Converting Strings to Numbers in Excel


Converting strings to numbers in Excel might seem like a trivial task, but it is a crucial skill that can greatly enhance your data manipulation capabilities. Whether you are working with financial data, conducting statistical analysis, or simply organizing information, understanding how to convert strings to numbers is essential for accurate calculations and meaningful insights. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of converting strings to numbers in Excel and discuss common scenarios where this conversion is required.

Key Takeaways

  • Converting strings to numbers in Excel is a crucial skill for data manipulation.
  • Understanding Excel's different data types (text, number, date, etc.) is important to avoid incorrect calculations.
  • The VALUE function in Excel enables the conversion of text to numbers.
  • Identifying and removing non-numeric characters is necessary for accurate conversion of strings to numbers.
  • Troubleshooting common issues and handling errors is essential when converting strings to numbers.

Understanding Excel data types

In Excel, data types determine how the data is stored and processed in a worksheet. By correctly identifying and utilizing the appropriate data type, you can ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of your calculations and formulas. Let's explore the different data types in Excel:


The text data type is used to store alphanumeric characters, such as names, addresses, and descriptions. Text values are treated as labels and cannot be used in mathematical calculations without conversion.


The number data type is used for storing numerical values, including integers, decimals, and percentages. Numeric values can be used in mathematical calculations and formulas without requiring any additional conversions.

Date and Time

The date and time data type is used to store specific dates and times. Excel includes various date and time formats, allowing you to perform calculations and manipulations based on these values.


The boolean data type is used to represent logical values, such as TRUE or FALSE. Booleans are commonly used in conditional statements and logical operations.


The error data type is used to indicate when a cell contains an error, such as a formula error or an invalid mathematical operation.

Consequences of using incorrect data types in formulas or calculations

Using incorrect data types in Excel formulas or calculations can lead to unexpected results and errors. Here are some consequences of using incorrect data types:

  • Incorrect calculations: When a formula references cells with mismatched data types, Excel may not perform the intended calculations correctly. For example, using a text value in a mathematical formula can result in errors or unexpected outcomes.
  • Data loss: Converting numbers to text can cause loss of information, as text values cannot retain the same level of precision as numbers. This can affect the accuracy of subsequent calculations or analyses.
  • Formatting issues: Formatting may not be applied correctly when data types are mismatched. For instance, a date value stored as text may not be recognized as a date by Excel, resulting in incorrect sorting or formatting in pivot tables or charts.
  • Debugging difficulties: When formulas involve cells with different data types, identifying and resolving formula errors can become more challenging. This can result in wasted time and frustration during the debugging process.

Understanding Excel data types and their implications is crucial for accurate data analysis and effective use of Excel's features. By utilizing the appropriate data types and ensuring consistency throughout your worksheets, you can avoid potential errors and make the most of Excel's powerful capabilities.

Converting strings to numbers in Excel

Converting strings to numbers in Excel is a common task, especially when working with data that has been imported from external sources or copied and pasted from other applications. Excel provides several functions to help with this task, and one of the most commonly used is the VALUE function.

Explanation of the VALUE function in Excel

The VALUE function in Excel is used to convert a text string that represents a number into a numeric value that can be used in mathematical calculations. It takes a single argument, which is the text string that needs to be converted.

One important thing to note is that the text string must be in a format that Excel recognizes as a number. If the text string contains any characters that are not valid in a number, the VALUE function will return an error.

The VALUE function can be used to convert a wide range of strings to numbers, including whole numbers, decimal numbers, and even numbers with currency symbols or percentage signs.

Step-by-step guide on converting text to numbers using the VALUE function

  • Identify the range of cells or the specific cell that contains the text strings you want to convert to numbers.
  • Select the range of cells or click on the specific cell.
  • Open the formula bar at the top of the Excel window. The formula bar displays the contents of the selected cell.
  • Enter the following formula: =VALUE(cell_reference), replacing cell_reference with the reference to the cell that contains the text string you want to convert.
  • Press Enter to apply the formula and convert the text string to a number.
  • If you need to convert multiple text strings to numbers, you can use the fill handle to quickly apply the formula to the rest of the cells in the range.

By following these steps, you can easily convert text strings to numbers in Excel using the VALUE function. This can be particularly useful when working with large datasets or when performing complex calculations that require numeric values.

Dealing with non-numeric characters

When working with data in Excel, it is not uncommon to encounter strings that contain non-numeric characters. These characters can pose a challenge when performing calculations or analysis on the data. However, with the right techniques, you can easily convert these strings into numeric values and unlock their full potential. In this chapter, we will explore how to deal with non-numeric characters in Excel and convert them into numbers.

Identifying non-numeric characters in a string

Before attempting to convert a string into a number, it is important to identify any non-numeric characters that may be present. This can be done using various Excel functions and formulas. Here are a few commonly used methods:

  • ISNUMBER: The ISNUMBER function can be used to check if a cell value is numeric. By using this function in combination with an IF statement, you can quickly identify strings that contain non-numeric characters.
  • REGEXMATCH: If you are comfortable with regular expressions, the REGEXMATCH function can be a powerful tool for identifying non-numeric characters. This function allows you to search for patterns within a string and determine if a match is found.
  • COUNTIF: The COUNTIF function can also be used to identify non-numeric characters. By counting the occurrences of specific characters or character ranges, you can determine if a string contains any non-numeric values.

