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: Converting Imported Information to Numeric Values.

Converting Imported Information to Numeric Values

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 24, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


1

Garrett asked if there was a way to quickly convert text data to numerical data. He is importing a text file that uses spaces in the thousands place (1 256) instead of a comma (1,256).

There are several ways to approach this problem. The first is to understand the source of the problem. The text file is probably created on a system that is following a metric standard. Some countries, following the metric standard, use a space for a thousands separator instead of a comma. Thus, you could import the file properly into Excel if you change your regional settings in Windows before starting Excel and doing the import. You can change the regional settings by using the Control Panel.

If you don't want to change the regional settings on your system, there are other approaches you can take. After Excel imports the information, you can select the range of cells that contain numbers and simply do a search and replace. You are searching for a single space and replacing it with nothing. This does away with the space completely, and Excel will then treat the contents of the cell as a number.

You can also use a formula, if desired, to modify the imported data. For instance, if the imported number (containing a space) is in cell A3, you could use this formula to strip out the space:

=1*SUBSTITUTE(A3," ","")

Note that there is a space between the first set of quotes and nothing between the second set of quotes.

If you have quite a bit of data to convert, or if you have text interspersed with the "numbers-only" cells, then you may decide to use a macro to do the conversion. The following macro works on a selection you make before calling it. It also checks to make sure that the cell—after removing the spaces—contains a numeric value. If it doesn't, then no conversion is done.

Sub ClearSpacesIfNumeric()
    Dim c As Range 'Cell under examination
    Dim tmpText As String 'Cell contents without spaces
    Dim i As Integer 'Simple counter

    For Each c In Selection
        tmpText = "" 'Initialize

        'Check each character to see if it's a space
        'If it isn't, add it to tmpText
        For i = 1 To Len(c.Text)
            If Mid(c.Text, i, 1) <> " " Then
                tmpText = tmpText & Mid(c.Text, i, 1)
            End If
        Next i

        'tmpText is now the cell contents without spaces
        'If tmpText is a number, assign its value to
        'the current cell
        If IsNumeric(tmpText) Then
            c.Value = tmpText
        End If
    Next c
End Sub

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 (12058) 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: Converting Imported Information to Numeric Values.

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. ...

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What is nine minus 3?

2020-10-25 00:42:49

Alex B

You do also have the option of transforming it when you import it.
Using the Excel File Open Text file import dialogue box, in the advanced option put a "space" in the thousands separator box. This is also works in Text to Columns after importing.
Or in Power Query transform the field by specifying the "Use Locale…" option and picking say French (Canada).


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