How to Keep Leading Zeros in Excel: A step-by-step guide

Keeping leading zeros in Excel can be a bit tricky, but it’s definitely doable. Have you ever typed a number like “007” into Excel, only to have it show up as “7”? Frustrating, isn’t it? Well, worry no more! By following a few simple steps, you can make sure Excel keeps those important leading zeros intact.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Keep Leading Zeros in Excel

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s get one thing straight: Excel usually drops leading zeros because it perceives the data as a number, and numbers don’t start with zeros (except in some special cases). But with these steps, we’ll show Excel who’s boss!

Step 1: Select the cells where you want to keep the leading zeros

Click and drag your mouse over the cells where you want to keep the leading zeros. This tells Excel exactly where to apply the changes.

Step 2: Open the Format Cells dialog box

Right-click on the selected cells, then choose ‘Format Cells…’ from the context menu. This is where the magic happens!

Step 3: Choose ‘Text’ format

In the Format Cells dialog box, under the ‘Number’ tab, select ‘Text’ from the category list. This changes the cell format to text, which makes Excel treat the content as literal text, not numbers.

Step 4: Click ‘OK’

After selecting ‘Text’, simply click ‘OK’ to apply the formatting. Now, any data entered into these cells will be displayed exactly as typed.

Once you’ve completed these steps, Excel will stop dropping those pesky zeros and display your data precisely as you want it.

What Happens After Completing the Action

After completing these steps, the selected cells will be formatted as text. This means that anything you enter into these cells will be treated as text, even if it looks like a number. So, if you type “007”, Excel will happily keep it as “007”.

Tips on How to Keep Leading Zeros in Excel

  • Always format the cells before entering the data to prevent losing any leading zeros.
  • If you’re working with numbers that need calculations, keep in mind that text-formatted cells cannot be used in mathematical functions.
  • If you import data from another source, check the import settings to ensure that leading zeros are preserved.
  • Use custom formatting, like “00000”, to maintain a specific number of leading zeros.
  • If you want to convert text back to numbers but keep the leading zeros, use a formula like “=TEXT(A1,”00000″)”.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I keep leading zeros when importing data into Excel?

When importing data, choose the ‘Text’ format for columns that contain numbers with leading zeros. This will ensure Excel treats them as text and preserves the zeros.

Can I perform calculations on numbers with leading zeros in Excel?

No, not directly. If the cells are formatted as text to keep the leading zeros, you’ll need to convert them back to numbers without leading zeros to perform calculations.

Is there a way to keep leading zeros without changing the cell format to text?

Yes, you can use custom formatting to specify the exact number of digits you want, including leading zeros. However, this method doesn’t work if the number of digits varies.

Will leading zeros be preserved if I save my Excel file as a CSV?

Generally, no. CSV files do not carry over formatting from Excel, so leading zeros are likely to be dropped. Keep your file in Excel format, or use double quotation marks around your numbers in the CSV to preserve leading zeros.

Can I use Excel formulas to add leading zeros to numbers?

Absolutely! Use the TEXT function, like so: =TEXT(A1,”00000″), where A1 is the cell with your number, and “00000” is the format showing the total number of digits you want.


  1. Select the cells.
  2. Open the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Choose ‘Text’ format.
  4. Click ‘OK’.


Mastering the art of keeping leading zeros in Excel is a worthwhile skill that can save you from a lot of frustration. Whether you’re dealing with product codes, ZIP codes, or any other type of data where those zeros matter, following the steps outlined above will help you maintain the integrity of your data. Remember, Excel is a powerful tool, but only if you know how to bend it to your will. So go ahead, give these steps a try, and take control of those leading zeros once and for all! And if you ever find yourself stuck, just come back to this guide for a quick refresher. Excel can be a tough nut to crack, but with a little know-how, you can make it work for you. Keep leading zeros in Excel and keep your data looking sharp!

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