: Using custom formulas for advanced symbol conversion

In some cases, the built-in functions in Excel may not provide the necessary flexibility or accuracy required for symbol conversion. This is where creating custom formulas can be a valuable tool.

### A. Explain situations where built-in functions may not be sufficient

• Complex symbol conversion: Built-in functions in Excel are designed to handle basic symbol conversions, such as converting currency symbols or percentages. However, if you need to convert symbols that are not supported by these functions, such as special characters or mathematical symbols, custom formulas are required.
• Specific formatting requirements: In some cases, the built-in functions may not provide the precise formatting options needed for symbol conversion. Custom formulas allow for more control over the formatting and can be tailored to meet specific requirements.
• Multiple symbol conversions: If you need to convert multiple symbols at once or perform complex calculations involving symbol conversion, built-in functions may not be sufficient. Custom formulas can be created to handle these scenarios and provide more flexibility in the conversion process.

### B. Discuss the process of creating custom formulas for symbol conversion

The process of creating custom formulas for symbol conversion involves the following steps:

1. Identify the symbols: Determine the symbols that need to be converted and make a list of them. This will help in understanding the scope of the conversion process.
2. Define the conversion logic: Analyze the desired output format for each symbol and determine the rules for the conversion. This may involve replacing symbols with specific numbers or applying mathematical operations.
3. Write the formula: Use Excel's formula language to create a custom formula that implements the conversion logic. This may include utilizing functions such as SUBSTITUTE, REPLACE, or IF, among others.
4. Test and refine the formula: Apply the custom formula to a sample set of data and verify that the symbol conversion is accurately performed. Make any necessary adjustments to the formula to ensure its effectiveness.
5. Apply the formula to the entire dataset: Once the custom formula is finalized, apply it to the entire dataset to convert all the symbols according to the defined logic. This can be done using Excel's autofill feature or by copying the formula to the desired range.

By following these steps, you can create and utilize custom formulas to perform advanced symbol conversion in Excel. This allows for greater flexibility and accuracy when dealing with symbols that are not easily converted using the built-in functions.

## Conclusion

In conclusion, converting symbols to numbers in Excel is a crucial step in ensuring accurate calculations and analysis. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this blog post, you can easily convert symbols such as dollar signs or percentage signs into numerical values within your Excel spreadsheet. This will not only facilitate data manipulation and calculation but also enhance the overall accuracy of your results. Remember to always double-check your converted values to ensure the integrity of your data. SAVE \$698
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