Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Working with Imperial Linear Distances.

Working with Imperial Linear Distances

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 23, 2015)

Peter asked if it was possible in Excel to create a custom number format that will deal with imperial linear distances, such as inches, feet, miles, etc. The short answer is that no, this is not possible. Excel works natively in the decimal system, and many imperial measuring systems are based on other numeric systems (feet on base 12, for instance). While custom formatting can change the way that numbers are displayed, it cannot perform the conversions necessary for imperial measurements.

Your best bet is to keep the different units of whatever imperial measurement you want in different cells. For instance, a distance of 3 miles, 428 feet, and 7 inches could be kept in three cells, one for miles, one for feet, and the other for inches. You could then write the formulas necessary to convert to whatever measurement system you desire. There are also Excel add-ins available around the Internet (a quick search will find them) that can allow you to use this technique to work with linear measurements.

Another approach is to develop a custom function or macro that would convert a value into a linear measurement and display it as text. You couldn't use the result in math functions, but it may give you want you want for your workbook. Consider, for example, the following simple macro:

Function N2MYFI(x) As String
    Dim x1 as Long
    Dim FinalAnswer As String

    x1 = x
    Distances = Array(63360, 36, 12, 1)
    
    FinalAnswer = ""
    For Each Item In Distances
        FinalAnswer = FinalAnswer & " " & Int(x1 / Item)
        x1 = x1 - Item * Int(x1 / Item)
    Next

    N2MYFI = Trim(FinalAnswer)
End Function

This function returns four numbers, in a string, that represent the number of miles, yards, feet, and inches (MYFI) in a raw value. It is assumed that the value fed to the function is in inches, such as the following:

=N2MYFI(100)

This returns the string "0 2 2 4", which means there are 0 miles, 2 yards, 2 feet, and 4 inches in 100 inches. The function could easily be changed to return the values in any format desired.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9752) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Working with Imperial Linear Distances.

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

Two-Line Headings in a TOC

If you use the TC field to mark what goes in a TOC, you may wonder why if you mark two lines together with the field they ...

Discover More

Stopping a Workbook from Persistently Auto-Loading

Excel has the capability to automatically open workbooks when you first start the program. You may not want to have one ...

Discover More

Using a Portion of a Document's Filename in a Header

Headers and footers add a nice finishing touch to a document you plan on printing. You may want all sorts of information ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Numbers in Base 12

Different professions use numbers in entirely unique ways. You may need to come up with a number that represents the ...

Discover More

Shortening ZIP Codes

US ZIP Codes can be of two varieties: five-digits or nine-digits. Here's how to convert longer ZIP Codes to the shorter ...

Discover More

Stopping a Formula from Updating References

Insert or delete a column, and Excel automatically updates references within formulas that are affected by the change. If ...

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}] 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 five more than 8?

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.