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OpenOffice 3.x Getting Started Guide
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Entering numbers as text

If a number is entered in the format 01481, Calc will drop the leading 0. (Exception: see Tip below.) To preserve the leading zero, for example for telephone area codes, type an apostrophe before the number, like this: '01481.

The data is now regarded as text by Calc. Formulas and functions will treat the entry like any other text entry, which typically results in it being a zero in a formula, and being ignored in a function.

Image:Tip.png Numbers can have leading zeros and be regarded as numbers (as opposed to text) if the cell is formated appropriately. Right-click on the cell and chose Format Cells > Numbers. Adjust the leading zeros setting to add leading zeros to numbers.
Image:documentation_note.png When using an apostrophe to allow a leading 0 to be displayed, the apostrophe is not visible in the cell after the Enter key is pressed—if the apostrophe is a plain apostrophe (not a “smart quote” apostrophe). If “smart quotes” are selected for apostrophes, the apostrophe remains visible in the cell.

To choose the type of apostrophe, use Tools > AutoCorrect > Custom Quotes. The selection of the apostrophe type affects both Calc and Writer.

Image:documentation_caution.png When a number is formatted as text care must be taken that the cell containing the number is not used in a formula since Calc will ignore the value.

OpenOffice 3.x Getting Started Guide
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