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How To Add Leading Zero in Excel

How to add leading zero in excel - full step by step guide on ajelix blog

In the world of data analysis and spreadsheet management, Excel stands as an indispensable tool. However, one common issue that often perplexes users is the disappearance of leading zeros from their data. Leading zeros are essential for maintaining the integrity of data, especially when dealing with codes, identification numbers, or dates. In this guide, we will show you how to add leading zeros in Excel to make your data look better.

Why Excel Removes Leading Zeros?

Excel assumes that data with leading zeros is numeric because it primarily designs for numeric data and not text. As a result, Excel cell automatically removes these leading zeros to avoid redundancy. While this may be suitable for certain datasets, it can lead to data inaccuracies and hinder data interpretation in specific scenarios.

Related Article: Move Row in Your Excel Spreadsheet

How To Add Leading Zeros?

Now, let’s explore various methods to add and keep leading zeros to your Excel data and overcome this issue effectively.

Method 1: Change Cell To Text Format

Formatting Cell Number to Text. The first method involves converting numeric values to text string format using the Format dialog feature.

By converting data to text, Excel number will preserve leading zeros. In order, to do that click on the cell you want to format with leading zeros. Go to the Home tab, click Format, and change the cell value to Text and put zeros.

Change cell format tot text to add zeros in the beginning

Screenshot from Excel with steps showing how to change the cell format to Text.

Keep in mind that changing cell formatting to text may affect your formulas and further work in your spreadsheet. See the next method to add zeros at the beginning of the cell by keeping the number formatting.

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Method 2: Change Cell Format To Custom

Accessing the Format Cells Dialog Box. Learn to access the Format Cells dialog box, where you can modify cell properties and preserve leading zeros through custom formatting.

Time needed: 1 minute

Best way to add leading zero in cell based on length

  1. Select the filed where you want to add leading zeros

    Simply mark your field or select multiple row or column for this activity.
    Select the field that you want to edit - screenshot from excel

  2. Click on Number in Excel Home Tab

    Access the Format Cells Tab by clicking on Number settings or right click on select multiple cells to open drop down.
    Click on number in excel tab to open format cells tab

  3. Select Custom and enter zeros depending on how many zeros you need

    Under the Type settings insert the zeros it can be either 000, 0000, 00000, to make 6 digits or more zeros. Depending on how many leading zeros you need in your spreadsheet. In our example, we inserted 6 zeros as we need to turn all numbers into 6-figure numbers.
    Select custom and enter zeros in excel format cells tab settings

  4. Now you have formatted cells into leading zeros

    Example with tables with leading zeros and without leading zeros

Here’s a quick video summary:

Create ZIP codes and serial numbers with leading zeros in #Excel #productivity #howto #tip

Using the Custom Option to Add Leading Zeros. Explore the custom formatting options within the Format Cells dialog box and tailor your cell formats to display leading zeros.

Related Article: How To Copy Formula Down?

Handling Leading Zeros in Dates

Addressing Issues with Excel Date Formatting: Dates often lose leading zeros in Excel column, resulting in incorrect representations. Explore solutions to retain leading zeros in date and time formats for improved data sets accuracy. In the example below you can see that the date in table is without zeros.

example with no leading zeros in date format - screenshot from excel

Here’s how To Insert Leading Zeros to Day and Month in Excel 365 column. Include leading zeros in date go to Format Cells Tab and click Date. Then search for the correct date format with preceding zeros.

How to change leading zeros in date - excel how to

After following the steps outlined above you’ll be able to add leading zeros in your date.

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Managing Leading Zeros in ZIP Codes and Postal Codes:

Preserving Leading Zeros in ZIP Codes: ZIP codes are crucial identifiers that require leading zeros for accuracy. Uncover methods to maintain leading zeros in ZIP code data effectively.

Dealing with International Postal Code Formats: Different countries use diverse postal code formats. Discover how to handle international postal codes and retain leading zeros for global data consistency.


With this guide, you now have the tools and knowledge to conquer the challenge of automatically add leading zeros in Excel. Ensure your data remains accurate, visually appealing, and most importantly, meaningful with this newfound expertise. Happy Excel-ing!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add leading zeros to dates in Excel?

Yes, you can add leading zeros to dates in Excel. When you deal with dates, you commonly encounter issues where you remove leading zeros, especially for days and months. To preserve leading zeros, you can use custom number formats.

How do I preserve leading zeros in ZIP codes and postal codes in Excel?

Preserving leading zeros to a string in ZIP codes and postal codes is crucial for data accuracy. To keep leading zeros, format the ZIP code or postal code cells as text before entering the data.
Select the non adjacent cells, right-click, choose “Format Cells,” and select the “Text” format in Excel tab. Alternatively, you can use the TEXT function to add leading zeros to the ZIP codes. If the ZIP code is in cell A2, use the formula “=TEXT(A2, “00000”)” to show five digits with leading zeros.

Can I apply leading zeros to multiple cells at once in Excel?

Yes, you can apply leading zeros to select cells at once in Excel. The most efficient way to achieve this is by using the CONCATENATE function along with the TEXT function.