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
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
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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