Microsoft fixes the Excel feature that was wrecking scientific data

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Caloin - In 2020, scientists decided conscionable to rework nan alphanumeric symbols they utilized to correspond genes alternatively than effort to woody pinch an Excel characteristic that was interpreting their names arsenic dates and (un)helpfully reformatting them automatically. Yesterday, a member of nan Excel squad posted that nan institution is rolling retired an update connected Windows and macOS to hole that.

Excel’s automatic conversions are intended to make it easier and faster to input definite types of commonly entered information — numbers and dates, for instance. But for scientists utilizing speedy shorthand to make things legible, it could ruin published, peer-reviewed data, arsenic a 2016 study found.

Microsoft elaborate nan update successful a blog station this week, adding a checkbox branded “Convert continuous letters and numbers to a date.” You tin astir apt conjecture what that toggles. The update builds connected nan Automatic Data Conversions settings nan institution added past year, which included nan action for Excel to pass you erstwhile it’s astir to get other adjuvant and fto you load your record without automatic conversion truthful you tin guarantee thing will beryllium screwed up by it.

A screenshot of nan updated Excel settings, showing respective branded cheque boxes.

The updated Excel settings.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft’s blog adds caveats, specified arsenic that Excel avoids nan conversion by redeeming nan information arsenic text, which intends nan information whitethorn not activity for calculations later. There’s besides a known rumor wherever you can’t disable nan conversions erstwhile moving macros.

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