Excel Tip of the Week #279 - Revisiting N, T

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Hello all and welcome back to the Excel Tip of the Week!  This week, we have a General User post in which we're revisiting some tiny - but useful - little functions: N and T.  These functions were originally covered back in TOTW #104.

What do these functions do?

These functions are very simple functions that include and exclude certain types of data.  N only likes numbers, and ignores other types of data, and T only likes text.

Here's an example of what you might get out of these functions:

Data type Example result Result of N Result of T
Number 1234 1234
Date 05/03/2019 43529
Logic value TRUE 1
Logic value FALSE 0

Note that the apparently empty outputs of T are in fact "null text" - so functions like COUNTA will say that the cell is not empty, even though it appears to be.

The syntax for these functions is simple:

=N(data or cell reference)

=T(data or cell reference)

What use are these functions?

These are small, simple functions that can be used for "cleaning" data - provided that you paste values over them afterwords.  A similar result could also be achieved with the Go To Special feature here - see TOTW #102 for more details.

These functions are also useful for making sure that an input to a formula is of the expected type - because inappropriate types are converted to 0 / null text, inappropriate data of all kinds is condensed into only one.  So for example you could detect easily if an input was appropriate for a numerical calculation:


There's also a niche use of N for adding in-line comments to formulas:

Here the comment is embedded into the formula, but the N function means that the text has no actual effect on the result calculated.

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