Replacing Commas with Periods

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 14, 2019)


Jean needs to replace commas with periods in a table of numbers. He works in France, using a French PC, but he needs to "translate" these numbers for a non-Excel American application. When he manually does a Find and Replace, everything works well. Of course, his numbers are converted to strings, but that's OK with Jean. When he tries to do the same Find and Replace operation in a macro, nothing happens; the commas seem to be ignored. Jean wonders how he can do this task in a macro rather than needing to do it manually each time.

It is relatively easy to temporarily modify what Excel uses as regional settings so that it can display information just as Jean wants. The following macro will toggle back and forth rather handily between the desired settings:

Sub ChangeNumberFormat()
    With Application
        .UseSystemSeparators = False
        If .DecimalSeparator = "." Then
            .DecimalSeparator = ","
            .ThousandsSeparator = "."
           .DecimalSeparator = "."
           .ThousandsSeparator = ","
        End If
    End With
End Sub

That changes how the information is displayed, and then you could export the information to whatever non-Excel format desired (such as CSV). Once done, run the macro again and you should have your regional settings back to the way they were originally. The benefit to this approach is that you never really change what is in the cells, just how that information is displayed. This means that your numbers remain numbers, able to continue to be used as such.

If you need something more direct, then it is probably best not to use Find and Replace. Instead, use the macro to directly modify what is in each cell. Such an approach can run much faster than relying on Find and Replace, even in a macro. Here's a simple application of this concept:

Sub SwitchCommasPeriods()
    Dim c As Range
    Dim sTemp As String
    For Each c In Selection
        sTemp = c.Text
        sTemp = Replace(sTemp, ",", "|")
        sTemp = Replace(sTemp, ".", ",")
        sTemp = Replace(sTemp, "|", ".")
        c = sTemp
    Next c
End Sub

Note a couple of things in the macro. First, it looks at the Text property for each cell. The reason is because the Text property returns the formatted value of the cell—in other words, what is displayed. (If you simply look at the Value property, you'll get the unformatted number, which is not what you want to use.)

The second thing to notice is that the Replace function is used to first replace all commas with a vertical bar, then all periods with commas, and finally all vertical bars with periods. This approach is necessary because you are essentially swapping periods and commas in the text.

To use the macro, simply select the cells you want to affect and then run it. Only those selected cells are processed. If a cell contains a formula, the macro replaces that formula with the processed result of the formula. This should be fine for Jean's purposes, however.


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 (13675) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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 seven more than 6?

2019-09-22 09:42:06


Thanks very much to Allen and J. Wooley for this clever solution!

2019-09-14 10:23:12

J. Woolley

Allen's first macro can be simplified:

Sub ChangeNumberFormat()
With Application
.DecimalSeparator = "."
.ThousandsSeparator = ","
.UseSystemSeparators = (Not .UseSystemSeparators)
End With
End Sub

The first time it is run all numbers will change from French (or default) to American:
123 456 789,12 becomes 123,456,789.12
The next time it is run all numbers will change back to French (or default).
Each time it is run the separators will change from their system default to American or vice versa.

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