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How to Use the NUMBERVALUE Function in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

September 26, 2023 1.5K views

Discover the full potential of Excel's NUMBERVALUE function with our step-by-step guide. In this step-by-step tutorial, we will explore the ins and outs of Excel's NUMBERVALUE function, equipping you with the knowledge and skills to harness its power for efficient numerical data manipulation within your spreadsheets.

Part 1. What is the NUMBERVALUE Function in Excel?

The Excel NUMBERVALUE function uses the provided decimal and group separators to convert a number in text format into a numeric value. This function is used to transform values specific to a particular locale into values that are universal across locales. It is especially valuable when working with data that employs different conventions for representing numbers, such as varying decimal points or thousands separators based on different locales.

Part 2. How to Create and Use the NUMBERVALUE Function in Excel?

This is Formula:

=NUMBERVALUE(Text,[decimal_separator],[group_separator])

The NUMBERVALUE function uses the following arguments:

  • Text (required argument) – This is the text that will be converted into a number.

  • Decimal_separator (optional argument) – The character used to separate the integer and fractional part of the result.

  • Group_separator (optional argument) – Is used to separate groupings of numbers, such as separating millions from thousands, thousands from hundreds, etc.

Let’s see a few examples to understand how the NUMBERVALUE function works:

Example 1

Suppose we input the formula NUMBERVALUE(“1.500,7″,”,”,”.”)), the function will return 1500.70. Here, the decimal separator of the text argument in the example is specified in the second argument as a comma, and the group separator is specified in the third argument as a period.

Now let’s take a second example. When we input the formula ‘=NUMBERVALUE(“10%”), the function will return 0.10. This is so as no optional arguments are specified and, hence, Excel took the current locale. The function calculates the percentage, although the symbol is not shown.

Example 2

When the text argument ends in one or more than one percent signs (%), they will be used in the calculation of the result.

Let’s take an example. If we give the following formulas, the results will vary, as shown below:

As seen above, when the text argument included multiple percent signs, Excel considered each sign and produced the results accordingly. It returned the same result as the formula =10%% would.

Example 3

Now let’s see how we can use the NUMBERVALUE function along with other Excel functions. Suppose there is a column representing a few numbers. The numbers are in centimeters so “cm” is written at the end of the number.

If we wish to get the average of the numbers, we won’t be able to do so by simply using the AVERAGE formula as “cms” is written in the cells. To get the average, we can use the formula: =AVERAGE(NUMBERVALUE(LEFT(B4:B11,3))).

If we simply press the Enter key, it will give us an error. We need to convert the original formula into an array formula. For this, we need to put in the formula in the cell and then press Ctrl-Shift-Enter to get the desired average. We can specify the number of decimals required using the decimal separator.

In column D, we used the same numbers and showed the AVERAGE result to check the accuracy of the original formula.

Notes about the NUMBERVALUE Function:

  • When the decimal_separator and group_separator arguments are not specified, the function will use the separators from the current locale.

  • We will get the result of 0 if we specify an empty string (“”) as the text argument.

  • #VALUE! error – Occurs in the following situations:

  • When the group separator occurs after the decimal separator in the text argument.

  • If the given arguments are invalid.

  • When decimal_separator is used more than once.

  • If there are any empty spaces in the text argument, they will be ignored. For example, ” 30 0 0 ” is returned as 3000.

  • If a decimal_separator or group_separator contains more than one character, only the first character is used.

  • #NUM error – Occurs when the group_separator occurs after the decimal separator.

  • When the group_separator occurs before the decimal separator, the group separator is ignored by the function.

Tips & Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the NUMBERVALUE function:

  • When dealing with large datasets, you can use the "Find and Replace" feature in Excel to quickly replace custom decimal and group separators with the default separators before using the NUMBERVALUE function.

