If you want Excel to treat certain types of numbers as text, you can use the text format instead of a number format. For example, If you are using credit card numbers, or other number codes that contain 16 digits or more, you must use a text format. That’s because Excel has a maximum of 15 digits of precision and will round any numbers that follow the 15th digit down to zero, which probably isn’t what you want to happen.
It’s easy to tell at a glance if a number is formatted as text, because it will be left-aligned instead of right-aligned in the cell.
Select the cell or range of cells that contains the numbers that you want to format as text.
How to select a cell or a range
A single cell
Click the cell, or press the arrow keys to move to the cell.
A range of cells
Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.
You can also select the first cell in the range, and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys. To stop extending the selection, press F8 again.
A large range of cells
Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.
All cells on a worksheet
Click the Select All button.
To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.
Note: If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.
Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges
Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.
You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection. To stop adding cells or ranges to the selection, press SHIFT+F8 again.
Note: You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.
An entire row or column
Click the row or column heading.
1. Row heading
2. Column heading
You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).
Note: If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key a second time selects the entire row or column.
Adjacent rows or columns
Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.
Nonadjacent rows or columns
Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.
The first or last cell in a row or column
Select a cell in the row or column, and then press CTRL+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).
The first or last cell on a worksheet or in a Microsoft Office Excel table
Press CTRL+HOME to select the first cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list.
Press CTRL+END to select the last cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list that contains data or formatting.
Cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner)
Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END to extend the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).
Cells to the beginning of the worksheet
Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+HOME to extend the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.
More or fewer cells than the active selection
Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.
Tip: To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.
Tip: You can also select empty cells, and then enter numbers after you format the cells as text. Those numbers will be formatted as text.
On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the arrow next to the Number Format box, and then click Text.
Note: If you don't see the Text option, use the scroll bar to scroll to the end of the list.
To use decimal places in numbers that are stored as text, you may need to include the decimal points when you type the numbers.
When you enter a number that begins with a zero—for example, a product code—Excel will delete the zero by default. If this is not what you want, you can create a custom number format that forces Excel to retain the leading zero. For example, if you're typing or pasting ten-digit product codes in a worksheet, Excel will change numbers like 0784367998 to 784367998. In this case, you could create a custom number format consisting of the code 0000000000, which forces Excel to display all ten digits of the product code, including the leading zero. For more information about this issue, see Create or delete a custom number format and Keep leading zeros in number codes.
Occasionally, numbers might be formatted and stored in cells as text, which later can cause problems with calculations or produce confusing sort orders. This sometimes happens when you import or copy numbers from a database or other data source. In this scenario, you must convert the numbers stored as text back to numbers. For more information, see Convert numbers stored as text to numbers.
You can also use the TEXT function to convert a number to text in a specific number format. For examples of this technique, see Keep leading zeros in number codes. For information about using the TEXT function, see TEXT function.