How to convert a number to text in Excel

Updated: 12/20/2017 by Computer Hope

Because most data inserted into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is numbers, by default Excel treats all cells containing only numbers as numbers and not as text. If you are entering numbers that you want to be treated only as text and not numbers, date, or another format, follow either of the steps below.

Enter an apostrophe (') before any number

Any text entered into a spreadsheet cell that starts with an apostrophe (') is treated as text only. For example, if you enter '1234 into a cell, it shows "1234" in the cell and be noted as a cell that is formatted as text. Enter data this way is a quick way of changing the format of a cell.


If numbers are entered into a cell starting with an apostrophe that cells values are ignored by any formula.

Change the formatting of the cell

If you're working with a spreadsheet with existing data (e.g., full columns or rows) you want to convert to text, follow the steps below.

  1. Highlight the cell, column, or row you want to change.
  2. Right-click on the highlighted section of text and click the Format Cells option.
  3. In the Format Cells window, under the Number tab, click Text and then click Ok.