Google Sheets Data Conversion Guide in 5 Steps

Jason Gong
LAST UPDATED
June 6, 2024
TL;DR

Use the CONVERT function to easily switch units in Google Sheets.

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The CONVERT function in Google Sheets is a powerful tool that allows you to easily convert values from one unit of measurement to another. Whether you need to convert currencies, lengths, weights, or temperatures, the CONVERT function simplifies the process and saves you time. In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through how to use the CONVERT function effectively, including understanding its syntax, exploring various unit categories, and troubleshooting common errors.

Understanding the Basics of CONVERT Function

The CONVERT function in Google Sheets is a built-in tool that allows you to easily convert values from one unit of measurement to another. Its primary use is to streamline the process of unit conversion, saving you time and effort when working with data that involves different units.

The general syntax of the CONVERT function is as follows:

CONVERT(value, start_unit, end_unit)

  • value: The numeric value you want to convert, expressed in the starting unit.
  • start_unit: The unit of measurement currently assigned to the value.
  • end_unit: The target unit of measurement you want to convert the value to.

It's crucial to understand these three parameters to effectively use the CONVERT function. By providing the correct value, start_unit, and end_unit, you can convert between a wide range of units across various categories, such as weight, distance, time, pressure, energy, and more.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Using CONVERT Function

To use the CONVERT function in Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  1. Open a Google Sheets spreadsheet and select a cell where you want to apply the CONVERT function.
  2. Type "=CONVERT(" in the cell, followed by the value you want to convert, a comma, the starting unit, another comma, and the target unit. Close the parentheses.
  3. For example, to convert 10 feet to inches, type: =CONVERT(10, "ft", "in")
  4. Press Enter to see the converted value in the cell.

Here are a few more examples of using the CONVERT function:

  • Converting temperature: =CONVERT(68, "F", "C") converts 68 degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius.
  • Converting weight: =CONVERT(500, "g", "lbm") converts 500 grams to pounds mass.
  • Converting distance: =CONVERT(5, "mi", "km") converts 5 miles to kilometers.

Remember to always use the correct unit codes within quotes for the starting and target units. Google Sheets supports a wide range of unit categories, so be sure to refer to the documentation for a complete list of available units. You can also connect Google Sheets with other apps for more advanced workflows.

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Exploring Unit Categories and Variables in CONVERT

Google Sheets offers a wide range of unit categories for conversion using the CONVERT function. Some of the main categories include:

  • Weight: Convert between units like grams (g), ounces (ozm), pounds (lbm), and kilograms (kg).
  • Distance: Convert between units such as inches (in), feet (ft), yards (yd), meters (m), and miles (mi).
  • Temperature: Convert between Celsius (C), Fahrenheit (F), Kelvin (K), and other temperature scales.
  • Time: Convert between seconds (sec), minutes (min), hours (hr), days (day), and years (yr).
  • Pressure: Convert between pascals (Pa), millimeters of mercury (mmHg), pounds per square inch (psi), and atmospheres (atm).
  • Volume: Convert between units like cubic inches (in^3), liters (l), gallons (gal), and cubic meters (m^3).
  • Area: Convert between square inches (in^2), square feet (ft^2), square meters (m^2), acres (us_acre), and hectares (ha).
  • Energy: Convert between joules (J), calories (cal), British Thermal Units (BTU), and kilowatt-hours (Wh).

Within each category, there are numerous specific units that you can convert between using the CONVERT function in Google Sheets. Be sure to use the correct unit codes within quotes when specifying the start_unit and end_unit in the function. For more advanced uses, consider integrating Excel for complex data operations.

Practical Examples and Applications of CONVERT

The CONVERT function in Google Sheets is incredibly versatile, with applications spanning across various fields and industries. Here are some practical scenarios where converting units directly within your spreadsheet can be immensely useful:

  • Academic and Scientific Research: Researchers often work with data involving different units of measurement. The CONVERT function allows for quick and accurate conversions between metric and imperial units, temperature scales, and more, streamlining data analysis and reporting.
  • Engineering and Manufacturing: Engineers and manufacturers frequently deal with complex calculations involving length, weight, volume, and other parameters. By using CONVERT, they can connect Google Docs and ensure consistency and accuracy in their designs, specifications, and production processes.
  • Finance and Accounting: Financial professionals can use CONVERT to handle currency conversions, interest rate calculations, and other numerical transformations. This is particularly handy when working with international transactions or comparing financial data from different countries.
  • Cooking and Recipe Management: Home cooks and professional chefs alike can benefit from the CONVERT function when adapting recipes to different serving sizes or converting between various units commonly used in cooking, such as teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, and milliliters.

