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The use of a single quote does not necessarily preclude calcualtions, at least when the numbers represent dates. I use a spreadsheet (E2K3) where the dates are in a format '6/26/2009 and then I subtract one from the other to get the days between the dates, if it turns out to be the same day, I use an "if" function to set the value to 1. To take '1/2 and subtract '1/4 from it gives an overflow of negative dates or times are displayed as ####### type error. to go the other way '1/4-'1/2 (two cells) gives an answer of 1/2/1900, so Excel still treats them as dates, not fractions. Cell format is General Number. Setting the 1/2 and 1/4 cells as fractions and then subtracting gives a whole number (+ or -) depending on which way it is subtracted.