[Fixed] Excel Column Numbers Instead of Letters (2 Solutions)

The article will show you how to solve the issue of Excel columns being in numbers instead of letters. Excel generally shows the column numbers in letters by default. However, there is another option to show the columns in numbers (R1C1 method). In that case, column A becomes column 1, column B becomes column 2, and so on. So the A1 cell becomes (1, 1) or R1C1 cell. Someone may find this notation useful and turn on the R1C1 method. Suppose, you are now going to work on that PC and you need to change the settings as you are used to operating Excel where column numbers are in letters. The article will provide you with the perfect solution.

Excel Showing Column Numbers Instead of Letters: 2 Solutions

In the following image, you will see the column numbers of the Excel Workbook are in numbers.

excel column numbers instead of letters

Although this is not a problem if you are familiar with this format, it may still be a little bit hard to understand the cell referencing. Obviously, you cannot use the general format of cell references. It will cause the #NAME? (Invalid Name Error) error.

Here, we used the SUM function to sum the natural numbers by referencing the cells in the traditional method. But we got an error because the cell reference is not correct.

We can fix the problem by putting the R1C1 reference format.

excel column numbers instead of letters using Option menu

Still, this doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. But if you put cell references by selecting the cells, things will begin to get messy.

This type of reference will be hard to understand for the overall users. So using the conventional A1 style cell reference is suitable for everyone. And I’ll show how to convert R1C1 style to A1 cell referencing.

1. Using Excel Options to Fix Column Showing Numbers Instead of Letters

The process of showing Excel columns in letters is pretty simple and quick. Here I’ll show you how to do this from the Options menu. Let’s go through the process below for a better understanding.


  • First, go to the File tab.

excel column numbers instead of letters

  • After that, select Options.

  • In the Options window, go to Formulas and then simply uncheck the R1C1 reference style.
  • Next, click OK.

excel column numbers instead of letters

Thereafter, you will see your Excel workbook now has the A1 reference style.

Thus, you can solve the issue of Excel columns showing numbers instead of letters.

Read More: How to Create Excel Table with Row and Column Headers

2. Applying Excel VBA to Show Column Letters Instead of Numbers

We can also use Visual Basic for Application (VBA) to convert Excel columns from R1C1 reference style to A1 reference style. This means you will see the column numbers in letters. The execution of this method is also very easy to apply. Let’s go through the procedure below for a better perspective,


  • First, go to the Developer tab and then select Visual Basic.

excel column numbers instead of letters

  • After that, the VBA editor will open up. Select Insert >> Module.

  • Thereafter, the VBA Module will open. Type the following code in the VBA Module.
Sub ColumnNumbersToLetters()
    Application.ReferenceStyle = xlA1
End Sub

excel column numbers instead of letters using VBA

Here, we used the ReferenceStyle property to change the reference style from R1C1 to A1.

  • Next, go back to your sheet and run the Macro.

  • This operation will bring back the A1 reference style in your workbook.

excel column numbers instead of letters

Thus you can solve the issue of Excel columns showing numbers instead of letters by applying Microsoft Visual Basic for Application (VBA).

Read More: How to Change Column Header Name in Excel VBA

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In the end, we can pull the bottom line by considering the fact that one can learn how to solve by showing numbers instead of letters. If you have any better methods, questions, or feedback regarding this article, please share them in the comment box. This will help me enrich my upcoming articles.

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Meraz Al Nahian
Meraz Al Nahian

Md. Meraz Al Nahian has worked with the ExcelDemy project for over 1.5 years. He wrote 140+ articles for ExcelDemy. He also solved a lot of user problems and worked on dashboards. He is interested in data analysis, advanced Excel, statistics, and dashboards. He also likes to explore various Excel and VBA applications. He completed his graduation in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET). He enjoys exploring Excel-related features to gain efficiency... Read Full Bio

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