Real-life examples showcase the practicality of the CONVERT function:

  • An international business owner uses Google Sheets to track sales data from multiple countries. By employing the CONVERT function, they can quickly convert revenue figures from various currencies into their base currency for accurate financial reporting and analysis.
  • A mechanical engineer working on a project with a team spread across different countries uses CONVERT to ensure all dimensions and measurements are consistent, regardless of the unit system each team member is accustomed to using.
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By leveraging the power of the CONVERT function in Google Sheets, professionals across various fields can save time, reduce errors, and make data-driven decisions with greater ease and precision.

Common Errors and Troubleshooting the CONVERT Function

While the CONVERT function in Google Sheets is straightforward to use, there are a few common errors that users may encounter. Here are some typical issues and how to resolve them:

  1. Mismatched unit categories: One of the most frequent errors occurs when trying to convert between two different unit categories, such as attempting to convert from a distance unit to a temperature unit. To avoid this, ensure that the start_unit and end_unit are from the same category (e.g., both are distance units or both are weight units).
  2. Incorrect unit codes: Another common issue arises when users input incorrect or misspelled unit codes. Double-check that the unit codes you are using are valid and spelled correctly. Refer to the list of available unit conversions by category to ensure you are using the right codes.
  3. #VALUE! error: If you see a #VALUE! error in your spreadsheet, it typically means that one or more of the arguments in your CONVERT function is invalid. This could be due to a misspelled unit code, a mismatched unit category, or a non-numeric value where a number is expected. Review your function and correct any errors in the arguments.

If you encounter an error that you cannot resolve, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Break down the function into smaller parts to identify where the issue lies. Test each argument separately to pinpoint the source of the error.
  • Consult the Google Sheets documentation or online resources for more information on the specific error you are facing.
  • Reach out to the Google Sheets community or forums for additional support and guidance from experienced users.

By being aware of these common errors and knowing how to troubleshoot them, you can effectively use the CONVERT function in Google Sheets and overcome any challenges that may arise.

Enhancing Productivity with CONVERT Function Practice Sheets

Practice sheets are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the CONVERT function and its various applications in Google Sheets. By working through a series of exercises and examples, you can gain hands-on experience and build confidence in using the function effectively.

To help you get started, we have created a downloadable practice sheet that you can use to hone your skills with the CONVERT function. Click here to download the practice sheet.

Here's how you can make the most of this practice sheet:

  1. Open the downloaded file in Google Sheets.
  2. Read through the instructions and examples provided in the sheet.
  3. Complete the exercises by filling in the blank cells with the appropriate CONVERT functions.
  4. Check your answers against the provided solutions to ensure you are using the function correctly.
  5. Experiment with creating your own conversion scenarios to further test your understanding.

By using practice sheets, you can:

  • Reinforce your understanding of the CONVERT function syntax and parameters.
  • Gain practical experience in applying the function to real-world scenarios.
  • Identify areas where you may need additional practice or clarification.
  • Develop muscle memory and confidence in using the CONVERT function efficiently.
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Investing time in practicing with the CONVERT function will pay off in the long run, enabling you to work more productively and accurately when dealing with unit conversions in your Google Sheets projects. For more advanced tips, check out our Automation Field Guide.

Automate Google Sheets: Boost Productivity with Bardeen

Google Sheets, a potent tool for data management and analysis, offers a wide array of functionalities, including the conversion of data across various formats. While these conversions can be executed manually as detailed above, automating these processes can significantly enhance efficiency and accuracy. Bardeen introduces automation playbooks that seamlessly integrate with Google Sheets to streamline these tasks, ensuring you spend less time on data manipulation and more on analysis and decision-making.

Here are some examples of how Bardeen can automate your Google Sheets tasks:

  1. Copy an Airtable to Google Sheets: This playbook effortlessly migrates your data from Airtable to Google Sheets, simplifying data consolidation and analysis.
  2. Save information from Google Maps search results to Google Sheets: Automate the extraction of location data from Google Maps directly into Google Sheets, ideal for market research or logistics planning.
  3. Copy a newly created Asana task to Google Sheets: Keep your project management streamlined by automatically syncing new tasks from Asana with your Google Sheets.

Embrace the power of automation with Bardeen and transform your data management practices. Download the Bardeen app at Bardeen.ai/download to get started.

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