In 2020, scientists determined simply to rework the alphanumeric symbols they used to symbolize genes somewhat than attempt to cope with an Excel characteristic that was deciphering their names as dates and (un)helpfully reformatting them robotically. Yesterday, a member of the Excel team posted that the corporate is rolling out an replace on Home windows and macOS to repair that.
Excel’s automated conversions are supposed to make it simpler and sooner to enter sure kinds of generally entered information — numbers and dates, for example. However for scientists utilizing fast shorthand to make issues legible, it might destroy printed, peer-reviewed information, as a 2016 study found.
Microsoft detailed the update in a weblog put up this week, including a checkbox labeled “Convert steady letters and numbers to a date.” You’ll be able to in all probability guess what that toggles. The replace builds on the Computerized Information Conversions settings the corporate added final yr, which included the choice for Excel to warn you when it’s about to get additional useful and allow you to load your file with out automated conversion so you’ll be able to guarantee nothing can be screwed up by it.
Microsoft’s weblog provides caveats, equivalent to that Excel avoids the conversion by saving the info as textual content, which implies the info might not work for calculations later. There’s additionally a identified situation the place you’ll be able to’t disable the conversions when working macros.