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How do I fix scientific notation and formatting issues in Excel?
How do I fix scientific notation and formatting issues in Excel?

Excel rounding or incorrectly formatting long numbers, skus, barcodes, and numbers over 15 digits.

Updated over a week ago

Excel is a plague on more than just ecommerce. Scientists actually changed the genetic terminology to avoid issues with autocorrect.

Many spreadsheet programs, including Excel or google sheets, have a limit for handling large numbers, referred to as digits of precision or number precision. In Excel, this limit is 15 digits. Values beyond this certain number of digits may be rounded or even shown in scientific notation.

This can be problematic when working with numbers that are commonly longer than 15 digits such as SKUs, barcodes, or even tracking numbers.

Unfortunately, the "Format Cells" function within Excel is not enough to convert these numbers properly, but you can resolve this by simply importing these values in a different format altogether.

Import data into Excel using the Text Import Wizard

Rather than opening the CSV file directly, use Excel's import options:

  1. Open a new blank worksheet within Excel

  2. Select "Import" from the File menu

    • In some versions of Excel you may need to go to the "Data" tab and then select "Get Data" > "From Text"

  3. Select "CSV" file and click Import

  4. Select the raw CSV file downloaded from SKULabs

Excel's Text Import Wizard will open.

  1. Select Delimited and click next.

  2. Select Comma and click next

  3. Select the column "Tracking Number", then select "Text" or "General" at top.

  4. Click Finish.

    The spreadsheet will open and tracking numbers will show as full values and no longer in rounded or scientific notation.

Leading zero's

Numbers that begin with "0" are considered to have a "leading zero". Many spreadsheet programs incorrectly format these numbers and strip the first zero of the number. This is most common with Microsoft Excel since it by default formats text as a number and removes the leading 0's.

One solution is to convert numbers back to text. If you use Excel, here are instructions on how to achieve this.

Another option is to use Google Sheets, which prompts you if you would like to auto format text to number allowing you to opt out. Open Google Sheets > File > Import > Upload > Select file from device, and follow the rest of the prompts until the Import file prompt appears. And, select "No" under the Convert text to numbers , dates, and formulas section.

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