Microsoft Office: Excel's versatile CONVERT function

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q. We receive Excel-based reports from our European operations with the daily temperatures of our electrical generators and other equipment recorded in Celsius; what's the best way to convert these data to Fahrenheit in Excel?

A. Excel's CONVERT function can be used to convert a multitude of units of measurements. For example, to convert 37.3 C in cell B3 below, I've entered the formula =CONVERT(B3,"C","F") in cell B9 to derive 99.1 F. The syntax of this function requires you to reference the number to be converted, the unit of measure you are converting from, and then the unit of measure you are converting to. This formula can then be copied down and over (from cell B9 to cells B9:G12 in this example) to convert all Celsius temperatures (shown in rows 3 through 6 in this example) to the Fahrenheit scale.

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In addition to converting temperatures, the CONVERT function can be used to convert more than 100 units of measure in the areas of weight and mass, distance, time, pressure, force, energy, power, magnetism, temperature, volume, area, information, and speed. The key to using this tool is knowing the codes supported by the CONVERT function. As examples, presented below are approximately half of the codes supported by the CONVERT function. You can view a full list of the CONVERT function's codes at support.office.com.

As additional examples, you could use the formulas =CONVERT(1, "lbm", "kg") to convert 1 pound to 0.4535924 kilograms; =CONVERT(2.5, "mi", "ft") to convert 2.5 miles to 13,200 feet; or =CONVERT(1600,"barrel","gal") to convert 1,600 barrels of oil to 67,200 gallons of oil. This wide array of options makes the CONVERT function a valuable tool for CPAs.

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About the author

J. Carlton Collins (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, a conference presenter, and a JofA contributing editor.

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