Pro Tip: be careful using lookup functions that contain a mix of TEXT and NUMBERS, especially if the data was pasted from somewhere else.
Ever have a lookup function (e.g. INDEX, MATCH, VLOOKUP) that you swore was correct but which refused to return the right value? Even worse you can scroll to the exact spot that should be matching? Then you scroll back up and see that green arrow which says
"Number stored as text"? It’s quite possible you were fighting Excel’s handling of text and numbers.
Excel has a fairly strict rule which says that comparing a number (e.g.
7) and text (e.g
cats) will always return
FALSE. Excel also allows you to store a number (e.g.
7) as text (e.g.
7). With default formatting in place, Excel then tries to provide a visual that one is text and the other is a number by right and left aligning them. When you are interacting with Excel “normally”, it is quite difficult to accidentally enter a number as text. You typically have to manually set the cell type to
Text and then type the number in. It’s very easy however to paste something from the internet that Excel misinterprets. Even easier is using the output of an SAP export directly. Either way, it’s possible to end up with a cell that contain text but looks like a number. This wreaks havoc on your lookups though because Excel is using equality to determine which cells to return. Since a number can never be equal to text, this guarantees you won’t consistently get the result you want.
Ways to diagnose this problem:
Number stored as text
ISTEXTfunction to check what type a cell is
Ways to deal with this issue for formulas:
TEXT) or a number (using
Ways to not solve this problem: