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# Be careful of E between numbers in Excel

You need to be careful when working with codes/ unique ID’s that have the letter E between numbers. We discovered this while assisting a client on MRI Property Software (formerly MDA), but it will be applicable to any system that could result in the letter E being between numbers when you are creating a unique ID.

## Example of inadvertent creation of a scientific notation number

In MRI Property Software (formally MDA), expense accounts are often prefixed with an E, e.g. e100 might be municipal expenses. In order to create a unique lookup reference in MS Excel, the property ID (which is a number in MRI Property software) is often joined together with the expense code with a CONCATENATE or similar function. So for example 4e102 means property 4, expense account 102. But when you try and use this in a SUMIF or SUMIFS you could get incorrect results.

As shown below, in cell D8 we have created a SUMIFS that adds up all the amounts in column D that matches the code 4e102. It should give the answer 0, as the matching row 4 has an amount of 0, but it is giving an answer of 120 which is adding up all 3 rows. So it is treating 4e102 as the same as 40e101 and 400e100 which reflects completely different buildings and different expense accounts.

## The reason Excel is confusing the E between numbers

The reason this is happening is because, while we are seeing

• property 4 expense account 102, versus
• property 40 expense account 101, versus
• property 400 expense account 100,

Excel is turning it into a very big number (e is used as scientific notation) so Excel is seeing

• 4 with 102 zeros after it in the first case, and
• 40 with 101 zeros after it in the second case, and
• 400 with 100 zeros after it in the third case.

The net effect is that all the ‘numbers’ are 4 with 102 zeros after it which means they are the same thing, which is why Excel includes them in the SUMIF result.

## How to stop Excel ‘seeing’ scientific notation in Unique IDs

The easiest way is to make sure the end result is never a number, with an E afterwards and another number after the E. You can achieve this by including a delimiter between the 2 items. We tend to use a | or – but it could almost be anything (probably not a space if you can avoid it).

As shown below, when the unique ID is something like 4|E102, Excel treats it as text and then gets the correct calculation.

## MRI Property Software (MDA) Consulting

If you are experiencing this type of problem, where Excel seems to be adding incorrectly, it could be a similar issue so be careful of E between numbers.

Other likely Excel ‘misunderstandings’ would include R on South African computers (R is the prefix for South African currency), so Excel might see R100 as 100 South African Rand instead of Recovery account 100.

Have a look at some of our consulting options including the work we have been doing with creating management accounts for MRI Property Software.

MDA Property Manager Excel Consulting

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The problem with starting Excel formula with plus