How To Display A Dash In Excel

To display a dash (-) as the first character in a cell in Microsoft Excel (so it isn’t interpreted as a mathematical symbol), prefix the dash with an apostrophe, like so:

'- This value begins with a dash.

I’ve been programming in VBA for Excel and other products since VBA first came out, but I’m not an expert at using them as they were intended; I’d rather create a function to do some manipulation than create a formula, though I know a formula is often more efficient.

5 Replies to “How To Display A Dash In Excel”

  1. What if you wanted to subtract “fart” from “butt”? You couldn’t do butt-fart anymore, since it’s now a string!

  2. Jody, another way to do it is to format the cell as Text. Use Format * Cell. In the Number tab, choose Text from the Category list.

    • Actually, formatting the cell as text doesn’t always work with this issue. I had some dashes that needed to be entered before and after letters in certain cells for a spreadsheet I’m working on. Even after formatting those cells as text, I was still unable to enter any dashes without them being turned into formulas. I also tried using multiple dashes, spaces, etc. Nothing worked, until I saw this site. Jody, your apostrophe trick worked like a charm. THANK YOU!

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