Editor’s Note: Questions should be directed to the PC Doctor, care of the Athol Public Library at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at Athol Public Library, 568 Main St., Athol, MA 01331, or dropped off at the library.
Dear PC Doctor:
I’m using Excel to create a mailing list. For some reason, when I type the zip codes, the leading zero disappears, so 01331 ends up being 1331. Why is this happening? Is there a way to make the leading zero stick? I need it to be there for mailing labels.
Excel is stripping the leading zero from your zip codes because the program is registering the zip code as a number. Mathematically, that leading zero doesn’t have importance, so it gets erased. For the postal service, that zero is pretty important! Here’s how to make it stay:
Click at the top of the column in which you’ve typed your zip codes. The whole column will become highlighted. Right click your mouse so that you get a menu of action choices. Choose “Format Cells.” Under the “Number” tab, Choose “Category” and then click “Text.” This tells Excel to treat everything you type into that column as text, (or a word), and to leave it as you’ve typed it. From this point onward, any zip codes you type will retain the leading zeroes. You will, unfortunately, have to go back to any entries you’ve already made and re-type that leading zero.
Until next time...happy computing!