How To Keep Leading Zeros In Excel Csv

Working with CSV files in Excel can sometimes be a bit tricky, especially when dealing with numbers that have leading zeros. If you have ever experienced this, you know that Excel automatically removes leading zeros from numbers since it interprets them as numeric fields. This automatic removal can be detrimental especially when dealing with product codes, telephone numbers, zip codes, etc. where leading zeros are critical.

In this blog post, we will guide you through a step-by-step process of how you can keep leading zeros in Excel CSV files.

Method 1: Using Excel Text Import Wizard

  1. Open Excel
  2. Go to File > Open, and select the CSV file you want to open.
  3. Instead of directly opening it, select Text Files from the dropdown and then select your file.
  4. This will trigger the Text Import Wizard. Choose Delimited > Click Next
  5. Select the checkbox for Comma > Click Next
  6. Select the column that has the leading zeros > Select Text > Click Finish.

This method will ensure the cells are interpreted as text, keeping your leading zeros intact.

Method 2: Using a Simple Excel Formula

If you’re already working within your file, you can convert the number to text using Excel’s TEXT function. See the formula below:

=TEXT(A1, "00000")

The number of zeros you use in the formula represents the length of the number. For example, if you want a 5-digit number, use 00000.

Method 3: Prefacing with an Apostrophe

By simply adding an apostrophe (‘) before your number, Excel will automatically consider it as text and keeps the leading zeros. This is helpful for single cells, but can be time-consuming for large datasets.

Method 4: Custom Formatting

You can also tell Excel to keep leading zeros by applying a custom number format. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Select the cells where you want to keep leading zeros.
  2. Go to Format Cells > Number > Custom.
  3. Type the number of zeros that correspond to the length of the number. For example, if you’re dealing with a 5-digit number, type 00000.

Remember, this doesn’t change the actual data, just how it’s displayed in Excel.


Maintaining leading zeros in Excel CSV files can be crucial depending on the data you are working with. Hopefully, with these methods, you’ll never have to worry about lost leading zeros again!