How To Keep Leading Zeros In Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a fantastic tool that enables us to handle and analyze data with ease. However, you might have stumbled on a common problem many users face – leading zeros disappear by default. In this blog post, we will guide you on how to keep leading zeros in Google Sheets.

Why Leading Zeros Disappear in Google Sheets

Google Sheets automatically interprets a number with leading zeros as a number and strips off the zeros. This is because, according to mathematical rules, leading zeros have no value. However, in certain scenarios – such as zip codes, phone numbers, or product codes – these leading zeros are crucial.

How to Keep Leading Zeros in Google Sheets

Don’t worry! There are several methods to keep the leading zeros in Google Sheets:

1. Enter the Number as Text

The easiest solution is to input the data as text instead of a number. You can do this by adding a single quote (‘) before the number. For example, if you need to input the number 007, instead enter it as ‘007.

2. Format Cells as Plain Text

You can change the format of cells to plain text. This will keep leading zeros in all the numbers you enter in these cells. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. First, select the cells that you want to format.
  2. Then, click on the Format option in the menu bar.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select Number > Plain Text.

3. Use a Custom Format

If you know that your numbers should always have a certain number of digits, you can use the custom number format. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Select the cells that you want to format.
  2. Click on the Format option in the menu bar, then Number > More Formats > Custom number format.
  3. In the box that appears, type in the number of zeros that corresponds to the number of digits your numbers should have. For example, if your numbers should always have 5 digits, type in 00000.
  4. Click on Apply.


As you can see, keeping leading zeros in Google Sheets is a straightforward process. Whether you need it for data analysis or data entry tasks, the above solutions will ensure that your numbers always display correctly.