Question about Microsoft EXCEL 2004 for Mac

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I have been sent a spreadsheet that has a column of numbers that looks as follows;


I need to be able to match this column with data in another workbook which has these numbers stored without the apostrophe character. My VLOOKUP formula won't work and I think its because of the delimited character. How do I fix this?

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  • Kayw Dec 18, 2007

    Wow that was fast thank you. I appreciate the very clear explanation. I have no technical expertise so can you help me with a step-by-step guide. First in terms of your response - The file in which I will have to add the apostrophe to the number has about 7000 rows so what is the quick way to do this?

    The second part of my question relates to what i am looking to do with the data. These are Unique Identity Numbers stored:

    Workbook A has ID Numbers with the apostrophe
    Workbook B without the apostrophe.

    I have to identify which ID Numbers in Workbook A are also in Workbook B and i will then need to delete the matching numbers in Workbook B. File A has way more records than than file B. Thanks again for your help.

  • Kayw Dec 19, 2007

    Thank you very much. Let me see what I can do. Happy with VLOOKUP which is what I wanted to use but thought it might not be right.

    My last question then - if its easier to take the character out, how can I do that?

  • Kayw Dec 21, 2007

    Brilliant - thank you so much you have been very helpful. Hooray I have managed to strip out the apostrophe character

  • Kayw Dec 24, 2007

    I am back again with a new problem. I managed to strip the comma from all the ID Numbers. However my VLOOKUP formula won't work and it seems the reason is because no matter what I have tried, these ID Numbers are not converting to values. Even though the cell format appears to be General or Number, I think Excel is still reading the column as text (ID numbers remain stubbornly left justified) If it would help, I could mail a sample of the files to you? This data was pulled from SAP sent to me as an Excel file.



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The short of it is this ...
Match the data in each location and store it the same way. As a number or as a string. I would say, looking at your data, that these are probably strings of numbers. Put the apostrophe in front of both pieces of data at both locations so they match. I tried a simple test in Excel and adding the apostrophe in front of all the uses of this data will match everything.

The long of it is this ...
Now, I don't know your technical expertise, but I'll try to put it simply. The hard part to understand in database and data storage, is that not all numbers are numbers.

For example, a phone number 8005551212 is not a number. It's a string of numbers. This is because every single position from the 8 to the 2 is a significant position. Another example is a a social security number. The arbitrary SSN of 002003421 is a string of numbers. The first two 0's will be stripped off in Excel if put in as a number, thus ALL number but be retained in their original significant position.

The apostrophe (added by the user) forces Excel interpret the cell data as a string, instead of number, preserving all the characters in their original form, and doesn't try and tinker with the formatting.

The other reason is that the data you've provided is WAY BIG for a number. Not a lot of systems in the world will do calculations against such big numbers. This is why I "guess" that they should be strings (adding the apostrophe to the front of the data in the cell).

How do you know if data should be stored as a string or as a number. The tall tale question is "will I be using these numbers in calculations." If you do, it's a number, if not, it's a string (add the apostrophe). A second question could be "do I need all positions to retain their original information" as a literal.

Please ask any questions.

Posted on Dec 18, 2007

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  • Greg Wright
    Greg Wright Dec 19, 2007

    You're welcome.

    To update the records with an apostrophe, use one of these options:

    1. One by one update each cell with the apostrophe (monotonous)

    2. Programming using Visual Basic (harder)

    3. Use a database with a string data type

    4. Use a third-party application that allows you to modify data easier (UltraEdit, in column mode or Search/Replace the "^P" with "^P'")
    It's easy to take a character out, but it's harder to add it. I use an application called UltraEdit and it allows me to modify data, prepend or postpend any characters and then put it back in Excel. That's beyond the scope of this question/solution. That starts to approach some contract work for hire.

    For the second questions if you are using Excel 2007, which I use, there is a button on Data Ribbon bar called "Remove Duplicates". This will help you.

    If you don't have Excel 2007, but Excel 2003, then you can use the VLOOKUP to see if the Lookup reference indicates if it exists, and then remove the cells that don't have a match.

  • Greg Wright
    Greg Wright Dec 21, 2007

    You can use the Find and Replace feature. Look for ' with the Options to look in selection or column only and then replace it with "" (nothing, empty string). Don't put anything in the replace box.

    It's easier, but you may not want to do this, because the values that have leading zeros, will disapper, if this doesn't matter, then you're that much closer to having them match.

  • Greg Wright
    Greg Wright Dec 27, 2007

    Make sure you have set both range columns to the Format of Numbers with 0 decimals. So you'll have to keep trying until you can set the columns this way until it works for you.



HOORAY with your help and a bit of fiddling about, I have done the whole job. Thank you thank you thank you

Posted on Dec 27, 2007


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