Translate Fractions in Excel

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Q. I often need to enter fractions in my Excel worksheets. I have no problems when I enter a complex fraction like 234 , but when I enter a fraction without an integer, such as 2/3 , Excel changes it to a date—February 3 in this case. I can reformat the cell, but that’s a drag. I’m sure there’s a better way to stop Excel from defaulting the fraction to a date.

A. When you enter a fraction into Excel, the application cleverly converts the number into its decimal equivalent and stores that information, yet it is shown as a fraction on the screen.

When you enter a month and day with either a dash or a forward slash ( 2-3 or 2/3 ), Excel defaults to read that as a date unless otherwise instructed. While Excel is smart enough to know you mean a fraction when you enter 2 2/3 , if you just enter just 2/3 , it defaults to the date format.

To get around the problem, just enter a 0 in front of the fraction—such as 0 2/3 —and Excel will get it right.

SPONSORED REPORT

Implementing a global statutory reporting maturity model

Assess your organization's capabilities and progress toward an ideal state of global statutory reporting. Sponsored by Workiva.

100th ANNIVERSARY

Black CPA Centennial, 1921–2021

With 2021 marking the 100th anniversary of the first Black licensed CPA in the United States, a yearlong campaign kicked off to recognize the nation’s Black CPAs and encourage greater progress in diversity, inclusion, and equity in the CPA profession.