How To Stop Google Sheets From Removing Leading Zeros

Google Sheets, much like other spreadsheet software, has a habit of removing leading zeros from numbers. This feature is usually helpful because it aids readability, but it can be a nuisance when you’re dealing with data that requires the leading zeros.

In this post, we will walk you through the steps to stop Google Sheets from removing leading zeros from your data.

Method 1: Using ‘Format Cells’ Option

The simplest way to preserve leading zeros in Google Sheets is by using the ‘Format Cells’ option. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Select the cells you want to format.
  2. Click on the ‘Format’ menu at the top.
  3. Hover over ‘Number’ then click on ‘Plain text’.

Your numbers will now retain any leading zeros when entered in the selected cells.

Method 2: Using Custom Format

If you know the exact number of digits including the leading zeros, you can use custom formatting:

  1. Select your cells.
  2. Click on the ‘Format’ menu at the top.
  3. Hover over ‘Number’, then click on ‘More Formats’ at the bottom and select ‘Custom number format’.
  4. In the box that appears, type in the number of zeros that match your desired format. For example, if you want four digits, type ‘0000’.
  5. Click ‘Apply’.

This will display your numbers with the specified number of digits, adding leading zeros as necessary.

Method 3: Using a Single Quote

You can also stop Google Sheets from removing leading zeros by adding a single quote (‘) before your number. This tells Google Sheets to interpret the entry as text.

For example, if you type ‘007, Google Sheets will keep the leading zero and display ‘007.


Leading zeros may not hold mathematical value, but they can be important for certain datasets. By following these steps, you can ensure that Google Sheets preserves your leading zeros.