Microsoft KB Archive/38369

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Excel: Text Numbers Become Numbers if Document Saved as Text

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Excel for the Macintosh, versions 1.x, 2.x, 3.0, 4.0


To enter a number in Microsoft Excel as text, type ="x" (where x is any number within quotation marks) into a cell. Excel will not apply any number formatting to the entry.

If the document is saved as text, Excel saves only the number; if the text document is reopened, the cell will contain just the number.

This behavior occurs because Excel saves only the results of formulas, not the formulas themselves, when it saves as text. If a saved text file is reopened, it show all values with number formatting.

To enter a number as text so that it will not be converted when the document is saved as text, precede the number with an OPTION+SPACEBAR (press the OPTION key and SPACEBAR together). This is a way to enter the number as text without using a formula, so it will remain as a text entry when the document is saved as text and later reopened.


Entering a number as text is most commonly used for serial numbers or part numbers in a worksheet that may be misinterpreted by Excel as dates.

For example, if you enter the part number 2-15 into a cell, Excel will convert it to the serial number for February 15 of the current year. To enter the part number 2-15, use: ="2-15". This is recognized as a text string by Excel, so Excel does not convert the string to a date.

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Last Reviewed: March 12, 1999
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