How to convert a number to text in Excel

Updated: 02/01/2021 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 enter 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, entering '0123 in a cell shows "0123" (with the zero) in the cell, and is noted as being formatted as text. Enter data this way is a quick way of changing the format of a cell.

If you type the same number as above without the apostrophe, it would appear as "123".


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. Formatting the cell allows you to change the number format. For example, you could change the format to add additional zeros to a percentage.

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