Using the Numbers Convert Function

You can use CONVERT to convert numbers from one unit to another. Convert distances from meters to feet, temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius, and so on. You can also use cell formatting to attach unit symbols to numbers.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using the Numbers Convert Function.

In this episode let's take a look at the convert function in Numbers. What it does is it converts a number from one unit to another. So, for instance, let's do something with distance here.

So let's have a column here distance in meters. Say we want to convert that to distance in feet. So let's put a number here like 100 meters and we'll use the convert function. I'll hit the equals key, type convert, and thenI'll look up the convert function here so I'll know what we're dealing with.

You can see here it takes three parameters. The number, the from unit, and the to unit. So as an example would be convert 9 from pounds to kilograms. Where do these strings come from? Well, there's a whole list of them and you have to be exact. For instance, if you want to convert from grams you want to use lower case g.

So let's go and take a look for distance units. We can see meter is lower case m. Let's click here for the number. So we want to convert the number in this cell. Let's put in quotes lower case m and we're going to convert to feet. So we can see ft, lower case, like that. And I get my conversion there. So 100 meters is 328 and change in feet. I can copy and paste this formula a couple of times here and we can try different things. Like 120, 40 meters, 1000 meters. Now we get nice conversions there.

We can do this with other types of things as well. For instance, temperature in let's say celsius, or let's say Fahrenheit over here to convert form metric the other way. Temperature celsius. So let's look at temperatures like 72 degrees, 32 degrees, 212 for instance and let's use the conversion function to convert this cell. We want to look here for convert. We want to make sure we're using the right thing. Sure enough when we look down we see all these different type units. Force units, pressure units, energy, power, magnetism, everything. So here is temperature and we see that it's Capital C or cel in lower case. Capital F or fah in lower case for Fahrenheit. We'll use the capital letters there. Convert from F to C and there's the result. Copy and paste that formula there and we can see, sure enough, that 32 Fahrenheit is 0 celsius and 212 is 100 and we can copy and paste this here to get different numbers. For instance, 0 degrees Fahrenheit is negative almost -18 degrees celsius.

So while we're here let's actually use cell formatting to make this a little bit more readable. I'm going to select these cells here. Let's actually select this entire column. Go to Cell, Data Format and we can create a custom format that adds the string m for meters. So we can see an example here. I hit okay and you can see these all change very nicely to 100m, 120m, etc. The format is picked up from here since the only cell we're using in this formula is using this format. It picks it up. So we want set another data format here. We're going to say ft afterwards. We can actually assign this a name. Now you can see that we get some nice units there.

We can even go over here and do it for temperature. Create a custom format called f for Fahrenheit. I'm going to use option zero 0 to get the little degree symbol and set that for Fahrenheit and then we'll do a similar thing here for celsius. So option zero, C, so the units can kind of tell the story here instead of having these little things in parentheses. That goes really nicely with the convert function.

So look into the convert function. Read all the help. There's some useful stuff. It's important to get the unit names right. Capital F or lower case m. Whatever it is. So you always want to use the help there to look up the units that you're trying to convert from and to.

Comments: 5 Responses to “Using the Numbers Convert Function”

    2 years ago

    As cool as the CONVERT function is, the custom formatting is nice, too. Thanks!

    2 years ago

    on meters to feet what formula can i use to show meters to feet + inches
    first cell you had 328.08 feet so how do i show instead on .08 of a foot
    328 feet 1 inch

    2 years ago

    David: There’s no simple way to do that. You can create a complex formula to pull out the integer and the decimal and then add the strings feet and inches, and then place that in another column. Then hide the initial column.

    Jacques Levy
    2 years ago

    The speaker slurred a word in the instructions for accessing the conversion function, so I could not completely follow the example. In the example provided, he began to show how to convert distance in meters to distance in feet. Then he said, “hit the ??????? key…and then convert…” Which key is it that permits access to the conversion function? In general this speaker does not enunciate many words, reducing the effectiveness of his presentation.

    2 years ago

    Jacques: The speaker? You mean me? Sorry about that. I just try to be myself when making these videos and sometime my enthusiasm means I talk too fast. That’s one of the reasons I include a transcript under the video.
    You can begin entering in formulas in Numbers many different ways. I prefer to hit the equals (=) key and then start typing the formula — that is what I believe you are looking for here.

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