How To Stop Excel From Changing Numbers To Dates

Microsoft Excel is an extremely powerful and versatile spreadsheet tool that is widely used in many industries. However, sometimes its automatic features can be a source of frustration. One such feature is Excel’s inclination to automatically convert numeric data into dates. This can create issues especially when you are dealing with data that should remain as numbers.

In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of how to stop Excel from automatically changing numbers into dates.

Preformatting Cells

The simplest way to prevent Excel from converting numbers to dates is to preformat the cells before entering your data. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells you want to format.
  2. Right-click on the selected cells and choose ‘Format Cells’.
  3. In the ‘Category’ list, choose ‘Text’.
  4. Click ‘OK’.

Now, any number you input into the preformatted cells will remain as plain text, and Excel will not attempt to convert them into dates.

Adding an Apostrophe

If you do not want to preformat your cells, another solution is to enter an apostrophe (‘) before entering your number. This will tell Excel to treat the entry as text.

For example, if you enter ‘‘020321‘, Excel will keep it as ‘020321‘ and not convert it into a date such as ‘02/03/21‘.

Using Excel Formulas

You can also use Excel formulas to prevent automatic date conversions. The ‘TEXT’ function can be used to convert a numeric value to text in a specific number format.

The syntax for the TEXT function is:

=TEXT(value, format_text)

Here, ‘value’ represents the numeric value that you want to convert into text, and ‘format_text’ is the format that you want to apply.

For example:


This formula will convert the numeric value in cell A1 into text.


Excel’s automatic conversion of numbers to dates can be a nuisance when working with certain datasets. However, with these simple methods, you can easily circumvent this feature and keep your data exactly the way you want it.

We hope this guide has been helpful. Stay tuned for more Excel tips and tricks!