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Excel 2010 changing numbers to "12:00 AM"

Posted on 2013-02-01
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Last Modified: 2013-02-08
Has anyone ever had a problem where Excel 2010 will change numbers that may be formatted as General, Currency, Dates or Times just change all the numbers so they display as "12:00 AM" and formatted as Time?  And then when you look in the formula bar, it will display both a date and time, but they're dates like 4/12/1909 or 8/24/2139.  It's just goofy.  So then you highlight the entire column, and change the formatting to GENERAL, and the original numbers that were typed in display just fine.  Why is this happening?  It's happening on more than one document, and the user says it's been happening since she's been upgraded to Excel 2010.  Some of her data is fine, and then others are not.  She is saving her files into the new .xlsx format.  Any suggestions?????

I've attached a file so you can see what I'm talking about.  Look at columns I and J.  The original file had more worksheets in it, but I deleted those.
Experts-exchange-file.xlsx
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Question by:esu4236
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6 Comments
 
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Faustulus earned 500 total points
ID: 38845659
Unfortunately, your problem is a common one and seems to be without fix.
In order to prevent Excel from converting your numbers into dates you must enter them as Text. Individually, you can do that by preceding each entry with an apostrophe. The apostrophe will not be displayed but Excel will treat the number as text and, therefore, not change it into a date. Collectively, you can change the number format to Text (not General) for the entire column. Unfortunately, you have to do this before Excel has done its conversion trick.
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Expert Comment

by:Flyster
ID: 38845764
The numbers you describe are normal for dates. We may enter 2/1/13, but Excel sees it as 41306, which is the number of days that have past since 1/1/1900. If you enter 41306, then format it as date and time you will get 2/1/13 12:00:00 AM. Enter 41306.00001 and it becomes 2/1/13 12:00:01 AM. Everything left of the decimal is the date and everything right is the time. When you enter 2/1/13, Excel automatically formats that cell to a date. If you copy and paste in a different cell, that cell will become a date also. SO, have I seen this done on it's own, no. I'm guessing the columns were originally formatted as a date which is why they're displayed as such.

Flyster
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Expert Comment

by:Faustulus
ID: 38847779
It isn't necessary for the cells to have been formatted as Date previously. Rather, the unwanted change seems associated with the upgrade to a newer version of Excel.
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Author Comment

by:esu4236
ID: 38851454
Yes, it definitely started happening after the upgrade.  The numbers were probably formatted as just GENERAL previous to the update, but then the system is changing them to a date format.

I am aware that Excel stores dates and times as serial numbers.  I really don't believe these columns were formatted as dates before.  

So nothing else we can do but to change the format back to General or Text?
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:Faustulus
ID: 38853546
If you have access to the original files you can format the columns to Text and THEN convert to a newer Excel version. The gurus say that this would prevent the conversion. If it doesn't there are other means of doing the same thing. However, once the data have been "converted" they have, effectively, been destroyed and can't be recovered.
So, I should ask the question: Is your problem that you lost data and want them back? The answer is no. Is your problem that you still have the data but can't use them in the newer version of Excel? Try formatting as Text and see if that helps. If it doesn't help, insert a helper column, convert the data using the TEXT() function, replace the formulas by values (Copy/PasteSpecial: Values) and then replace the original column with the helper column.
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Author Closing Comment

by:esu4236
ID: 38869070
Thanks for the input on this!
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