Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Displaying Letter Grades.

Displaying Letter Grades

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 30, 2019)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Some teachers use Excel worksheets to calculate grades for students. Doing so is quite easy, as you sum the results of various student benchmarks (quizzes, tests, assignments, etc.) and then apply whatever calculation is necessary to arrive at a final numeric grade.

If you do this, you may wonder how you can convert the numeric grade to a letter grade. For instance, you may have a grading scale defined where anything below 52 is an F, 52 to 63 is a D, 64 to 74 is a C, 75 to 84 is a B, and 85 to 99 is an A.

There are several ways that a problem such as this can be approached. First of all, you could use nested IF functions within a cell. For example, let's assume that a student's numeric grade is in cell G3. You could use the following formula to convert to a letter grade based on the scale shown above:

=IF(G3<52,"F",IF(G3<64,"D",IF(G3<75,"C",IF(G3<85,"B","A"))))

While such an approach will work just fine, using nested IF functions results in the need to change quite a few formulas if you change your grading scale. A different approach that is also more flexible involves defining a grading table and then using one of the LOOKUP functions (LOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and VLOOKUP) to determine the proper letter grade.

As an example, let's assume that you set up a grading table in cells M3:N7. In cell M3 you place the lowest possible score, which would be a zero. To its right, in cell N3, you place the letter grade for that score: F. In M4 you place the lowest score for the next highest grade (53) and in N4 you place the corresponding letter grade (D). When you are done putting in all five grade levels, you select the range (M3:N7) and give it a name, such as GradeTable. (How you name a range of cells is covered in other issues of ExcelTips.)

Now you can use a formula such as the following to return a letter grade:

=VLOOKUP(M22,GradeTable,2)

The beauty of using one of the LOOKUP functions in this manner is that if you decide to change the grading scale, all you need to do is change the lower boundaries of each grade in the grading table. Excel takes care of the rest and recalculates all the letter grades for your students.

When you put together your grading table, it is also important that you have the grades—those in the GradeTable—go in ascending order, from lowest to highest. Failure to do so will result in the wrong formula results using VLOOKUP.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9700) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Displaying Letter Grades.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Adding Information after the Endnotes

Endnotes appear at the end of the document, right? Not always, as Word provides a way that you can actually add as much ...

Discover More

Pulling Apart Cells

Separating text values in one cell into a group of other cells is a common need when dealing with text. Excel provides a ...

Discover More

Tools to Boost Motivation and Productivity

Sometimes a writer needs motivation to keep ploughing ahead in their craft. Word doesn't really include any tools to help ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Counting with Formulas

When you need to count a number of cells based upon a single criteria, the standard function to use is COUNTIF. This tip ...

Discover More

Colors in an IF Function

You can use the IF worksheet function to test for a number of different conditions or values. You can't use it to check ...

Discover More

Converting to Octal

If you need to do some work in the base-8 numbering system (octal), you'll love two worksheet functions provided by Excel ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two more than 0?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.