Using regex to replace zero with apostrophe

What Regex formula can be used to ensure a 13-digit number beginning with zero get exported to Excel beginning with an apostrophe?

[1]{13},'+DATA does not work - we have tried various formulas, but none work and say Regex is not accepted.

  1. 0-9 ↩︎

It is not possible to use a regex formula alone to prepend an apostrophe to a number in order to ensure it is treated as text in Excel.

Regular expressions are powerful for matching and replacing patterns in text, but they do not inherently modify how text is interpreted or formatted in applications like Excel.

Ensuring a number is treated as text in Excel typically requires specific formatting or encoding at the point of data export. For example, when exporting data to a CSV file, you might need to manually format the cell or ensure the export function formats the data correctly.

To ensure Excel treats a 13-digit number starting with zero as text, you need to handle it within the export process.

For example, using Excel Interface:

  1. Open Excel and select the cells you want to format as text.
  2. Right-click the selected cells and choose Format Cells from the context menu.
  3. In the Format Cells dialog box, go to the Number tab.
  4. Select Text from the list of categories.
  5. Click OK.

If you are into coding, here’s an example in Python using the csv module to demonstrate how you might handle this:


import csv

# Example list of numbers
numbers = ["0123456789012", "0234567890123"]

# Open a CSV file for writing
with open('numbers.csv', mode='w', newline='') as file:
    writer = csv.writer(file)
    # Write each number to the CSV file, prepending an apostrophe
    for number in numbers:

print("CSV file created successfully.")

This code ensures that the numbers are written to the CSV file with an apostrophe, so when the CSV is opened in Excel, the numbers are interpreted as text.

Alternatively, you can use Node to achieve the same.
First, make sure you have Node.js installed. Then, you can use the following script:

const fs = require('fs');
const path = require('path');

// Example list of numbers
const numbers = ["0123456789012", "0234567890123"];

// Path to the CSV file
const filePath = path.join(__dirname, 'numbers.csv');

// Function to write numbers to CSV file
function writeNumbersToCSV(numbers, filePath) {
    // Create a write stream
    const fileStream = fs.createWriteStream(filePath);

    // Write each number to the CSV file, prepending an apostrophe
    numbers.forEach(number => {

    // Close the stream
    fileStream.end(() => {
        console.log("CSV file created successfully.");

// Call the function to write numbers to CSV
writeNumbersToCSV(numbers, filePath);


  1. Importing Modules: We import the fs module for file system operations and the path module to handle file paths.
  2. Example List: We define an example list of 13-digit numbers that start with zero.
  3. CSV File Path: We set the path for the CSV file to be created.
  4. Function to Write CSV: We define a function writeNumbersToCSV that takes the list of numbers and the file path as arguments. This function creates a write stream to the specified file and writes each number to the file, prepending an apostrophe.
  5. Writing Numbers: Inside the function, we loop through each number and write it to the CSV file, ensuring that an apostrophe is prepended.
  6. Closing the Stream: After writing all the numbers, we close the write stream and log a message to indicate that the file has been created successfully.

Running the Script

1 - Save the script to a file, for example, create_csv.js.

2 - Open your terminal or command prompt.

3 - Navigate to the directory where you saved the script.

4 - Run the script using Node.js:

node create_csv.js

This will create a numbers.csv file in the same directory with the numbers formatted to ensure they are treated as text when opened in Excel.