Different ways to add zeroes (0s) in front in Excel

In this article, we will learn Different ways to add zeroes (0s) in front in Excel.


Adding Zero in front of the number in Excel. Default Excel doesn't take zeros in front of the number in the cell. Have you ever tried to enter some data like 000123 into Excel? You’ll probably quickly notice Excel will automatically remove the leading zeros from the input number. This can be really annoying if you want those leading zeros in data and don’t know how to make Excel keep them. Fortunately there are quite a few ways to pad your numbers with zeros at the start. In this article, I’ll explain different ways to add or keep those leading zeros to your numbers.

Different functions to add zero (0) in front

As we know TEXT function is the most used function to add 0 in front but here I’ll explain more ways to add zeros (0s) to numbers.

  1. TEXT function
  2. RIGHT function
  3. BASE function
  4. Add 0 in pivot table values

Format as Text

One of the solutions is converting the format of the number to text because if we input 00xyz, excel considers this value as text and keeps its 0 in front. There are different ways to convert a number cell to text format. 

  • Using Custom format
  • Using TEXT function
  • Using Apostrophe ( ' ) in start of value while input

Custom Format

Let's understand these methods one by one. Using a custom format to change the format is the easiest way to change the already existing numbers in range. Just select the range and Use shortcut Ctrl + 1 or select More number format from the drop down list on the Home tab showing General.

Change the format from General to Text.

  1. Select the range of cells you want to enter leading zeros in.
  2. Go to the Home tab.
  3. In the Numbers section click on the Format Dropdown selection.
  4. Choose Text from the format options.

Now if you try to enter numbers with leading zeros, they won’t disappear because they are entered as text values instead of numbers. Excel users can add a custom formatting to format numbers with leading zeros.

They will only appear to have leading zeros though. The underlying data won’t be changed into text with the added zeros.

Add a custom format to show leading zeros.

  1. Select the range of cells you want to add leading zeros to and open up the Format Cells dialog box.
    • Right click and choose Format Cells.
    • Use the Ctrl + 1 keyboard shortcut.
  2. Go to the Number tab.
  3. Select Custom from the category options.
  4. Add a new custom format in the Type input. If you want the total number of digits including any leading zeros to be 6 then add 000000 as the custom format.
  5. Press the OK button.

TEXT Function

The TEXT function will let you apply a custom formatting to any number data already in your spreadsheet.

= TEXT ( Value, Format)

  • Value – This is the value you want to convert to text and apply formatting to.
  • Format – This is the formatting to apply.

= TEXT ( B3, "000000" )

If you wanted to add zeros to a number in cell B3 so that the total number of digits is 6, then you can use the above formula.

Using Apostrophe ( ' ) in start

You can force Excel to enter a number as text by using a leading apostrophe.

This means you’ll be able to keep those zeros in front as you’re entering your data.

This method is quick and easy while entering data. Just type a ' character before any numbers. This will tell Excel the data is meant to be text and not a number.

When you press Enter, the leading zeros will stay visible in the worksheet. The ' will not be visible in the worksheet, but is still there and can be seen in the formula bar when the active cell cursor is on the cell.

RIGHT Function

Another way to get your zeros in front with a formula is using the RIGHT function. You can concatenate a string of zeros to the number and then slice off the extras using the RIGHT function.

The RIGHT function will extract the rightmost N characters from a text value.

= RIGHT ( Text, [Number])

  • Text – This is the text you want to extract characters from.
  • Number (Optional)- This is the number of characters to extract from the text. If this argument is not entered, then only the first character will be extracted.

= RIGHT ( "000000" & B3, 6 )

The above formula will concatenate several zeros to the start of a number in cell B3, then it will return the rightmost 6 characters resulting in some leading zeros.

BASE Function

You’ll notice this article describes 9 ways to add leading zeros, but my YouTube video only shows 8 ways.

That’s because I didn’t know you could use the BASE function to add leading zeros until someone mentioned it in the video comments.

The BASE function allows you to convert a number into a text representation with a given base.

The numbers you usually use are base 10, but you could use this function to convert a base 10 number into a base 2 (binary) representation.

= BASE ( Number, Base, [MinLength])

  • Number – This is the number you want to convert to a text value in another base.
  • Base – This is the base you want to convert the value to.
  • MinLength (Optional) – This is the minimum length of the characters of the converted text value.