  • If you need to convert an entire range of text numbers to numeric values, you can use the NUMBERVALUE function in combination with an array formula. For example, if you have a range of text numbers in A1:A10, you can use the following array formula to convert all of them to numeric values:

  • Keep in mind that the NUMBERVALUE function will return an error if the text argument contains non-numeric characters (other than the decimal and group separators). To handle such cases, you can use the IFERROR function to return a default value or a custom message:=IFERROR(NUMBERVALUE(A1), "Invalid number")

Part 3. VALUE vs NUMBERVALUE

The NUMBERVALUE and VALUE functions in Excel both deal with converting text representations of numbers into actual numeric values. However, they have different capabilities and purposes. Here's a comparison of the two functions, along with examples to illustrate their differences:

1. VALUE Function:

  • Purpose: The VALUE function in Excel is used to convert a text string that represents a number into an actual numeric value.

  • Syntax: The syntax of the VALUE function is simple:

  • text: This is the text string you want to convert into a number.

Example:

Suppose cell A1 contains the text "123" (as a string), and you want to convert it into a number for mathematical operations. You can use the VALUE function like this:

This formula will return the numeric value 123.

2. NUMBERVALUE Function:

  • Purpose: The NUMBERVALUE function, introduced after my last knowledge update in September 2021, is used to convert a number in text format into a numeric value. It allows you to specify the decimal and group separators, making it useful for handling locale-specific values.

  • Syntax: The syntax of the NUMBERVALUE function is as follows:

  • text (required): The text string representing the number you want to convert.

  • decimal_separator (optional): The character used as the decimal point in the text.

  • group_separator (optional): The character used as the thousands separator in the text.

Example:

Suppose you have a text string "1.234,56" that represents the number 1234.56 in a locale where a comma is used as the decimal separator and a period as the thousands separator. You can use the NUMBERVALUE function to convert it into a numeric value like this:

This formula would return the numeric value 1234.56.

3. Key Differences:

  • Functionality: The VALUE function is a basic text-to-number conversion function, while the NUMBERVALUE function is designed for more advanced conversions, especially when dealing with different decimals and thousands separators in various locales.

  • Arguments: The VALUE function takes only one argument (the text to be converted), whereas the NUMBERVALUE function can accept up to three arguments, allowing you to specify the separators.

  • Locale Handling: NUMBERVALUE is particularly useful for converting locale-specific number formats into a universal format, making it a better choice for international data.

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FAQs

1. Why Isn't My NUMBERVALUE Working?

If your NUMBERVALUE function isn't working as expected, consider the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Double-check the syntax of your formula and ensure that you have specified the correct arguments.

  • Make sure that the text argument contains a valid number with the correct decimal and group separators. If necessary, use the IFERROR function to handle cases where the text contains non-numeric characters.

  • If you're working with a range of text numbers, ensure that you're using an array formula with the correct syntax.

  • Check your system settings to confirm the default decimal and group separators. If necessary, adjust these settings or specify the correct separators in your NUMBERVALUE formula.

2. Why are my numbers not numbers in Excel?

If you're experiencing issues with numbers not behaving as expected in Excel, it could be due to a few common reasons. Here are some potential solutions:

Convert Into Number Format

You must format the cells to the number format to make Excel recognize them as numbers. You can achieve that by using the Format cells feature in Excel that modifies the format of the cells.

Step 1: Select all Cells and Press CTRL + 1 to open Format Cell Window.

Step 2: On the pop-up dialog box, select the Number Category and click Ok.

Step 3: Now all the data will convert into a Number Format.

Try Using the Value Function

The VALUE function in Excel converts text values into numbers. It also recognizes strings, dates, and times and converts them into numerals.

Using this formula, Excel will return 123 as a numeric value.

Example:

We will convert data in the Score column into Number Format using the VALUE function.

Step 1: Click in an empty cell and enter the formula,
=VALUE(cell)

Step 2: The VALUE function gives the numeric value of the selected cell (B2).

Step 3: Now Flash Fill to fill the remaining cells.

Using Paste Special Command

The paste special command can be helpful when you are copy-pasting data from external sources. It discards the source formatting and converts text into numbers, thus, making Excel recognize numbers.

Here is how to use the paste special command:

Step 1: Copy any of the empty cells.

Step 2: Select the data or cells you want to fix.

Step 3: Now press CTRL+ALT+V to open the Paste Special window.

Step 4: Select All in the Paste and Add in Operation Section > click OK.

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