Author: Oscar Cronquist Article last updated on August 13, 2018

A number that is formatted as text will be left-aligned instead of right-aligned, this makes it easier for you to spot numbers that have been incorrectly formatted as text values.

The first example shows how Excel shows a number formatted as a number. The number is aligned to the right whereas numbers formatted as text are aligned to the left in the cell.

Method 1

Instructions:

  1. Select a cell
  2. Type '
  3. Type the number
  4. Press Enter

This example is shown in the second row in the image above.

Method 2

Instructions:

  1. Select a cell
  2. Type ="number"
  3. Press Enter

The number is the number you want to be formatted as text. This example is shown in the third row in the image above.

Method 3

Instructions:

  1. Select a cell
  2. Type the number
  3. Press Enter
  4. Press CTRL + 1 to open the "Format Cells" dialog box.
  5. Make sure you are on tab "Number".
  6. Select Category: "Text".
  7. Click OK button.

Number incorrectly formatted as a text value

A green arrow appears in the upper left corner of the cell if Excel believes you have a number in your worksheet that was formatted incorrectly as text.

Click the exclamation button and an options menu appears.

This lets you quickly deal with the problem:

Convert to Number Changes the formatting to a number. Value is now right-aligned.
Help on this Error Opens a help guide inside Excel.
Ignore Error Removes the green arrow, everything else remains as it is.
Edit in formula Bar The prompt is moved to the formula bar where you can edit the cell value.
Error Checking Options... Opens the "Excel Options" dialog box, see picture below. This allows you to change how Excel behaves when it comes to error values.

If you have multiple values checked as errors you can easily remove the green arrows by selecting the cells containing the error arrow. Then click the "Exclamation mark" button and lastly click "Ignore error".