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Excel and “big numbers”

⚠️ Excel and “big numbers” are a dangerous combination.
This is why:

Excel will replace any number after the 15th digit with a 0 without giving any error or warning.

For example, if you input the number “12345678901234567890” into a cell, Excel will silently change it to “12345678901234500000”.❗

This can lead to inaccurate calculations, data loss, and references to the wrong record altogether.

Be especially careful when dealing with the unique record identifier fields of databases, which often contain “long numbers”. Excel could corrupt these identifiers and you will unknowingly end up with thousands of false duplicate records.

In a nuthsell💊 : be aware of Excel’s limitations … and stay tuned to learn more about workarounds and best practice tips.

(Spoiler alert: you can still use Excel safely as long as you save the numbers as text, or – better yet – if you know a little bit about tables, Power Query and Power Pivot).