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As a simple user, I see this "hidden" addition of the initial single 
quotation mark as a _BUG_, and as one of those basic "features" that 
work poorly in LibreOffice Calc than in several other spreadsheet 
tools. I don't know if this behavior can be "corrected" or improved.

As far as I understand it, the "hidden" initial quotation mark is what
marks the contents of the cell as text. This is the same in MS Excel,
IIRC. So basically, this isn't a bug, but intended behaviour, to give
you a way to specify that a number should be interpreted as text and
not as a number.

For example, if you enter "0283", the leading zero will always be
stripped, because it is interpreted as a number and the leading zero is
superfluous, but if you enter "'0283", then this means you have entered
a text string and the leading zero is kept. The format of the cell
doesn't change this behavior, it only changes the *display* of the
contents, not the interpretation of the contents. At least, as I
understand it.


Well, yes, but no :). In Excel and other spreadsheet tools, you 

1_ In an auxiliary non-formatted cell, insert the number 1.
2_ Copy that auxiliary cell.
3_ Select the cells with numbers that are currently formatted as 
'text' that you want to convert.
4_ Paste special (all), multiply.
5_ Delete the auxiliary cell.

If the desired format is not just a 'general' number, then you can 
format the auxiliary cell before copying it.

This simple procedure cannot be used in Calc, just because this 
"hidden" single quotation mark. This procedure is successful in other 
spreadsheet tools that use the single quotation mark too. So, why not 
in Calc?

BTW, the quotation mark is not necessary for all cells containing 
numbers formatted as text, but that's off-topic here. My point is 
still relevant: the aforementioned procedure should be plausible in 
Calc, just as it is in other spreadsheet tools.

There are workarounds, like using the 'VALUE' function in an 
auxiliary column and then copy+paste back; yet I still wonder about 
this hidden (annoying) single quotation mark.


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