Using the SUBSTITUTE function to remove non-numeric characters

Once you have identified the non-numeric characters in a string, the next step is to remove them. The SUBSTITUTE function in Excel can be particularly useful for this task. Here's how you can use it:

  1. Step 1: Identify the non-numeric characters: Use one of the methods mentioned earlier to identify the non-numeric characters in the string.
  2. Step 2: Use SUBSTITUTE: With the non-numeric characters identified, you can now use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace them with an empty string. The syntax for SUBSTITUTE is as follows: =SUBSTITUTE(text, old_text, new_text). In this case, the "text" argument should refer to the original string, "old_text" should be the non-numeric character(s) you want to remove, and "new_text" should be an empty string ("").
  3. Step 3: Convert the result to a number: After removing the non-numeric characters, the resulting string may still be stored as text. To convert it into a number, you can use the VALUE function or multiply the cell by 1.

By following these steps, you can effectively remove non-numeric characters from a string and convert it into a numeric value in Excel. This will allow you to perform calculations, create charts, and analyze the data more efficiently.

Converting multiple strings to numbers

When working with large datasets in Excel, it is not uncommon to encounter situations where strings need to be converted into numerical values. This becomes particularly useful when performing calculations, creating charts, or conducting analysis. In this chapter, we will explore two efficient methods to convert multiple strings to numbers in Excel.

Demonstrating the use of the TEXTJOIN and VALUE functions together

The TEXTJOIN and VALUE functions can be combined to convert multiple strings into numbers in Excel. The TEXTJOIN function allows us to concatenate strings together, while the VALUE function converts a text representation of a number into an actual numerical value.

  • STEP 1: Use the TEXTJOIN function to combine the strings into a single text value.
  • STEP 2: Apply the VALUE function to convert the concatenated text into numbers.
  • STEP 3: Apply the necessary formatting to ensure that the converted values are recognized as numbers by Excel.

Let's consider an example where we have a list of numerical values stored as strings in cells A1:A5. To convert these strings to numbers, we can use the following formula:


This formula concatenates the strings in cells A1 to A5 without any delimiter, and then applies the VALUE function to convert the combined text into a numerical value. By using the TRUE argument in the TEXTJOIN function, we ignore any empty cells in the range.

Converting a range of cells containing strings to numbers

Another approach to convert a range of cells containing strings to numbers is by using the Paste Special feature in Excel. This method allows for bulk conversion without the need for complex formulas.

  • STEP 1: Select the range of cells containing the strings you want to convert to numbers.
  • STEP 2: Right-click on the selected range and choose the "Copy" option or press Ctrl+C to copy the cells.
  • STEP 3: Right-click on a different cell where you want to paste the converted values and choose "Paste Special" from the context menu.
  • STEP 4: In the Paste Special dialog box, select the "Values" option and click on "OK".

This method pastes the values of the selected cells as numbers rather than strings. It effectively converts the strings to numbers without any additional formulas or functions.

By utilizing these two methods, you can easily convert multiple strings to numbers in Excel and work with them efficiently for further analysis or calculations.

Common issues and troubleshooting tips

Converting strings to numbers in Excel can sometimes be a tricky task, especially when dealing with large datasets or inconsistent input formats. In this chapter, we will explore some common issues that arise during the conversion process and provide troubleshooting tips to help you overcome them.

Handling errors when converting strings to numbers

When attempting to convert strings to numbers in Excel, errors can occur due to various reasons such as invalid characters, empty cells, or incompatible formats. Here are some tips to handle these errors:

  • Check for non-numeric characters: Before converting a string to a number, it is crucial to ensure that the string does not contain any non-numeric characters. Use the ISNUMBER or ISTEXT functions to identify and remove any non-numeric characters from the string.
  • Handle empty cells: Empty cells can cause errors during conversion. To handle this, you can use the IF function to check if a cell is empty before converting it. For example, you can use the formula =IF(A1="", 0, VALUE(A1)) to convert the string in cell A1 to a number, considering it as 0 if the cell is empty.
  • Address incompatible formats: In some cases, Excel may interpret numbers in a string format differently based on regional settings or formatting options. To address this, you can use the TEXT function to convert a string to a specific number format. For instance, if Excel is misinterpreting a decimal separator, you can use =VALUE(SUBSTITUTE(A1, ",", ".")) to replace commas with periods before converting the string.

Troubleshooting common problems during conversion

Despite taking precautions, you may encounter specific issues while converting strings to numbers. Here are some troubleshooting tips to resolve common problems:

  • Decimal number conversion: If Excel is incorrectly interpreting decimal numbers with a different separator, you can adjust the regional settings in Excel to match the desired format. Go to "File" > "Options" > "Advanced" and under "Editing options," select the appropriate decimal and thousands separators.
  • Leading and trailing spaces: Leading and trailing spaces within a string can affect the conversion to numbers. To remove extra spaces, you can use the TRIM function before converting the string. For example, =VALUE(TRIM(A1)) will remove leading and trailing spaces from the string in cell A1 before conversion.
  • Special characters or symbols: Certain special characters or symbols can cause conversion errors. To handle this, you can use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace specific characters with appropriate ones that Excel can recognize before converting the string. For instance, =VALUE(SUBSTITUTE(A1, "%", "")) will remove percentage symbols from the string in cell A1 before conversion.


In conclusion, accurately converting strings to numbers is of utmost importance in Excel. It allows for more efficient and accurate data analysis, calculations, and reporting. By utilizing functions like VALUE, NUMBERVALUE, and Text to Columns, users can easily convert strings to numbers while ensuring data integrity. This blog post discussed the significance of this conversion and provided step-by-step methods to accomplish it. Remember, when working with numerical data in Excel, converting strings to numbers is a crucial step to avoid errors and achieve accurate results.

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