Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 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: Working with Imperial Linear Distances.

# Working with Imperial Linear Distances

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 30, 2019)

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

x1 = x
Distances = Array(63360, 36, 12, 1)

For Each Item In Distances
x1 = x1 - Item * Int(x1 / Item)
Next

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.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9752) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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

Converting Numbers Into Words

Write out a check and you need to include the digits for the amount of the check and the value of the check written out ...

Discover More

Using R1C1 Formula References in a Macro

Besides the regular way of displaying formulas, Excel can also display them using what is called R1C1 format. If you are ...

Discover More

Generating a Keyword Occurrence List

Need to pull a list of words from a range of cells? This tip shows how easy you can perform the task using a macro.

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)

Tracking Down Invalid References

When you discover that there is an invalid reference in a workbook, you can have a bear of a time tracking down the ...

Discover More

Counting Wins and Losses

Need to count the number of W (win) or L (loss) characters in a range of cells? You can develop a number of formulaic ...

Discover More

Determining Winners, by Category

Do you need to determine the top three values in a range of columns? The techniques discussed in this tip will come in ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

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

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. Youâ€™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 8 + 8?

2020-07-25 16:44:52

John Mann

Metric system is certainly simpler, but not as interesting. This tip didn't even mention other distance units like rods, poles, perchs, chains, furlongs,, etc. There is also an almost as equally interesting and odd assorment of measures of weight, including stones & hudredweight.

2019-10-31 12:53:32

Willy Vanhaelen

What am I happy I live in a country using the metric system as do an overwhelming majority of the countries in the world.

2019-10-30 20:05:32

James

An added note: Suppose you had several rows of Miles Yards Feet Inches that you wanted to total. The easiest way, often, is to convert each row back to the smallest unit--in this case, inches--then add all those figures, and then convert that total inches back to a total for Miles Yards Feet Inches.

##### 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.