Microsoft Fixes Excel Function That Was Breaking Scientific Data

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The update is available for Windows and macOS

In 2020, scientists decided to simply rework the alphanumeric characters they used to represent genes, rather than try to figure out the Excel function that interpreted their data as dates and automatically reformatted it. Recently, a member of the Excel team announced that the company is releasing an update for Windows and macOS.

Excel’s automatic conversions are designed to make entering certain types of frequently entered data, such as numbers and dates, easier and faster. But for scientists, this feature can corrupt input data, as a 2016 study found.

Microsoft Fixes Excel Function
Microsoft Fixes Excel Function

Microsoft Fixes Excel Function That Was Breaking Scientific Data

Microsoft detailed the update on its blog, adding an option in Settings to “Convert continuous letters and numbers to a date.” The update builds on the automatic data conversion settings the company added last year, which included Excel’s ability to let you load a file without automatic conversion so you can be sure the feature won’t mess anything up.

Microsoft’s blog has caveats – for example, Excel avoids conversion by storing data as text, which means the data may not work for further calculations. There is also a known issue where conversions cannot be disabled when running macros.

Also Read:   Microsoft has completed development of Windows 10X and will release the OS in spring 2021