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Excel reports and library barcodes

Excel-exponentialHave you ever opened an ILS report file and seen some data like the mess shown here? I think we all know that valid item and patron barcodes are longer than these, and that they don't have "E+13" in them.

Of course you may not have ever seen that, because SCLS staff do try to clean up such things for you. But sooner or later we may miss a spot. More likely, you'll get this kind of result on your own while playing in whatever kind of do-it-yourself reports tools get added onto ILS services over time.

No worries, it's just Excel being Excel. It sees a number with lots of digits (twelve or more), and it decides to show some initiative and help you out. It automatically converts those long numbers into a "scientfic notation" format. Because that's better, right?

Yeah... not so much, really. Luckily this is easy to correct:

 1. Select the columns or range of cells you want to fix.
 2. Right click inside that area and choose "Format Cells..."
 3. Choose the "Number" format category.
 4. Reduce the value of the "Decimal places:" field to zero.
 5. Click OK.

Wallah! There's your barcodes, all shiny and new like Excel never made hamburger out of them at all.

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http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/voila

or (less charitably) definition 5 at this site:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wallah

Unless you were using the term ironically...

I suppose I could claim that I drafted the post in Excel and that it made hamburger of my data...

More accurately though, the Typepad post editing interface does something to suppress the built in spell check feature of Firefox, and I was hurrying a bit too much to perform that function for myself. Next time I'll stick to "Presto!", which I'm fairly sure I can spell without a crutch. =)

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