How To Stop Google Sheets From Changing Numbers To Dates

Google Sheets, a powerful tool for data management and organization, does a great job in handling a variety of data types. However, one common issue that users often encounter is Google Sheets automatically converting number sequences into dates. This automatic conversion may be helpful in some cases, but it can also be quite frustrating when you’re working with data that isn’t meant to be interpreted as dates. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to stop Google Sheets from changing numbers to dates.

Why does Google Sheets change numbers to dates?

Google Sheets, like many spreadsheet software, has built-in functionality to recognize patterns in the data you’re inputting. If you enter a number that seems like it could be a date (such as 3-4 or 12/31), Google Sheets assumes you’re trying to input a date and automatically formats it as such. While this feature is designed to make life easier, it can be quite inconvenient when you’re dealing with data not related to dates.

How to stop the automatic conversion?

There are a few ways to prevent Google Sheets from automatically converting numbers to dates. Here are a few solutions:

1. Change the Format of the Cells

Changing the format of the cells from the date format to plain text or number can stop Google Sheets from making automatic conversions.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells that you want to change.
  2. Click on Format on the menu.
  3. Hover over Number to open the submenu.
  4. From the list of options, choose Plain Text or Number.

This will instruct Google Sheets that the data you’re inputting in these cells is not a date, so it won’t try to convert it.

2. Add an Apostrophe Before the Number

If you’re only dealing with a few cells, a quick fix is to add an apostrophe (‘) before the number. This tells Google Sheets to treat the entry as text, not a number or a date.


This will keep Google Sheets from converting it into a date format. Your number will stay as “12/31” and not be converted to “31-Dec”.

3. Use a Custom Format

Creating a custom format is another workaround. This is particularly useful if you want to maintain number formatting but prevent date conversion. Here’s how:

  1. Select the cells you want to custom format.
  2. Click on Format, then Number, then More Formats at the bottom of the menu.
  3. Choose Custom number format.
  4. Input your desired format (for example, “0”) and then click Apply.

This method is more flexible as you can create a format that suits your specific needs.

In conclusion, while Google Sheets’ automatic date conversion feature can be helpful, it can sometimes get in the way when working with non-date data. Hopefully, with these tips, you can prevent undesired automatic conversions and work more efficiently with your data.