Use the formula


The above formula will convert a number in cell B3 into base 10 (it’s already a base 10 number but this will keep it as base 10) and convert it to a text value with at least 6 characters. If the converted value is less than 6 characters, it will pad the value with zeros to get a minimum of 6 characters.

Definitely a cool new use for a function I otherwise never use.

Add zero (0) only in front of numbers not on text values

Here we will consider the scenario which covers both text and numbers values in the same list. Now excel considers each cell different in terms of format. Now how to let excel know that if the cell has a number value then add 0 in front or else if the cell has text or any other value, then leave it as it is. 

For this we will use a combination of two functions IF and ISNUMBER function. Here we have some values to try on.

The Generic formula goes on like 

=IF(ISNUMBER(cell_ref),"0"&cell_ref, cell_ref)


cell_ref :  cell reference of the corresponding cell

Use the formula in cell

=IF(ISNUMBER(F3),"0"&F3, F3)

Explanation: The ISNUMBER function checks the cell for number. IF function checks if the cell has a number then it adds zero in front of the number else it just returns the cell value.

As you can see in the above image the zero (0) is added in front of the number. Let's check if this function works on other values. Copy the formula in other cells, select the cells taking the first cell where the formula is already applied, use shortcut key Ctrl+D

it will pad the value with zeros to get a minimum of one zero in front of characters. Definitely a cool new use for a function I otherwise never use.

Power Pivot Calculated Column

There is another option to add zeros into the pivot table. You can add them into a calculated column in Power Pivot. This way you can use the new column in the Filter, Rows or Column area of a pivot table.

= FORMAT ( Numbers[Number], "000000" )

In the Power Pivot add-in, you can add a new column and use the FORMAT function to create leading zeros in the column with a formula like above. A calculated column calculates a value for each row, so there is no need to wrap the function inside a cell. Now you can use this new column inside a pivot table’s Rows area just like any other column of data.


It can be frustrating to see all your zeros disappear when we don’t know why it’s happening or how to prevent it. As you can see, there are lots of ways to make sure all those zeros stick around in your data. Whatever your requirement, there is surely a good solution for you. 

Here are all the observational notes using the formula in Excel
Notes :

  1. The formula can be used for both texts and numbers.
  2. The find and replace text should be sorted in a table. As we use indexes to find and replace, make sure that 'find' text has the same index as 'replace' text. It is better to have both lists side by side as we have in the second example.
  3. The generic formula has two SUBSTITUTE functions. You will need as many substitute functions as many you have replacements to do.
  4. wildcards help with extracting value from the substrings.
  5. The function supports logical operators like <, >, <>, = but these are used using double quote sign ( " ) with arguments. But if you are using cell reference for the criteria quotes can be ignored.
  6. Criteria argument should use quote sign (") for texts ( like "Gillen" ) or numbers ( like ">50" ).

Hope this article about Different ways to add zeroes (0s) in front in Excel is explanatory. Find more articles on calculating values and related Excel formulas here. If you liked our blogs, share it with your friends on Facebook. And also you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We would love to hear from you, do let us know how we can improve, complement or innovate our work and make it better for you. Write to us at info@exceltip.com.

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    • Hi,
      You can split numbers from string and sum them up. You can use this article,


  1. Maybe this helps, I tried it seems to work out fine.
    select the cells
    Cell properties
    custom : \0#

    It will add a 0.

    when saving to .csv and rename to file to .txt you will see the 0 added.

    Name 4,055555
    above ones with \0#

    below is default
    Name 4,55555

    • use Concatenate Function to add 0 in front of a text
      understand concatenate function here

  2. I want to use the zero in front of any number only in some cells, those are account numbers. Since the accounts belong to different banks so they all needn't zero in front of them.

    This means What I type that should remain in that format only, like Word. But while I use TEXT format in Excel, it converts them in SCIENTIFIC format, Then I've to click each of them to correct formatting of each such cell.

    Isn't that possible to make a formula to convert the numbers (in the pasted sheets of 'Word' into 'Excel') starting with a special number must have zero & remains not?

  3. What if the cell you want to add a 0 in front of includes numbers and text? For example, I want to add a 0 in front of:

    909 - Design Project Engineer
    910 - Design Project Engineer II

    • You can use concatenation, explained here in detail.

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