Software

Office challenge: Why does Word convert some fractions and not others?

Review the many responses to last week's Excel challenge and test your skills at this week's new challenge in Word.

A user entering fractions calls you. Sometimes Word converts the fraction and sometimes Word doesn't. The user, as you might imagine, wants all fractions to be of similar style. How would you help this user?

Last week we asked…

Why is SUM() returning different results for the same values? There were a number of responses—this is a good page to bookmark for future reference. Spadurar was the first to respond and mentioned using the wrong operator between the cell references. For most of us, that means entering a comma instead of the colon character, which isn't likely. However, if your regional setting uses a semi-colon, as Spadurar suggests, you might see this happen regularly. It's a possibility I hadn't considered.

Most of the responses involve rounding or formatting that masks an underlying value, which are definitely something to look for when trying to resolve this kind of discrepancy. The first to mention what I think might be the most common cause was Massonjj. Excel doesn't mathematically evaluate numbers entered as text. Ppg pointed out that by disabling the error message and right aligning the text value, you further complicate the problem by removing all visual clues to what's wrong. You probably wouldn't do this, but one of your users might. You might be surprised how often I run into this sort of thing; this was the problem that prompted this challenge.

The actual incident that inspired this challenge aside, I am impressed with the level of experience and knowledge you shared. I knew that the text value wasn't the only possibility, but you guys mentioned a few things I hadn't even considered! Thank you for a truly great challenge!

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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