Convert Decimal to Fractions in Google Sheets (2 Easy Ways)

Google Sheets is a smart spreadsheet tool that has been made to be user intuitive. This means that sometimes when you enter data in Google Sheets, it will try to understand what you mean and help you with it.

But sometimes, that’s not what you want.

One such case is when you try to enter fractions in Google Sheets and it converts these fractions into dates.

fraction entered as date

Or if you try and enter a mixed fraction that has a whole number and the fraction, it would interpret it as a text value.

Fraction entered as text

And sometimes you may have a decimal value that you want to convert to a fraction, and you can’t because Google Sheets does not interpret what you enter as a fraction.

Thankfully, there’s a really simple workaround to this (which is already built-in in Google Sheets)

In this tutorial, I will show you two really simple ways to convert decimal values into fractions (using custom number formatting and formulas)

So let’s get started!

Convert Decimals to Fractions Using Custom Number Formatting

With Custom Number Formatting, you can change how your value appears in the cell (without changing the actual value in the center).

So if you have a decimal value, you can format it in such a way that it shows up as a fraction. and at the same time, you can also use it in calculations (just like you would have used the decimal number).

Suppose you have the below decimal numbers in a column in Google Sheets and you want to show all of these as fractions.

Data where decimal need to be converted to fractions

Below are the steps to do this:

  1. Select the cells that have the decimal values that you want to convert to fractions
  2. Click on the Format option in the menuClick the Format option
  3. In the options that show up, hover the cursor over the Number optionHover the cursor on Number
  4. In additional options that show up, Go to More Formats and then click on ‘Custom number format’Click on Custom Number format option
  5. In the Custom number format dialog box that opens up, enter the following format:
    # ?/?

    Enter the format in Custom number format dialog box

  6. Click on Apply

Before link steps would change the format of the cell so that the decimal numbers now show up as fractions.

Decimals converted to fractions

How does this custom format work?

The above format has three different symbols:

  • # – it represents a digit in the number, and would not show the insignificant 0. For example, if a number in the cell is 10 and the format is ###, it would still show 10 and not 010 (as the first 0 is insignificant)
  • / – a forward slash is used to show fractions
  • ? – just like hash, a ? also represents a digit in the number and would also not show the insignificant 0, but the insignificant 0 will appear as space

The upper format makes sure that in case there is a decimal number, it follows the fraction format and shows the whole number and the fraction part (where the fractions would only consist of single digits)

In case you want the fractions to have two digits in the numerator and the denominator, you can use the below format:

# ??/??

If you’re still confused about the difference between #, 0, and ? and how to use these for fractions, below is a table where I have shown the result of all the three formats (where the formats used is mentioned in the yellow cells)

Different Fraction Custom Formatting and results

Convert Decimals to Fractions Using TEXT function

You can also use the TEXT formula to convert your decimal number into a fraction by specifying the format in which you want that fraction.

This works in a similar way as the custom number formatting method covered above, with one difference – the result of the formula is a text value.

One benefit of using this method over the custom number formatting method is that you can combine the result of the text formula with other text/numbers.

Suppose you have the below decimal numbers in a column in Google Sheets and you want to show all of these as fractions.

Data where decimal need to be converted to fractions

Below is the formula that will give you the resulting fraction (as text):

=TEXT(A2,"# ??/??")

 

Text formula to convert decimal to fractions

The TEXT formula takes 2 arguments:

  • the reference of the cell that has the value that you want to convert into a fraction
  • The format that you want to apply to the result

If you need to change the format of the cells later, you can simply edit the second argument of the TEXT function

Converting Decimals to Fractions with a Fixed Denominator

In some cases, you may want to convert a number into a decimal value but have a fixed denominator.

For example, you may always want the denominator to be 5 or 10. This can easily be done by changing the format code.

Suppose you have a dataset as shown below and you want to convert these decimals to fractions while having 10 as the denominator in the fraction.

Data where decimal need to be converted to fractions

Below is the formula that will do this:

=TEXT(A2,"# ?/10")

Text formula to show a fixed denominator

In the above formula, I have specified the denominator of the fraction as 10. Why converting a number from decimal to fraction, Google Sheets will make sure that it complies with the denominator that I have specified.

So 5.1 would become 5 1/10 and 5.2 would become 5 2/10.

In case you want to use any other denominator, specify that instead of 10 in the above formula.

If you want to use the Custom number format method instead of the formula, use the same format used in the formula and put it in the ‘Custom number format’ dialog box

Here are some popular fraction formats that might come in handy:

  • Up to two digits: # ??/??
  • Up to three digits: # ???/???
  • As halves: # ?/2
  • As quarters; # ?/4
  • As eighths: # ?/8
  • As sixteenth: # ??/16
  • As tenths: # ?/10
  • As hundreds: # ??/10

So these are some easy ways that you can use to convert decimals to fractions in Google Sheets. using the different format notations, you can also specify the format of the fraction number that you want.

I hope you found this tutorial useful.

Other Google Sheets tutorials you may also like:

Sumit

Sumit

Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel Expert.